Poll: Most Americans Back JCPOA

Poll: Most Americans Back JCPOA
Poll: Most Americans Back JCPOA

Most American voters still support the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and believe sanctions should be eased on Tehran if it triggers resumed talks, according to new Morning Consult polling.
However, US President Joe Biden’s window of opportunity to act is shrinking as midterm elections approach and former president Donald Trump’s shadow looms large, with voters split sharply along party lines over his 2018 decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. 
After Trump pulled out, opponents of former Iranian president Hassan Rouhani criticized his administration for putting Iran’s security at risk without securing sufficient guarantees. Those critics are now in power, and they are sticking to their demands for better terms for Iran than the 2015 accord, even as domestic political concerns also stymie concessions from Washington. 
The Dec. 28-29 survey shows broad support for the 2015 Iran deal. However, framing matters greatly on the topic: While GOP voters are roughly split over the agreement in principle, they overwhelmingly back Trump’s unilateral decision to withdraw from the Obama-era deal less than three years after it was inked.
Trita Parsi, the executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, said Biden may have missed a trick by not easing sanctions and trying to rejoin the deal through an executive order in the opening days of his term. Rejoining would have given Washington increased credibility—and leverage in the form of potential snapback sanctions, he said. 
“Biden’s strategy has led to eight rounds of inconclusive negotiations and continued development of the Iranian nuclear program up to 60 percent enrichment,” Parsi said, adding that a tentative approach allowed the potential political costs of rapprochement to snowball. 
“They are now much higher than they would have been on day one,” he said.
A senior US administration official responded by saying the United States has only been able to engage in negotiations at all thanks to the Biden administration’s efforts to unify the other parties to the 2015 accord. The official also blamed Trump’s withdrawal for setting Iran on its current trajectory, one that has made negotiations all the more difficult for the western sides in the first place.



Alex Vatanka, director of the Iran program at the Middle East Institute, said the partisan divide and coming US election timeline made it difficult for Iranian officials to put much faith in any olive branches extended by American officials.
“What happens in three years if there’s a new president? What happens if Democrats lose the midterm elections? What does that mean for relying on any agreement made with Joe Biden?” 
In Iran, the administration’s credibility appears equally threatened unless it can secure a deal that does more to protect Iran against perceived American unreliability.
Tehran believed the previous government had been too quick to scrap nuclear enrichment, so Trump had little to lose by withdrawing from the deal in 2018. 
Morning Consult polling shows Americans would be willing for the government to lift sanctions on Iran if that was a condition for resumed talks.
Two in three voters in the  Morning Consult survey said they would support increased economic sanctions against Iran should the talks in Vienna fail, even as some experts dismissed their value.
“By this point, doubling down on enforcement of existing sanctions will have a marginal economic impact on Iran, whereas the Iranians still have plenty of head space for escalation in the nuclear realm,” said Ali Vaez, director of the Iran Project at the International Crisis Group.
Military intervention was the least popular option among voters in Morning Consult’s polling.
“War itself is no longer credible,” an analyst said. “After Iraq and the hemorrhaging that the US took, the cost is too high for the Iranians to believe Washington would invade.” 
Still, he said it may never even get that far.

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