A Nuclear Iran Is Not Inevitable
Why the World Cannot Give Up on Diplomacy
This article was originally published in Foreign Affairs on November 16, 2021.
After months of uncertainty and growing concerns from the West, Iran announced in early November that negotiations over reviving the 2015 nuclear deal would resume, with a first meeting scheduled in Vienna on November 29. For the moment, the pressure has come down a notch, but the outlook for success is bleak. Iran’s demand that the United States remove all sanctions imposed since U.S. president Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018, and its insistence that the United States provide a guarantee that a future president won’t leave the deal again go well beyond the terms of the original agreement. In addition, Iran’s nuclear advances mean that a return to the deal is now less attractive for the United States, because Iran has gained important knowledge that cannot be easily wiped away. Under these conditions, a deal will be hard to reach. But the Biden administration needs to try, because a nuclear-armed Iran would make the world a far more dangerous place.