Despite the Trump Administration’s best efforts to degrade the Iran nuclear deal by withdrawing, claiming to snapback a global sanctions regime and attempting to build a sanctions wall for the next administration, the United States could still rejoin the agreement. The text of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) included no formal procedure for withdrawal or reentry. From a diplomatic perspective, the other parties to the agreement (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran) can simply decide to re-admit the United States. Unfortunately, the reality is more complicated. In May 2019, one year after the United States withdrew, Iran began incrementally breaching the limits of the JCPOA.
President-elect Joe Biden has said, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations.”
Former Secretary of Energy Ernie Moniz observed it could take four months for Iran to return to compliance with the JCPOA. Below are Iran’s JCPOA obligations, the current status of those obligations and the exact steps needed for Iran to return to compliance with the JCPOA.