Early in January, the European members of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran made a risky move by triggering the deal’s dispute resolution mechanism. Though it was a desperate attempt to save the agreement, it could, if not managed carefully, result in the reimposition of United Nations Security Council sanctions on Iran—effectively collapsing any remnants of the deal.
The potential reimposition of sweeping multilateral sanctions—a near-automatic consequence of Security Council referral—looms over the current political crisis. Of course, the Europeans may have no appetite to let things get that far. But irrespective of its current status in the nuclear deal, the United States may be able to outmaneuver the Europeans and trigger multilateral sanctions on Iran unilaterally.