Since U.S. President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Iran nuclear deal 2 years ago, other signatories have tried to salvage the agreement in hopes of constraining Iran’s ability to resurrect a nuclear weapons program. They haven’t given up yet. And although Iran has resumed activities proscribed by the deal, including stepping up uranium enrichment, it has kept the door open to a reversal. But a series of disputes has continued to fray the agreement.
This week, questions about Iran’s past clandestine atomic research program—including the disappearance of a missing uranium disk that could be used in a bomb, and illicit explosives testing—took center stage during a meeting of the governing board of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). And recent moves by the Trump administration have threatened to derail the conversion of Iranian nuclear facilities to reduce the risk they could contribute to a weapons program.
The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 deal is called, offered Iran relief from economic sanctions in exchange for dismantling large pieces of its nuclear program. Although experts generally agree the JCPOA worked, the Trump administration withdrew in May 2018, arguing it didn’t go far enough. New U.S. sanctions have since battered Iran’s economy.