April 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S., Iran Reportedly Discussing New Interim Nuclear Deal

April 3, 2023 | Flash Brief

U.S., Iran Reportedly Discussing New Interim Nuclear Deal

Latest Developments

Axios reported today that the Biden administration has been discussing the contours of a new nuclear deal with Tehran since January. The prospective agreement would lift some U.S. sanctions on Iran in exchange for the regime freezing some parts of its nuclear program. Tehran thus far has reportedly rejected the U.S. offer. The potential accord comes despite public U.S. assurances as recently as last month that a return to the Iran nuclear deal “hasn’t been on the agenda for months now.”

Expert Analysis

“Under this ‘less for more’ deal, Tehran will give up few nuclear concessions, keep most of its important nuclear advancements, and get billions of dollars to rescue its failing economy. Too many will see the hope of a longer and stronger agreement. But they will be like pilgrims in the desert looking at the horizon and seeing a mirage.” Mark Dubowitz, FDD CEO

“President Biden risks undermining American support for the war in Ukraine by asking Congress to approve billions of taxpayer dollars to support Kyiv while offering Iran billions of dollars to help resupply Moscow. In light of Tehran’s assassination threats against U.S. officials and ongoing protests inside Iran, the administration will likely face stiff bipartisan resistance to this plan.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

What Could a Deal Look Like?

The Axios report fails to specify the sanctions that the prospective deal would lift, but it says that Tehran’s main concession would be a halt to the production of 60-percent enriched uranium – potentially leaving a turn-key nuclear weapons-capability intact. Last year, the Biden administration offered to provide Iran upfront non-statutory sanctions relief as part of a deal in exchange for a similar halt. In particular, the offer would have rescinded three executive orders sanctioning Iran’s petrochemical, automotive, construction, iron, steel, aluminum, copper, mining, manufacturing, textiles, and financial sectors, including 17 Iranian banks. Many of these sectors are tied to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization. FDD previously estimated that rescinding these executive orders could provide Iran with sanctions-free access to least $30 billion in annual export revenue.

Congressional Review

The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015 prohibits the president from suspending statutory sanctions as part of any nuclear agreement with Iran until Congress has reviewed and possibly voted on the deal over a 30-day period. The Biden administration’s new agreement would likely face congressional concerns that providing sanctions relief to Tehran will subsidize Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism against Americans, fund Russia’s war in Ukraine, and abandon Iran’s popular uprising — all while leaving Iran on the brink of a nuclear breakout. However, if President Biden limits U.S. sanctions relief to rescinding the three executive orders, he may have no legal obligation to submit the deal for congressional review pursuant to INARA.

Related Analysis

Iran Deal May Provide Billions in IRGC-Connected Sanctions Relief Prior To Congressional Review,” FDD Flash Brief

Less for More Is the Worst Deal of All,” by Jacob Nagel and Mark Dubowitz


Iran Iran Nuclear Nonproliferation