Notes de l'Ifri Potomac Papers
Demonstration near the U.S. Capitol after the murder of Mahsa Amini. Washington, DC - 22 october 2022

Why a reconciliation between Washington and Teheran seems impossible. Potomac Paper, No. 45, November 2022

Relations between the United States and the Islamic Republic are marked by history. On the Iranian side, the overthrow of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 weighs heavily on the perception of the United States. On the American side, the events linked to the 1979 Islamic Revolution remain a trauma after more than forty years. The agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and signed in July 2015, was therefore a momentous first step towards a possible reconciliation. Unfortunately, the process was interrupted by the United States’ withdrawal from the agreement and the implementation of a "maximum pressure" policy by the Trump administration in 2018. 


 Negotiations resumed with the Biden administration, but were opposed by many elected officials in the U.S. Congress and by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Iran.  

Important developments have taken place since the summer of 2022. The Iranian government had maintained demands that were unacceptable to the other negotiators (permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), casting doubt on its real desire to resurrect the JCPOA. In the United States, however, Iranian issues were carefully ignored during the campaign for the midterm elections, so as not to hinder the progress of the discussions. The widespread popular protests that followed the murder of Mahsa Amini on September 16 (and which continue to this day) have reinforced the inflexibility of the government in Tehran. Thus, in mid-October the European Union declared the negotiations totally suspended.  

The U.S. government is now toughening up its approach. It is working to guarantee Iranian freedom of expression on the Internet while strengthening its sanctions policy. For its part, the Iranian government is now seeking to benefit from Russia's support by being increasingly active in the Ukrainian theater.  

In the fall of 2022, reconciliation between Washington and Tehran seems increasingly unlikely.


This content is available in French: 

Washington-Téhéran : fin 2022, la réconciliation impossible ? (pdf)


2022 midterms Iran nuclear deal U.S. foreign policy Iran United States