A growing number of Democrats say they would return the U.S. to compliance with the 2015 nuclear pact world powers struck with Iran as President Donald Trump continues efforts to scuttle the agreement.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, widely regarded as one of the top Democratic contenders for the White House, said she would return the U.S. to the 2015 agreement, which saw Iran accept unprecedented curbs on and inspections of its nuclear program in return for billion of dollars of sanctions relief.
While Iran has repeatedly and consistently been verified to be in compliance with the agreement, Trump has repeatedly called it unfair to the U.S., and one of the worst deals he had ever seen, before exiting in May 2018.
Trump called on the U.S.'s negotiating partners -- China, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and the United Kingdom -- to follow the U.S. lead in leaving the agreement, but to date none have, arguing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action remains the best way to ensure Iran does not attain the bomb.
"Our intelligence community told us again and again: The #IranDeal was working to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. If Iran continues to abide by the terms of the deal, you bet I will support returning to it," Warren wrote on Twitter in February.
In a display of the party's support for one of former President Barack Obama's signature foreign policy accomplishments, the Democratic National Committee adopted in February a resolution calling for the U.S. to re-enter the agreement.
The Trump administration announced Monday that it would end waivers for seven countries, and Taiwan, to import Iranian oil in the latest attempt to mount pressure on Tehran. The 2015 agreement lifted U.S., EU and UN sanctions on Iranian oil exports, allowing Tehran unhindered access to one of its main sources of national revenue.
As of May 2, no country will be able to buy Iranian oil without the risk of running afoul of U.S. sanctions -- the Trump administration's latest effort to force Iran to leave the agreement.
But should 2020 go the Democrats' way there is no shortage of candidates who have said they would rejoin the historic agreement.
In addition to Warren, Senator Bernie Sanders, who mounted a fiery 2016 bid, has indicated that he would seek to have Washington return.
A Sanders aide told the Al-Monitor news website, "as president, Sen. Sanders would rejoin the JCPOA and would also be prepared to talk to Iran on a range of other issues, which is what Trump should’ve done instead of simply walking away. Rejoining the JCPOA would mean meeting the United States’ commitments under the agreement, and that includes sanctions relief."
Sanders is one of five presidential candidates who confirmed to Al-Monitor their desire to return to the JCPOA, including Senator Kamala Harris; Miramar, Florida Mayor Wayne Messam and lecturer Marianne Williamson.
A spokesman for Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend, Indiana mayor whose campaign is ascendant, also told the Hill website he would follow suit, as did a spokesman for former congressman Beto O'Rourke.
Three senators who have yet to explicitly state if they would seek to rejoin the agreement -- Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand and Amy Klobuchar -- did vote in favor of the agreement when it came before Congress.
Former Vice President Joe Biden, who is expectedly to officially announce his candidacy as soon as Thursday, is highly likely to return the U.S. to compliance as has was a vital part of the U.S. administration that initially brokered and then implemented the agreement. He strongly criticized Trump's decision to leave the accord.
And Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro, said on Twitter in March "If Iran continues to comply with the terms of the agreement as determined by the intelligence community, I will re-enter the U.S. into the #JCPOA as President."
Democrats are expected to have their first primary debate in June. That will kickstart a flurry of campaign activity ahead of the Democratic convention next summer.
By Michael Hernandez in Washington