One of the most consequential foreign policy decisions that the Trump administration took was undermining the previous Obama government’s deal with Iran and exacerbating relations with the country till the point that war became a distinct possibility. Now that it is virtually certain that there will be a new administration in the US White House with Joe Biden, who is far softer on Iran as President, the opportunity is ripe for US-Iran relations to be normalised again.
The signs at the start were hopeful. President-elect Joe Biden has said he hopes to return the US to the Iran deal, which was negotiated while he was vice president. However, the US’ relationship with Iran has always been fragile—seemingly appearing to explode at the slightest provocation. This is why it is important that Iran not squander this opportunity to fix relations and have sanctions removed. This advice was reiterated by Germany’s foreign minister, who urged Iran not to waste what he called a final window of opportunity, at Monday’s virtual meeting of parties to the agreement.
A less volatile situation with Iran would benefit Pakistan. There is a lot of potential for lucrative trading opportunities with Iran, with which we share a border. Just in regional terms, with CPEC making waves in Pakistan’s economy, a less-sanctioned Iran could lead to greater economic cooperation with Pakistan and other regional allies. Due to Iran’s strategic position, bordering the caucuses, Iraq, Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the opening of routes and borders could open up many opportunities for more infrastructure and train routes across this region.
It is thus in Pakistan’s interest to encourage mutual cooperation and facilitate any friendship between the US and Iran. This will not be so easy—despite both sides stating that they are willing for cooperation, there are still many points of contention. EU-Iranian relations have been thawed by the execution on Saturday of Ruhollah Zam, an Iranian journalist and blogger. The indicates how vulnerable the situation is currently, and how Iran must be cautious not to let even the slightest opportunity of reconciliation go.