Key Points

To be sure, it’s possible that Iran’s supreme leader will never authorize direct negotiations with the United States, even in the face of his regime’s imminent economic collapse and international political isolation. But if Mr. Trump can succeed in achieving true maximum pressure and restoring international restrictions on Iran, a phone call from Tehran agreeing to negotiate without preconditions could likely follow.

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Trump’s elimination of Soleimani symbolizes the end of the Obama strategy of realigning the U.S. with the Islamic Republic. But to bury that strategy, Trump still needs to end the nuclear deal fully. The arms embargo on Iran is set to be lifted at the end of this year. The expiration of other sunset clauses will be prevented only when the U.S. activates the so-called snapback mechanism at the United Nations Security Council, which would restore the international restrictions and sanctions on Iran that the nuclear deal shredded.

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With the sunset looming for the UN arms embargo on Iran, the United States needs to find other means of deterring and punishing the sale of arms to or from Tehran, such as harsh sanctions on all that engage in such trade. This should be an essential element of maximum pressure.

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What Caesar deserves is not just a law, but a sustained American commitment to human rights in Syria.

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The United States should avoid additional kinetic conflict with Iran if possible, but Washington must be willing to employ all instruments of national power against Iran if it appears to be approaching breakout. Under the current circumstances, Washington should plan for the worst and work to deter an Iranian nuclear breakout before it starts.

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