An Unwritten Deal Is Exactly What Iran and America Need

Rumors are abounding that after 10 months of almost no diplomatic activity, the United States and Iran are close to reaching an informal agreement that will prevent a further escalation between the two. What is on the table is not the renewal of the 2015 nuclear agreement—which remains in a comatose state—but rather an unwritten understanding that neither side will pull the plug on the respirator.

Diplomacy between the United States and Iran has steadily degraded over the years. From the intense and, at times, weekslong direct negotiations that produced the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—a more than 100-page written agreement embodied in a unanimously approved U.N. Security Council resolution—to the current mostly indirect negotiations over an unwritten, informal understanding.

Yet, it is a victory for both countries because, without this informal agreement, the two sides would steadily be moving toward a disastrous confrontation.

Nothing has been announced yet, but the informal agreement is reported to entail a commitment from Iran to refrain from enriching uranium beyond 60 percent, potentially also stop or slow down the stockpiling of enriched uranium at that level, halt attacks by allied militias in Iraq and Syria on U.S. troops and contractors, refrain from providing Russia with ballistic missiles, and expand collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In return, the United States will refrain from tightening sanctions on Iran, stop seizing oil tankers with Iranian oil, and refrain from pushing the IAEA or the U.N. Security Council to adopt punitive measures against Tehran.

Read the full piece in Foreign Policy.