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Biden, Iran and the JCPOA: A Race to Save Diplomacy


The election of Joe Biden has revived hopes of a fairly quick de-escalation between Tehran and Washington. Biden’s newly appointed foreign policy staff made it clear that his administration will rejoin the JCPOA. President Rouhani reciprocated following this announcement by pledging an Iranian return to the JCPOA commitments within hours of a U.S. return to the deal. Yet, any American decision to rejoin the JCPOA faces time constraints. The term of Iran’s relatively moderate president’s term ends in the summer. Most pundits expect a more hardline conservative to replace Rouhani and speculate that such a conservative will probably be less enthusiastic to fully rejoin the deal. Therefore, the world is waiting for Biden to make the first step once he moves to the White House.

While a quick return seems doable, many other voices are calling on Biden to take advantage of Tehran’s need to lift sanctions to address other concerns for the U.S. partners in the Middle East, namely the ballistic missiles program and Tehran’s regional policies. To others, this appears to be nothing less than a call to continue Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy albeit with fewer demands. How will the incoming Biden Administration handle Iran in the next six months with respect to the U.S. foreign policy towards Iran, starting with rejoining the JCPOA? Can it devise a policy that would be sustainable through an incoming conservative administration in Iran? Will the concerns of some GCC states and Israel be part of Biden’s policy? Why would Iran be interested to renegotiate in six months a deal that took the international community years to make? Can Israel, the outgoing Trump administration, or other parties take actions to preclude a quick return to the JCPOA?

Featured Speakers: Ambassador Patrick Theros (moderator), Dr. Mohsen Milani, Dr. Liora Hendelman-Baavur, and Dr. Albert Wolf.

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