If and when a return to the agreement is reached, the Biden administration will also need to counter Iran’s escalating efforts in the Middle East.
Ebrahim Raisi’s election as president of Iran came as no surprise. All those who might have been a threat to him were disqualified. He was the choice of the supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, and small wonder: Few people better embody the ideology of the Islamic Republic. He will not open Iran up to the outside world, and will certainly not look to accommodate the United States in any way. As for Iran’s behavior in the Middle East, he has made clear that it is “not negotiable.”
The Israel-Hamas conflict last month was a reminder that nearly everything in the Middle East is connected—and whether we’re talking about Hamas rockets, the ongoing calamity in Yemen, or the Iran nuclear deal, Tehran’s destabilizing role in the region is the common factor.
We understand why President Joe Biden seeks a return to the deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. The United States must roll back Iran’s nuclear program and then use the time left before the agreement’s sunset provisions lapse to either produce the longer and stronger deal the Biden administration seeks, or enhance our deterrence so Tehran understands that the U.S. will prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear-threshold state.