A New Nuclear Deal Won’t Secure the Middle East

But Regional Cooperation Could, and Washington Should Support It

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani visits the Bushehr nuclear power plant, June 2015 Mohammad Berno / The New York Ti​mes / Redux

U.S. President Donald Trump has steered Middle East policy into a quandary. He has made clear since assuming office that his goal is to reduce the U.S. presence in the region, but his policies have not engendered the stability that would make such a withdrawal feasible. Rather, Washington has sought with singular focus to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with one that would also curtail Tehran’s missile program and regional activities. And the pursuit of such an agreement as the nub of the United States’ Middle East policy has served only to destabilize the region and to put U.S. interests there at risk.

Trump has relied on a “maximum pressure” campaign that strangles Iran’s economy in order to bend its leaders’ will. But rather than capitulate, Iran has reduced its compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal, shot down an American drone, brazenly assailed tankers and oil

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