Agreement to Save Iran Nuclear Deal Is Close, But Obstacles Remain

Lobbying by hawks in Washington as well as Tehran’s demand to close an IAEA investigation are the final sticking points preventing a return to the Iran nuclear deal.

Al-Jazeera reported on Friday that several sources say the US and Tehran could imminently ink an agreement that will see both sides return to compliance with the Iran nuclear deal. If implemented, the US would lift sanctions on Iran, and Tehran would scale back its nuclear program over the next 120 days until each side has returned to compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal.

According to the unnamed sources that spoke with Al-Jazeera, Washington approved the "final text" proposal made by the European Union last week, and the White House is waiting on Iran to consent to the deal. The EU accord would see Iran reverse its advances to its nuclear energy program over the past four years. The US will lift sanctions on Iran and agree to pay a fine if it exits the JCPOA again.

After President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran nuclear deal in 2018, Tehran made several attempts to save the agreement without the Americans. After Europe failed to live up to its commitments in the deal, Iran took several steps to increase the capabilities of its civilian nuclear program. Tehran installed several advanced centrifuges, enriched uranium to 60% and made several other research advancements.

The sources that spoke with Al-Jazeera said the final obstacles include Iran’s demand that the international nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, concludes its inquiry. However, Matthew Lee writing for the AP, reported some members of Congress are capitalizing on the alleged plot to assassinate former national security adviser John Bolton and the attack on Salman Rushdie to prevent a return to the JCPOA.

Senator Ted Cruz said, "The ayatollahs have been trying to murder Salman Rushdie for decades. The Biden administration must finally cease appeasing the Iranian regime." Senator Tom Cotton echoed his Republican colleague’s demand. "We know they’re trying to assassinate American officials today. Biden needs to immediately end negotiations with this terrorist regime," he said.

Cruz and Cotton will likely attempt to invoke the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Some Senators argue the 2015 law requires Congress to review any deal that would see the US return to the JCPOA. It is unclear if the Republicans will be able to enlist enough Democrats to kill the deal.

The GOP’s House Armed Services Committee suggested a second approach through its Twitter account. "Even if Iran accepts President Biden’s full capitulation and agrees to reenter the Iran nuclear deal, Congress will never vote to remove sanctions. In fact, Republicans in Congress will work to strengthen sanctions against Iran."

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.