When Joe Biden was elected President of the United States, there was a collective sigh around the Middle East region that the tumultuous conflict with Iran during the Trump administration, which had aggravated both sides quite close to a full-blown war, would subside for a while at least.
The headways made by the Obama Administration were remembered, where the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was signed, which removed several sanctions on Iran as long as it complied with limitations on its nuclear programme.
Trump announced a US withdrawal from the Plan but after the inauguration of Biden, Obama-former Vice-President, there was hope that the US would re-enter into the Plan again, an agreement which seemed to bring the best and peaceful outcome for all parties involved.
Alas, the events of the past few months make that hope look less and less likely to turn to reality. All sides have been engaging in passive-aggressive diplomatic tactics—Iran this week started producing uranium metal in a new breach of limits laid out in Tehran’s nuclear deal, leading to calls of restraint from European powers.
Israel, always a staunch opponent of the deal, is taking advantage of the bad blood and has said that it would not engage with US President Joe Biden on strategy regarding the Iranian nuclear programme, urging tougher sanctions.
Iran is playing its hand, trying to leverage the Trump-era damage to pressure Biden to do more. In some respects, its grievances are valid.
Because of Trump’s maximum pressure policy, the Iranian economy has suffered hundreds of billions of dollars of losses while Iran was in full compliance with the terms and conditions of the deal. It is putting this pressure to force a decisive answer out of the US on what approach it means to take.
Whether this will backfire for Iran and lead the way to a better deal will be seen but one outcome is for sure—the Biden administration will have to pick a lane.