Iran and the future of the nuclear deal

President Hassan Rouhani sits at a desk flanked by photos of late Ayatollah Khomeini and current Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei
President Rouhani is in a tough spot now that his bet on dialogue with the West seems to have failed. Hardliners like Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have the upper hand (source: dpa)
  • The renewal of U.S. sanctions on Iran has undermined President Rouhani
  • The country’s hardliners will now press to project power at home and abroad
  • The nuclear deal could remain in place, but domestic repression will increase

The Iranian government led by President Hassan Rouhani has come under tremendous pressure after the United States withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal. The reinstatement of extensive sanctions, however, looks unlikely to trigger the regime change Washington hopes to achieve.

The nuclear deal formed a cornerstone of President Rouhani’s domestic and foreign policy. Described frequently as a moderate, he stood for president in 2013 with pledges to prepare a “civil rights charter,” revive the economy and put an end to the more than decade-long dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Doing so was supposed to pave the way for the normalization of Iran’s relations with the West.

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