190413-N-DS741-0050 
STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR (April 13, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), right, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), and the Spanish navy Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104) transit the Strait of Gibraltar, entering the Mediterranean Sea as it continues operations in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Bainbridge is underway as part of Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group deployment in support of maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleets. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7); as well as the Spanish navy Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Pearson/Released)
PHOTO: Seaman Zachary Pearson/US Navy
190413-N-DS741-0050 STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR (April 13, 2019) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Bainbridge (DDG 96), right, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), and the Spanish navy Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104) transit the Strait of Gibraltar, entering the Mediterranean Sea as it continues operations in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Bainbridge is underway as part of Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group deployment in support of maritime security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th, 6th and 7th Fleets. With Abraham Lincoln as the flagship, deployed strike group assets include staffs, ships and aircraft of Carrier Strike Group 12 (CSG 12), Destroyer Squadron 2 (DESRON 2), USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) and Carrier Air Wing Seven (CVW 7); as well as the Spanish navy Alvaro de Bazan-class frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F 104). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Zachary Pearson/Released)
Now playing
01:17
US deploying carrier strike group due to Iran actions
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the January 6th insurrection, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on March 2, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images
FBI Director Christopher Wray testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on the January 6th insurrection, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on March 2, 2021. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / POOL / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:55
Watch FBI director debunk conspiracy theories pushed by Trump supporters
abrams
PHOTO: CNN
abrams
Now playing
00:51
Abrams on voting rights: We're fighting to protect our democracy from domestic enemies
Goya Foods President Robert Unanue speaks at a press conference with Carlos Vecchio, the Venezuelan Ambassador who is recognized by the United States on December 21, 2020 in Doral, Florida. The two held the press conference to discuss details of a recent shipment of humanitarian aid to Venezuela, donated by Goya Foods. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Goya Foods President Robert Unanue speaks at a press conference with Carlos Vecchio, the Venezuelan Ambassador who is recognized by the United States on December 21, 2020 in Doral, Florida. The two held the press conference to discuss details of a recent shipment of humanitarian aid to Venezuela, donated by Goya Foods. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:24
Goya CEO under fire for false Trump election claims
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks to CNN's Alisyn Camerota about why he thinks that the Republican Party will move on from former President Donald Trump.
PHOTO: CNN
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) speaks to CNN's Alisyn Camerota about why he thinks that the Republican Party will move on from former President Donald Trump.
Now playing
02:03
Kinzinger: Trump is a loser and we will move on
Now playing
04:17
NYC mayor says Gov. Cuomo should resign if allegations are true
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:29
NYT: Third woman comes forward against Gov. Andrew Cuomo
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House for Baltimore, Maryland on May 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trumps will attend a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine despite objections by Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young, whose residents remain under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 25: U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump depart the White House for Baltimore, Maryland on May 25, 2020 in Washington, DC. The Trumps will attend a Memorial Day ceremony at the Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine despite objections by Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young, whose residents remain under a stay-at-home order due to the coronavirus. (Photo by Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)
Now playing
02:10
Trump got vaccinated in secret. Here's why this matters
Kinzinger
PHOTO: CNN
Kinzinger
Now playing
03:55
Republican lawmaker reacts to being on Trump's 'enemies list'
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the first day of the Republican convention at the Mellon auditorium on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: Olivier Douliery/AFP/Getty Images
Former Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks during the first day of the Republican convention at the Mellon auditorium on August 24, 2020 in Washington, DC (Photo by Olivier DOULIERY / AFP) (Photo by OLIVIER DOULIERY/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
04:41
Haley flip flops on Trump, praising his 'strong speech'
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference being held in the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Joe Raedle/Getty Images
ORLANDO, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference being held in the Hyatt Regency on February 26, 2021 in Orlando, Florida. Begun in 1974, CPAC brings together conservative organizations, activists, and world leaders to discuss issues important to them. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:12
Women allege sexual misconduct against North Carolina GOP lawmaker
trump investigators murray dnt 03012021
PHOTO: CNN
trump investigators murray dnt 03012021
Now playing
02:56
Five elected investigators are turning their attention to Trump
Now playing
03:12
Avlon on CPAC: It was a hyperpartisan temper tantrum
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
PHOTO: Seth Wenig/Pool/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
Now playing
02:26
Haberman: This is the first time I can remember Cuomo apologizing
Now playing
02:11
'Sad': Kinzinger blasts Hawley's CPAC remarks
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
PHOTO: Seth Wenig/Pool/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
Now playing
01:12
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responds to allegations of sexual harassment

Editor’s Note: Aaron David Miller is a distinguished fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and author of “The End of Greatness: Why America Can’t Have (and Doesn’t Want) Another Great President.” Miller was a Middle East negotiator in Democratic and Republican administrations. Richard Sokolsky is a nonresident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former member of the US State Department’s Office of Policy Planning. The opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the authors; view more opinion articles on CNN.

(CNN) —  

Wednesday marks the first anniversary of the Trump administration’s decision to pick up its marbles and exit the Iran nuclear accord, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

PHOTO: Courtesy Wilson Center

Richard Sokolsky
PHOTO: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Richard Sokolsky

The sky hasn’t fallen. But tensions are mounting; Iran has not yet bolted from the agreement or resumed its nuclear enrichment, but reports suggest Tehran may well stop abiding by some provisions in the JCPOA, particularly on research on advanced centrifuges, as payback against US sanctions.

