January 30, 2021

The National Interest: Biden Team Must Understand Iran to Build on Nuclear Deal

By Sina Toossi

President Joe Biden has said he seeks to return to the Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as a first step to put the lid on Iran’s nuclear program and decrease regional tensions.

His incoming Secretary of State, Tony Blinken, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during confirmation hearings that the United States will return to compliance with the JCPOA if Iran does. Blinken added that the Biden administration aims to use the JCPOA as a platform to “seek a longer and stronger” agreement with Iran that would also address Iran’s “destabilizing activities” in the region and its missile program.

As the Biden administration pursues new negotiations with Iran, it should do so with a keen understanding of Iranian strategic decision-making and what spurs Iranian flexibility and obduracy. The key to any broader deal will be to find areas that address U.S. national security concerns that do not infringe on what Iranian officials regard as vital to their country’s survival.

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