A nuclear deal with Iran is the best option

People flash the 'V for Victory' sign and hold an Iranian flag out of a car window as they celebrate on Valiasr street in northern Tehran on April 2, 2015, after the announcement of an agreement on Iran nuclear talks. Iran and global powers sealed a deal on April 2 on plans to curb Tehran's chances for getting a nuclear bomb, laying the ground for a new relationship between the Islamic republic and the West. AFP PHOTO / ATTA KENARE (Photo credit should read ATTA KENARE/AFP/Getty Images)

(CNN)Countries are eager to buy Iran's oil, which tends to sell at a discount. The key player here is probably Beijing. As the West has shunned Iran, the country has deepened its economic ties with China. A 2012 Rand study notes that, "Over the past several years, China has become Iran's biggest oil customer and biggest economic partner." China could view the West's isolation of Iran as an opportunity to build a special relationship with it and develop that country's vast energy economy.

If, however, the sanctions can be maintained, Iran will be in trouble. Oil prices have halved and Iran is bleeding resources in Syria and Iraq (and Yemen, though considerably less there). Tehran is a proud, nationalistic country. It has withstood challenges in the past — during the Iran-Iraq war, it endured eight years of brutal conflict, chemical weapons attacks, and half a million dead — but the pressure will be real.
Would continued sanctions halt the nuclear program? That's highly unlikely.