The two countries aren’t yet at war, though the Trump administration’s deployment of a carrier strike group this week, in an apparent reaction to intelligence on the movements of Iran-aligned groups (as administration officials told The New York Times), is a worrisome sign. But the administration achieved neither its publicly stated goal of forcing Tehran back to the nuclear negotiating table nor its unstated goal of regime collapse or change.

This state of affairs is likely to persist. Iran is hurting badly from US sanctions. And we should never rule out the possibility of an Iranian move to engage Washington, though the smart money is betting that Tehran will try to outlast this administration – though we can’t rule out that Iran could walk away from the nuclear accord, either. Right now, neither the United States nor Iran seems interested in serious negotiations. If we’re lucky, the two countries will avoid a serious military escalation, even though administration hawks appear to be itching for one. But diplomatically, both sides are on a road to nowhere. And here’s why.

Trump has flirted with the idea of trying to negotiate a better deal with Iran and has offered to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to do so. Trump’s grandstanding should not be taken seriously. The administration just turned the heat up even higher on sanctions. What’s more, the administration seems to hail from the “our way or the highway” school of diplomacy. Last May, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo set out a dozen conditions Iran would have to meet before the administration would lift sanctions and establish diplomatic relations with Tehran. This was not a serious offer to negotiate, but rather a demand that Iran wave the white flag of surrender. Pompeo and especially super-hawk John Bolton, the national security adviser, aren’t willing to consider a negotiation where they’d give as well as take; for both, compromise – at least with Iran – is seen as weakness, even appeasement.

The administration’s strategy, then, appears to be regime change. Unsurprisingly, Pompeo, who championed this goal before entering the administration, has been coy about its real intentions, saying the United States isn’t interested in a “military exercise” to change the Iranian regime. But the administration is doing everything it can to fracture and collapse the regime. Reneging on the nuclear deal, designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and pulling out all the stops to reduce Iranian oil exports to zero are aimed not at changing regime behavior but changing the regime. Before joining the administration, Bolton was a tireless advocate of bombing Iran and changing its regime; he recently told The New Yorker that opposition to the regime was widening.

A policy of regime change is quixotic and reckless. The repressive power of the Iranian state is formidable; there’s no public or organized political opposition to clerical rule, and millions of Iranians still support the regime. There is also no viable US military option to remove the regime, short of a full-scale invasion that would be a dangerous and fantastical proposition – and Iran has all kinds of ways to hurt the United States and its allies very badly, throughout the region.

The Iranian economy is deteriorating, but there is no humanitarian catastrophe, and it’s doubtful Iran’s oil exports can be reduced to zero. There’s no precedent for sanctions changing a nation’s approach on vital national interests, let alone bringing a regime down. The regime is not nearly as brittle as Pompeo and Bolton appear to believe.

Equally important, US and Iranian political clocks are out of sync. Americans are impatient when it comes to foreign policy. Not so for the Iranians. As Iran’s foreign minister recently opined, unlike the White House and members of Congress, Iran doesn’t look at history in terms of US election cycles; it looks at “history in millennia.” The Iranian regime has proven to be resilient, resourceful and patient in the face of US bullying and browbeating. Moreover, Iran’s religious and security establishment are determined to use the United States as a foil to maintain support for the regime and control the population.

Tehran will most likely limp along until the US presidential election, relying on a combination of its own sanctions-busting, the refusal of some countries to knuckle under completely to US pressure to stop buying Iranian oil completely, and the return of a tighter oil market that would maximize revenues from its remaining sales. And Iran always has a Plan B, if muddling through doesn’t pan out: resuming its nuclear program or even striking at the United States and its allies in the region, buckling down for confrontation, and demanding greater sacrifices from its public and relying more on a ruthless security apparatus to keep a lid on internal dissent.

Returning to the JCPOA, however, will be easier said than done. Nobody should be sanguine that a new administration would seamlessly pick up with Iran where the Obama administration left off. The Trump administration’s maximum-pressure campaign will establish a more demanding domestic standard for judging the adequacy of any future US-Iranian agreements.

A Democratic administration will face continued Iranian meddling in the region, Iranian human rights abuses at home and hostility to the accord from Republicans. In fact, several Democratic presidential candidates have said that Iran will need to make more concessions, and there’s a growing body of opinion that believes the United States should move to address the flaws in the accord. But after two more years of punishing sanctions, Tehran will be even more mistrustful and bitter – and unwilling to make any additional concessions. A successor administration’s effort to demand more without giving Iran more, in return, will be met with defiance.

The painful reality is that the trust and overlapping mutual interests necessary for a functional, let alone productive US-Iranian relationship, don’t exist. And it’s possible, even though both sides have been careful to avoid military escalation, that one might occur anyway. Bolton seems to think, quite mistakenly, that such a confrontation might play to America’s advantage. The United States and Iran face a dangerous and uncertain future. America can’t control Iran’s leaders, who have divergent interests and their own domestic constraints and harbor deep suspicions toward their American foe.

The best advice we could give this administration would be not to provoke an escalation but to open a serious dialogue with Iran to avoid one; the best advice to the next one would be to keep that channel open and, before reaching any hard and fast conclusions, engage Iran on any number of issues, from the nuclear deal to regional security, to test the limits and parameters of the possible. Don’t expect miracles or transformations. There won’t be any. US-Iranian relations will be rough and coldly transactional for the foreseeable future, and if we’re lucky, there won’t be any serious shooting.