Sample International Relations Essay Assignment on Policy memo

The summative assessment is an individual, two-part assignment, which will determine 100 percent of your module grade. It takes the form of a 1,500-word policy memo in which you will address a contemporary sanctions issue and which is worth 70 percent of your module mark. This will be accompanied by a five-minute presentation that draws out the highlights of your policy memo. attached is just a template of the memo, please let me know which sanction issue you choose to write about before proceeding. i want the references to be academic and in alphabetical order.

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Part 1: Policy memo


In January 2021, after a fiercely contested election, Joe Biden replaced Donald Trump as US president. One of the most pressing issues facing the incoming administration was the Iranian nuclear challenge. In 2018, Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), and reimposed nuclear-related sanctions. In the months that followed, he also imposed new sanctions on Iran as part of a ‘maximum pressure campaign. In 2019, for example, Trump designated the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization. His administration also sought to ‘reduce Iran’s oil exports to zero and eliminated exemptions for other countries to import Iranian oil.



As part of your formative assessment, you explored how President Trump’s actions with regard to the JCPOA and sanctions on Iran put him at odds with European partners. The EU sought to maintain the JCPOA and convince Tehran to remain in compliance with the terms of the deal. The EU then took steps to counter US sanctions and, through INSTEX, the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges, sought to provide Iran with a means of doing business with European companies.

These efforts saw some success, and Iran initially confirmed that it would not engage in ‘any activities contrary to the JCPOA’ at that point. The International Atomic Energy Agency continued to verify Iran’s compliance with the deal. Inevitably, however, as the months passed and as new US sanctions were imposed and began to bite, Iran responded by going beyond the limits set by the JCPOA. Tehran decided, for example, to increase its stockpile of enriched uranium beyond that allowed under the nuclear deal.

As the situation deteriorated and Iran breached agreed limits, the E3 (France, Germany and the UK) triggered the dispute mechanism provided in the JCPOA. The dispute resolution mechanism process, if referred to the UN Security Council, has the potential to result in the re-imposition of UN sanctions on Iran that were lifted in accordance with the 2015 deal. However, the E3 was careful to make clear that ‘our three countries are not joining a campaign to implement maximum pressure against Iran’.



Iran has been very vocal in its denunciation of US actions and argues that it is justified in its response. By the time Joe Biden takes office, relations with Iran are abysmal and threats and incremental (negative) actions on both sides – the US imposing sanctions and Iran slowly ramping up its nuclear activities – have left the JCPOA on the brink of total collapse.

The task

For this assessment, you will play the role of National Security Advisor to the current US President. Your task is to provide advice to the president in the form of a policy memo, which is worth 70 percent of your module mark.

President Biden was vice-president of Barack Obama when the JCPOA was negotiated and fully agreed with this diplomatic route. Biden was appalled by the Trump administration’s approach to foreign policy and feels that withdrawal from the JCPOA was a mistake. That said, he fears that it is not possible to simply reset relations and return to the deal as it was. The Trump administration went out of its way to make it difficult for a successor administration to rejoin the JCPOA. For example, some of the sanctions imposed by Trump duplicated previous nuclear-related sanctions but were imposed on grounds of support for terrorism instead.


Against this background, the President is seeking your advice on how best to approach sanctions on Iran. He would like a policy memo that sets out the following information:

The steps the Trump administration took with regard to sanctioning Iran after withdrawing from the JCPOA (approximately 500 words).
US objectives (4–5 bullet point list, approximately 150 words).
The challenges associated with lifting US sanctions on Iran and re-entering the JCPOA (approximately 350 words).
Two possible courses of action, noting and justifying your preferred option (approximately 500 words).

complete only 5 pages with no slides.