During the original nuclear negotiations, an eccentric idea was briefly floated to demand more than one veto be needed to reimpose UN sanctions. The most aggressive pushback came from Russia, which is wary of setting a two-veto precedent that can become a new model in the Security Council, effectively diluting its power to block Western security initiatives. Alternatively, the United States argued that it cannot have a return of sanctions be contingent on a new resolution passing from the Security Council where it can be vetoed by its adversaries, China and Russia. This idea addresses both concerns by creating the impediment towards unilateralism at the DRM level—not in the Security Council—where the United States would need only the support of its European allies for a snapback of all sanctions.
In the past, many in Washington have argued that the United States should only agree to a nuclear deal if it can unilaterally withdraw. Under a deal amended with the above alterations, that would still be possible but not with snap-back immediacy. If the Biden administration believes that the maximum pressure campaign was a mistake, then it should not continue to insist on the power to snap back sanctions unilaterally without any other country supporting its claims that Iran violated a nuclear deal. All the countries involved have acknowledged the importance of the agreement’s survival and its diligent implementation. Admittedly, this is a quixotic proposal. This would certainly not be an easy task, especially in Washington, and even Iran would be wary of opening the existing text of the JCPOA to amendments. But what is needed is political courage and will to sure up the agreement’s weaknesses now.
Ali Ahmadi is a graduate student at the University of Tehran and an analyst focused on economic statecraft and US foreign policy in the Middle East. His work has been published by The Diplomat, The National Interest, Palladium Magazine, and others.