US Doubts Returning to Iran Nuclear Deal Is Possible

Khamenei: US acting cowardly, malicious

It wasn’t so long ago that the US was reportedly close to rejoining the Iran nuclear deal, and diplomats were saying many of the terms had been worked out. Now, the US is growing pessimistic, suggesting that the return may be politically impossible.

Biden Administration spin is heavily on the incoming Iranian government, and predictions that they’ll be hard to deal with. The real issue, however, is very much on the American side, and restoring US trustworthiness in the deal after the Trump era.

The real issue is that the US never implemented its sanctions relief requirements under the deal, then unilaterally withdrew from the deal, then continued to undermine its implementation for the rest of the P5+1 for years.

Thus, it’s considered desirable to get the US back into the deal, but to quote Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei “they once violated the nuclear deal at no cost by exiting it. Now they explicitly say that they cannot give guarantees it would not happen again.”

That’s the main stumbling block: Iran wants specific assurances that if the US returns to the deal, they promise not to just unilaterally leave it again. US negotiators say that would be politically impossible for them, since anti-Iran Congressmen will want the US to retain the option to just bolt from the deal at the next possible convenience.

Khamenei sees this as the US acting “cowardly and maliciously,” and making the deal’s restoration a lot harder than it needs to be.

Indeed, it’s not hard to see the US gearing up talks to fail, and trying to spin everything to be Iran’s fault. They’re already blaming a new government that isn’t in power yet, and have been pushing suddenly to make conventional missiles an issue, even though the effort had been to keep things focused on the nuclear issue.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.