Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Interview: Return to the Iran Nuclear Deal Before Talks on Other Issues

The current controversy over Iran’s nuclear program is one of Trump’s lingering foreign policy legacies that has proved particularly difficult for President Joe Biden to resolve. The U.S. withdrawal in May 2018 from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the Iran nuclear deal, and Iran’s gradual reversal of its nuclear commitments in retaliation for the Trump administration’s re-imposition of draconian economic sanctions has created a foreign policy conundrum for the Biden administration. How the two parties should go about reviving the nuclear agreement and what realistic strategy the Biden administration should adopt toward nuclear talks with Iran are among the key questions driving policy debates on this issue.

The following interview tackles these very questions. Abolghasem Bayyenat is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs where he conducts research on Iran’s nuclear policy. His doctoral dissertation at Syracuse University was on the political dynamics of Iran’s nuclear policy-making from 2003 to 2015. Prior to this doctoral studies, he worked for several years as an international trade expert for Iran’s Ministry of Commerce, where he was involved in bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations between Iran and its trade partners. He has published widely on Iran’s foreign and nuclear policy developments and its foreign trade, some of which can be accessed on his website at .

Manon Dark: When Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, how did this
impact relations between the United States and Iran?

Abolghasem Bayyenat: Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA was received as a stab in the back in Iran and left a deep sense of betrayal among many Iranians. It reinforced the conservative politicians’ long-held conviction that the United States is not a reliable and trustworthy partner and that any engagement with the United States will be short-lived. If implemented in good faith, the JCPOA had the potential to put the Iran-U.S. relationship on a new path and open new avenues for cooperation between the two countries by serving as proof that the two parties are able to keep their end of the deal. However, the U.S. withdrawal and the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran undermined the position of moderates in Iran in advocating for a conciliatory foreign policy and bolstered the hardliners ‘ narrative that only resistance and defiance against the United States can secure Iran’s national interests.
Continue reading the interview on Foreign Policy In Focus


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