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Eli Lake

Trump’s Iran Policy Can Be an Opportunity for Biden

The president’s “maximum pressure” campaign leaves the president-elect room to negotiate.

Announcing the Iran nuclear deal, July 2015.

Announcing the Iran nuclear deal, July 2015.

Photographer: Andrew Harnik/Getty Images North America


The next U.S. president will have to come to terms with “the will of the Iranian people” and end the economic war against the Islamic Republic, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech Thursday. Bluster aside, there is a kernel of truth to his prediction — and President Donald Trump’s Iran policy may make negotiations easier for President-elect Joe Biden.

Iran will hold presidential elections next year, and Rouhani is dealing with an economy that has been pummeled by the sanctions that the U.S. imposed after 2018, when it withdrew from the 2015 nuclear agreement. Both Trump and Biden have said they would negotiate with Iran after the 2020 election. In those negotiations, the Biden administration should use Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy to its advantage.