Joe Biden came to office determined to negotiate America’s way back into the Iran nuclear deal. His team made clear that it was willing to make major concessions to accomplish this dubious objective.
What concessions? According to Iran’s foreign minister Javad Zarif, Biden has expressed willingness to lift sanctions on the “Supreme Leader,” remove restrictions on all but one Iranian bank, and rescind the foreign terrorist designation for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. He also says the U.S. has agreed to undo several executive orders and drop other sanctions.
Zarif may be lying, but this sounds like his version of what constitutes an opening bid. And Biden is desperate to start the bidding.
If Biden is willing to make these concessions and other significant ones involving large amounts of money, it’s possible that Iran will begin to negotiate seriously with the U.S., for whatever that might be worth. In the meantime, though, Iran’s recent actions demonstrate it’s view of what it can get away with while Biden is president.
The Wall Street Journal’s editors provide the details:
Federal prosecutors said last week that an Iranian intelligence network planned to kidnap a U.S. citizen in New York and bring her to Iran. A dual U.S.-Iranian national, Masih Alinejad has reported extensively on human-rights abuses by the Islamic Republic. The journalist has built a large following on social networks while pushing for a tougher American approach to Tehran.
The prosecutors, who indicted four Iranian nationals, said Iranian intelligence has targeted others in Canada, the United Kingdom and elsewhere. Last year Tehran executed Ruhollah Zam, a France-based Iranian exile abducted while traveling in Iraq. Europe has previously imposed sanctions on Iran for planning terrorist attacks and murders on the Continent.
Meanwhile, Reuters reports that an Iranian commander has encouraged Iran-backed militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets in Iraq and Syria. Shiite militias have attacked U.S. positions in Iraq at least 26 times since President Biden took office, estimates Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Biden ordered retaliatory airstrikes on the armed groups twice this year. But two American service members were wounded this month during a rocket barrage after the last pinprick U.S. retaliation.
That’s not all:
Iran’s violations of the 2015 nuclear deal also continue. Lame duck President Hassan Rouhani says the country can enrich uranium to weapons-grade purity, or about 90%. So far it has stopped at 60%, but that’s well above the 3.67% allowed under the deal.
The government is stockpiling other illicit material and ignoring its inspection obligations to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov admitted, “Iran seems to be going too far.”
What’s the point of negotiating with the dishonest leaders of a rogue regime like Iran’s? As the WSJ editors say, “Mr. Biden has ample cause to walk away from the nuclear talks and keep the sanctions pressure on.”
In my view, Biden also has ample cause to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities, and not just through cyber methods. Doing so may or not be prudent, all things considered. However, it’s the only course that’s likely to prevent this terrorist, implacably hostile state from obtaining nuclear weapons. And it’s justified by Iran’s attacks on U.S. forces in the Middle East.
Biden won’t launch an attack, of course. He’s unlikely even to walk away from talks with the mullahs.
Under Biden, Iran is free to do just about whatever it wants with little fear of serious retaliation.