Mr Joe Biden was United States vice-president in the Obama administration when Washington and other nations struck an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear programme and prevent its weaponisation. In 2018, President Donald Trump arbitrarily cancelled the deal and imposed stiff sanctions on Iran - an act that greatly pleased Israel and Saudi Arabia, the two Middle Eastern nations most wary of Teheran. But since taking office in January last year, President Biden's administration has been working to restore the 2015 nuclear deal, even as circumstances have changed on the ground, thanks in part to the Abraham Accords that have, in effect, improved ties between Israel and many in the Arab world.
From all indications, a new agreement is within sight even as challenges remain. Last week, for instance, forces backed by the US and Iran clashed in Syria, causing several deaths. Predictably, there are vested interests on both sides who do not wish to see a settlement - and may have prompted such incidents. Some countries in the region also fear that if the US settles with Iran, it could lead to a further drawdown of American forces in the area as the Pentagon rebalances towards East Asia. US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan just had a visit from his Israeli counterpart, who was no doubt keen to ensure that Tel Aviv's interests are protected.