Iran’s Nuclear Program & Western Sanctions

The U.S. policy options and its implications for the world order


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : JCPOA

Mains level : Paper 2- The U.S. approach toward JCPOA

The article spells out the U.S.’s foreign policy approach in the changing global order. Though the article doesn’t mention India, the U.S.’s policies and it’s bearing on India need no mention. From that perspective, we should follow their approach.

Decision on the JCPOA

  • During the U.S. presidential election campaign, Joe Biden had criticised the U.S. withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
  • He had then promised that subject to Iran’s compliance with its obligations, the U.S. would re-enter the agreement.
  • In office, Mr. Biden has shown little urgency on the JCPOA matter.
  • Israel has given the opposite message and said that the nuclear agreement was “bad and must not be allowed”.
  • Israel and the U.S.’s Gulf allies, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have also insisted that they be involved with the discussions with Iran on the revival of the agreement.

U.S.’s Policy approach

  •  The U.S. policy is likely to show more continuity than change where the U.S.’s core interests are concerned, specifically in its ties with Russia, China and Iran.
  •  Mr. Biden is likely to reverse his predecessor Donald Trump’s personal accommodative approach towards Russia and adopt the U.S.’s traditional confrontational posture.
  • Mr. Biden’s Iran policy is likely to match Mr. Trump’s hardline approach on substantive matters.
  • This approach also panders to Iran’s regional rivals who wish to see the Islamic republic weakened and isolated.
  • There will thus be no dramatic change in the U.S.’s approach to Iran on the nuclear question.

Regional concerns and role of global powers

  • Despite the sanctions, Iran’s regional influence remains significant.
  • The Iranian ability to mobilise militants across the region is viewed by Israel and some the Gulf Arab states as threatening their security.
  • Gulf states are also concerned about Iran’s influence with their Shia populations.
  • The capabilities of Iran’s precision missiles and drones are also a matter of regional anxiety.
  •  Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates will be in a face-off with Iran and its allies, Iraq, Syria and its Shia militia.
  • Alternatively, we could see a genuine regional effort to ease tensions and promote regional confidence, spearheaded by Qatar, working with Russia and, possibly, China.
  • Perhaps, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, already facing heat from the Biden administration, will see the value of this approach.
  • Russia now an influential player in the region, China, too, with its Belt and Road Initiative, has high stakes in regional stability.
  • The Sino-Iran 25 years agreement, envisages their substantial and long-term cooperation in political, security, military, economic, energy and logistical connectivity areas.

Consider the question “How far Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) has been successful in achieving its goals? How peace in the Middle East influence India’s interests?” 


The new U.S. administration will thus witness a new world order, shaped by a coalition of Russia, China and Iran, in which the U.S. is no longer the most significant role-player.

Get an IAS/IPS ranker as your 1: 1 personal mentor for UPSC 2024

Attend Now

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments


Join us across Social Media platforms.