In what is being termed a “make or break” week in negotiations between Iran and the West over restarting the nuclear deal Donald Trump exited in 2018, Joe Biden is sending a clear, unambiguous signal of surrender to the Iranians in a desperate attempt to get them to sign.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed several sanctions waivers related to Iran’s nuclear activities with the promise of more to come if the mullahs would do Biden the favor of agreeing to another useless agreement.
The Iranians now know that they have Biden exactly where they want them. They will extract every last concession possible from the Americans before they decide whether having Joe Biden as a friend will be worth it.
U.S. officials said that is critical to building support for a return to the deal and denied they were granting Iran any concessions. The officials said the waivers are necessary to bring the other parties to the deal — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the European Union — on board.
“We did NOT provide sanctions relief for Iran and WILL NOT until/unless Tehran returns to its commitments under the JCPOA,” State Department spokesman Ned Price tweeted, using the acronym for the official name of the nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.
Technically, this isn’t sanctions “relief” — it’s the preamble to lifting sanctions that would depend on whether Iran agrees to return to the deal.
But the idea that Iran “returns to its commitments under the JCPOA” is ludicrous. Those commitments are beyond salvaging, including Iran restraining its enrichment activities not to exceed 5%. Today, they have a stockpile of enriched uranium at the 60% level. They have also vastly improved the efficiency and modernization of their centrifuges and have yet to promise to supply the IAEA with data they refused to hand over that was denied the agency for nearly six months.
There is no turning back the clock on a deal that was fatally flawed from the start.
The Trump administration had ended the so-called “civ-nuke” waivers in May 2020 as part of its “maximum pressure” campaign against Iran that began when Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018, complaining that it was the worst diplomatic agreement ever negotiated and gave Iran a pathway to developing the bomb.
As a presidential candidate, Joe Biden made a U.S. return to the nuclear deal a priority, and his administration has pursued that goal, though there has been little progress toward that end since he took office a year ago. Administration officials said the waivers were being restored to help push the Vienna negotiations forward.
Whatever deal that’s negotiated between Iran and the Biden administration is going to be worse than the one that President Obama agreed to in 2015. It can’t help but be worse. Which country is going to take possession of Iran’s stockpile of uranium enriched beyond 5%? Russia stepped forward last time — a dubious choice considering it’s in Russia’s interest to strengthen Iran against the U.S. But what about those ultra-modern centrifuges? What kind of access will be granted to the IAEA? And what to do about many unresolved nuclear issues from the past decades?
Those questions are irrelevant. Joe Biden is in deep, deep, political trouble and needs an international “success” to bolster his standing and give the Democrats a shot in the arm going into the November midterms.
And his new friends in Tehran will be more than happy to oblige.
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