Tactical Issues Surrounding a U.S. Withdrawal from the Iran Nuclear Agreement

April 16, 2018

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Author's Title: 

Patrick Clawson


The Washington Institute for Near East Policy

WHATEVER ONE THINKS of the notion of withdrawal, the question remains as to what such a move would mean in practical terms. If the president follows through on this threat, presumably on May 12, when waivers from the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012 must be extended again by presidential decision, it will not be as simple as flipping a switch. Trump would be faced with numerous necessary steps without which the withdrawal would not mean much in actuality. This report outlines the options available to the administration should it choose to terminate its cooperation with JCPOA provisions, and the technical, legal, and administrative considerations related to reimplementation of sanctions.

To be sure, any decision about whether to withdraw from the JCPOA has broad strategic implications. Those implications, however, are beyond the scope of this paper, which focuses on procedural issues and tactical options involved in a potential withdrawal, not on the fundamental question of whether withdrawing from the agreement is a wise course for U.S. policy. Indeed, this paper is not meant to endorse such a decision, but instead to point out the lengthy list of tactical issues involved, in addition to the broader strategic consequences that should be weighed before making any decision about leaving the deal.


Read the full policy note at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy