Allies First, Deals Second: An Analysis of the Iran Deal

biden Iran

From the onset of the Biden presidency, the administration has promised the American people a renewed agreement, or “Iran Deal,” to cull nuclear proliferation by the Iranian regime. An Iran Deal would eliminate economic sanctions against Iran in exchange for Iran’s commitment to stop producing nuclear weapons.[1] The Biden administration views the nuclear deal as a long-term agreement for peace that would ensure stability in the Middle East.[2] This decision would reverse the foreign policy strategy of his predecessor, President Donald Trump, whose administration heightened economic and military aggression against the regime. The new Iran Deal differs from Obama’s Iran Deal by including significantly more concessions to the Iranian regime, such as restoring sanction waivers on Iranian civilian nuclear activity(nuclear programs that include unstable and dangerous enriched uranium), worrying even Democrats who want a nuclear arrangement with Iran.[3] While there are some benefits of a nuclear arrangement with Iran, a potential agreement with the Iranian government would hold several significant ramifications for American grand strategy and national security. In particular, our strongest partnerships in the region will suffer if we neglect the national defense and political prerogatives of our allies, thereby harming our own political and economic interests. 

Firstly, a nuclear agreement with Iran deteriorates strong American alliances in the Middle East, impeding American economic and political interests. Specifically, relations with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf monarchies such as the United Arab Emirates are already declining as a result of the Biden administration’s intentions to craft a deal with Iran. Following the crisis in Ukraine, Saudi and Emirati leaders refused to speak to President Biden about using their vast petroleum resources to ease rising oil prices.[4] The rebuke is damaging for the American economy given the astronomical rise of $100 per barrel in crude oil prices after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.[5] Deteriorating U.S. relations with the Gulf states is an implicit result of the Biden administration’s adoption of a foreign policy strategy in the region that undermines the objectives of the Gulf monarchies, namely their desire to limit Iranian aggression and military capabilities. Saudi Arabia and the UAE perceive a potential Iran Deal as strengthening and emboldening their Shia rival to create instability in the region and undermine their influence and authority. For instance, Iranian support for the Houthi rebel group has been designed to challenge Saudi authority and instigate conflict. American alliances with Saudi Arabia and the UAE yield integral economic and political benefits by providing American consumers with cheaper oil and securing American national security objectives by ensuring stability in the region. However, if the Biden administration follows through on a nuclear agreement with Iran, America risks losing these benefits, which could prove costly during a potential confrontation with the rising hegemonic powers such as Russia and China. 

The renewed Iran nuclear talks also harm America’s relationship with one of their strongest allies in the region, Israel. The Prime Minister of Israel, Naftali Bennet, has expressed his disdain for a nuclear deal, characterizing a potential arrangement between the United States and Iran as violent and volatile.[6] Israel’s opposition stems from a fear of Iranian military aggression against them and Iranian state funding for terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah.[7] Given these serious threats to Israeli national security, American support for a nuclear arrangement with the Iranian regime would result in less favorable American relations with Israel. Israel provides America with numerous benefits, such as intelligence and military technology, and possesses one of the strongest trade partnerships with the United States. Uniquely in the region, Israel also shares similar democratic and political norms as the United States.[8]

Recently, relations between Israel and Gulf monarchies have improved significantly, as they have coalesced against a common enemy: Iran. For instance, they signed the 2020 Abraham Accords, an unprecedented treaty strengthening peace and cooperation between Israel and other prominent Arab nations such as Bahrain, the UAE, Morocco, and Sudan.[9] Moreover, as a follow-up to the Accords, Israel hosted a summit with four Arab nations to discuss and strategize how to effectively coordinate against Iran.[10] The coordination of American allies in the Middle East against Iran should signal to America the urgency of containing Iran and mitigating their pernicious effects in the region.

The renewal of the Iran Deal weakens important American alliances with Saudi Arabia and Israel indicating a drastic potential loss of American influence and power in the Middle East. By undercutting our strongest allies in the region, the United States weakens its authority. American allies will start to question the value and benefits they provide and start slowly distancing themselves from America in favor of hegemonic powers such as China and Russia that better support their interests. America needs to understand that alliances are mutual partnerships: in order to reap the benefits of our alliances, we need to support the national security interests of our allies. 


[1] Laurence Norman and Sune Engel Rasmussen, “What Is the Iran Nuclear Deal? What It Means, from Nuclear Weapons to the Price of Oil,” The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, March 16, 2022),

[2] Ibid

[3] The Editorial Board, “Rushing to a Weaker Iran Deal,” The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, February 6, 2022),

[4]Dion Nissenbaum, Stephen Kaulin, and David S. Cloud, “Saudi, Emirati Leaders Decline Calls with Biden during Ukraine Crisis,” The Wall Street Journal (Dow Jones & Company, March 9, 2022),

[5] Kevin Hack and Jimmy Troderman, “Crude Oil Prices Rise above $100 per Barrel after Russia’s Further Invasion into Ukraine,” Crude oil prices rise above $100 per barrel after Russia’s further invasion into Ukraine – Today in Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), March 4, 2022,

[6] Josef Federman, “Explainer: Impending Iran Nuclear Deal Alarms Israel,” AP NEWS (Associated Press, February 23, 2022),

[7] Ibid.

[8] ​​“U.S. Relations with Israel – United States Department of State,” U.S. Department of State (U.S. Department of State, January 20, 2021),

[9] “The Abraham Accords,” U.S. Department of State (U.S. Department of State, January 13, 2021),

[10] Patrick Kingsley, “Israel, U.S. and 4 Arab Nations Focus on Security at Summit,” The New York Times (The New York Times, March 28, 2022),