Death Of Nuclear Deal With Iran Adds To Biden's Failures In U.S. Foreign Policy

by | Dec 21, 2022


When the Biden administration came into office it had promised to reenter into the JCPOA nuclear deal with Iran. Under Trump the US had left the deal and had reissued sanctions against Iran. Tehran followed up by increasing its enrichment capabilities and by accumulating more enriched Uranium.

It would have been easy for Biden to immediately eliminate the sanctions and to rejoin the deal. Iran would surely have followed up by returning to the enrichment levels the deal allows for.

But Biden bungled the issue. For months nothing happened. Then he send negotiators to Iran who demanded additional concessions by Iran while offering less sanction relief. Iran rejected that. It demanded that Biden guarantees that the US would stick to the deal under future administrations. The negotiations were drawn out and made little progress.

The European Union, which is part of the JCPOA deal, finally wrote a compromise draft agreement which was submitted to the Iranian negotiators in Vienna. Iran made some small changes to the draft and send it back. The EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell publicly said that Iran’s changes were “reasonable” and that he hoped for a quick US agreement to the draft. But the Biden administration, which worried about the midterm elections, called the Iranian changes “not constructive” and rejected the draft agreement.

Meanwhile old accusation were re-raised over alleged finds of radioactive substances at two places that had never been part of Iran’s civil nuclear program. US intelligence agrees that Iran never had a military nuclear program though it allegedly once studied how one could be set up. The IAEA demanded that Iran explains how the substances got there. Iran says it does not know. Further IAEA inspection demands were rejected and IAEA inspections of some elements of Iran’s enrichment facilities were limited.

The Biden administration had thought that, under sanction pressure, Iran would eventually succumb to its demands. That was a rather stupid miscalculation. The revolutionary Iran is not a country that succumbs to pressure.

Iran is still ready for a deal but Biden has given up:

Biden in newly surfaced video: Iran nuclear deal is “dead”

President Biden said on the sidelines of a Nov. 4 election rally that the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran is “dead,” but stressed the US won’t formally announce it, according to a new video that surfaced on social media late Monday.

Why it matters: It’s the strongest confirmation so far that the Biden administration believes there’s no path forward for the Iran deal, which leaves key questions about the future of Tehran’s nuclear program.

– In late October, US envoy for Iran Rob Malley said that the administration is not going to “waste time” on trying to revive the Iran nuclear deal at this time considering Tehran’s crackdown on protesters, Iranian support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, and Iran’s positions on its nuclear program.

Driving the news: Biden made the remark in a short conversation with a woman who attended an election rally in Oceanside, California.

– The woman asked Biden to announce that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the Iran deal is formally known, is dead.

– Biden responded that he would not “for a lot of reasons.”

– But then he added: “It is dead, but we are not gonna announce it. Long story.”

– The woman replied that the Iranian regime doesn’t represent the people. “I know they don’t represent you. But they will have a nuclear weapon that they’ll represent,” he said.

What they’re saying: “The JCPOA is not our focus right now. It’s not on the agenda,” a White House National Security Council spokesperson told Axios.

– “We don’t see a deal coming together anytime soon,” the spokesperson said, pointing to Iran’s crackdown on protesters and support for Russia in the war in Ukraine. “Our focus is on practical ways to confront them in these areas.”

The US has supported the protests and arranged for the attacks on Iranian security personnel by armed ethnic Kurd and Baloch insurgents. It is the US that had kept up the sanctions up. It is the US that pushed the IAEA to investigate the old unfounded claims. Iran is free to sell and buy arms to and from whomever it wants.

If the US really wants ‘practical ways to confront Iran’ over any of those issues it will have to fight against Iran. Without the JCPOA deal there will also be more pressure on Biden and whoever follows him to go to all out war against Iran. But Iran is well protected and its missiles can hurt a lot of US installations and friends in the region. A war would likely end with huge damage to Iran and a US retreat from the Middle East.

Iran will continue to increase its civil nuclear capabilities. But it is unlikely to start a military program to build nuclear weapons. Its religious leaders have decided that weapons of mass destruction are against their religious duties and beliefs.

President Obama had invested quite a lot to get the JCPOA done. One wonders what he thinks of Biden’s decision to not resurrect but to destroy his signature foreign policy achievement.

For other countries the US behavior towards the nuclear deal demonstrates again that the US is not-agreement-capable. That alone is already a huge failure for US foreign policy.

Reprinted with permission from Moon of Alabama.