The year was 2015, and Iran’s economic status was struggling due to billions of dollars worth of sanctions. In an effort to alleviate itself and stop further plunging into recession, the country and several world powers (namely China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States plus Germany, the European Union, and some Middle Eastern powers) entered a nuclear agreement that would relieve Tehran in exchange for dismantling most of its nuclear program. Formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), July 2015 agreement also include subjecting Iran to opening its facilities to more extensive international inspection to ensure that it is slowing, if not ceasing, its nuclear development efforts.

Proponents of the agreement believe that preventing Iran from accelerating its nuclear weapons program will reduce tensions between the country and its neighbors, including Israel and Saudi Arabia. All was going according to plan until 2018, when then-President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal. The departure of Washington, coupled with several more reasons, has pushed Tehran to resume part of its nuclear activities, such as the uranium enrichment in 2020 in the wake of the assassination of its top official. The deal just went downhill after that.

Hope for the revival of the JCPOA hangs on a thin thread even after incumbent US President Joe Biden took over office last year and said that the country “would return to the deal if Iran came back into compliance.” But the space for negotiations kept narrowing. With Tehran’s not-so-subtle military support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including the illegal transfer of drones, most diplomats in the US and Europe are now veering away, putting pressure on the Biden administration to refrain from further talks with the Raisi government.

Nonetheless, negotiations on restoring the deal pressed on painstakingly and had made promising progress until Iran decided to derail from reaching an agreement “with its unacceptable and unrealistic demands,” casting doubt on whether the country is truly committed to reviving the JCPOA.

Earlier this month, the Arms Control Association (ACA) published an article explaining how the “bleak prospects for JCPOA restoration [can] significantly increase both the threat of Iranian proliferation” as well as increase the risk that would, at some point, push the US (or more likely Israel) to resort to “kinetic action to try and set back Iran’s nuclear advances in the short term.”