Biden and misinterpreting Iran’s intent
Kasra Aarabi & Alex Vatanka analyse how the changing Iranian landscape could significantly disrupt Joe Biden's proposed Iran policy and plans to reach a new deal with Tehran
With the latest polls suggesting a likely victory for the Democrats in the November U.S. presidential elections, a looming foreign policy crisis awaits a potential Biden administration: escalating tensions with Iran. The Democrats have already vowed to abandon Washington’s current “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran — what they refer to as the “Trump administration’s race to war with Iran” — and return to the 2015 nuclear agreement, which the U.S. walked away from in 2018. Joe Biden himself recently asserted that he would not only “rejoin the  agreement,” but would use the deal as a “starting point for follow-on negotiations.” In essence, this would be a return to the 2015 Obama-era Iran policy, centered on negotiations and a future deal with Tehran.
But while the Democrats’ “diplomacy first” approach has won praise across the Atlantic as the solution to deescalating tensions with Tehran, this Western-centric view ignores the changing reality on the ground in Iran. If Biden thinks he can return to the 2015 status quo, he may be in for a surprise. Crucially, there are three major differences in the current Iranian landscape from that of the Obama era, all of which could act as significant barriers to Biden’s proposed Iran policy and plans to reach a new agreement with Tehran.