Yesterday, Iranian missiles struck near the huge U.S. consulate in northern Iraq. Iran claimed the attack was in retaliation for an Israeli strike that killed two members of its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in Syria last week.
What is President Biden going to do about it? He’s bound and determined to make a new nuclear weapons deal with Iran.
For one brief moment, it appeared that Vladimir Putin, of all people, was going to prevent Joe Biden from making the worst mistake of his presidency. Biden is obsessed with getting Iran to sign a new version of the 2015 nuclear weapons deal that Obama signed and Trump canceled in 2018. It will be even worse than the original deal.
Biden is obsessed with getting a new deal with Iran for two reasons. First, he has dedicated his presidency to undoing everything that Donald Trump did, regardless of how good it was for America’s economy and national security. Trump’s cancellation of Obama’s “Joint Cooperative Plan of Action” deal (JCPOA) with Iran was one of the best things he did as president. Second, Biden wants to outdo Obama and believes a new version of the JCPOA would be his signal achievement.
For one brief moment, it appeared that Vladimir Putin, of all people, was going to prevent Joe Biden from making the worst mistake of his presidency.
Biden has relied on indirect negotiations with Iran because Iran’s negotiators won’t deal directly with Americans. Biden is convinced that he can trust Iran to live up to its obligations under a new nuclear weapons deal.
Last month, Biden’s Iran negotiation team fell apart when three of the team quit because Biden was being too soft on Iran. Our position in the talks has not improved since.
Thanks to leaks by former State Department official Gabriel Noronha, who reportedly has been given a leaked draft of the deal, the agreement Biden is about to sign would do several things. Among them is the release of about $7 billion held by South Korea which Iran could spend on its nuclear program and terrorism.
Also, according to Noronha’s statements, the deal would lift sanctions on Iranians Mohsen Rezaei and Ali Akbar Velayati who were responsible for the 1994 bombing of a Jewish facility in Argentina where 85 people were killed, and hundreds more were injured. It would also remove sanctions against Iranian Gen. Hossein Dehghan, who led the Iranian Guard forces in Lebanon tied to the 1983 Beirut bombings where 241 U.S. Marines were killed.
As Noronha has said, the new deal would be a disaster.
About a week ago, Russia demanded that if Biden wanted to close the deal with Iran that Russian trade with Iran would have to be exempted from the new sanctions the world has imposed on Russia over Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Last Tuesday, Russia’s principle negotiator, Mikhail Ulyanov, increased Russia’s demands by seeking to protect all future trade and investment with Iran against Ukraine-related sanctions.
Ulyanov has been the principle negotiator with Iran. China, the UK, France, and Germany — all of whom signed the original deal in 2015 — were content with giving Ulyanov that responsibility. So was Biden.
On March 12, the Biden administration said it would either negotiate the deal without Russia’s inclusion or Russia would have to drop its demand. It isn’t clear at this point whether China or Russia would accept a new deal without Biden caving in on Russia’s demands. It’s also unclear whether Biden will, sometime soon, cave in to Russia’s demands.
It’s not too early to begin to learn the lessons that Putin’s Ukraine invasion teaches. As I wrote here last week, the first lesson is that Russia is a brutal power and that Putin is comfortable with his forces committing war crimes to achieve his goal of bringing Ukraine back under total Russian control. Biden won’t learn that lesson.
Another lesson from that war is that Russia is not a “new” nation under Putin, but just another Stalinist power intent on expanding its domination over former Soviet states. Neither China nor Iran is more trustworthy. Biden is unable or unwilling to learn that lesson.
On March 6, Ulyanov bragged about how Biden has been taken to the cleaners in the Iran negotiations. He said, “I am absolutely sincere in this regard when I say that Iran got much more than it could expect,” he said. “Our Chinese friends were also very efficient and useful as co-negotiators.”
What Iran has gained has been widely reported. To begin with, Iran has violated virtually all the requirements of the 2015 deal. It is now reportedly within a month of being able to produce a nuclear weapon. This is the much-feared “breakout point” that Israelis have warned about for years. Under the original deal, Iran’s enrichment of uranium was capped at 3.67 percent. It has enriched significant weights of uranium to 60 percent, which is close to weapons-grade material, manufactured uranium metal, and is believed to have developed nuclear triggers that can detonate nuclear weapons.
Iran’s development of missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons was not even covered by Obama’s 2015 deal. Iran won’t admit whether it now has missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons.
In the new deal, essentially all sanctions would be ended against Iran and the Iranians who have worked assiduously to produce nuclear weapons. Even the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is under the direct control of the ayatollahs, would be relieved of sanctions. The IRGC, which is Tehran’s principal terrorist arm, would be sanction-free under the new deal.
In March 2021, China signed an agreement with Iran under which it promised to invest $400 billion in Iran over 25 years in exchange for a steady supply of Iranian oil. Biden has never attempted to sanction China for violating our sanction against purchase of Iranian oil.
Under a new deal Iran would get access to about $7 billion (possibly as much as $12 billion) by South Korea. We should remember that Biden persuaded South Korea to release about $18 million of those funds to pay Iran’s delinquent UN dues.
Iran would also gain access to funds held by the U.S. under Biden’s new deal. Internationally, there is about $120 billion in Iran’s funds frozen by international sanctions. Iran would gain access to all or most of those funds under Biden’s new deal. Anyone who doubts that much of those funds would go to fund Iran’s terror operations around the world is as incompetent as Biden and his national security team.
The other terms of any new agreement won’t include those necessary to preclude Iran from developing and using nuclear weapons. There will be no new inspection regime that would allow inspectors to visit any suspected nuclear development site without notice or other limitation. They won’t compel Iran to export all of its enriched uranium with means to verify that they have done so. In short, it will be another disaster much like Obama’s 2015 deal.
The negotiations were suspended Friday but, sooner or later and probably too soon, Biden will make his new deal with Iran. It will endanger our national security and that of NATO members and Israel.
Those of us who have followed events in Iran since 1979 when the ayatollahs seized power know that Iran will never surrender its nuclear weapons capabilities peacefully. All Biden’s new agreement would accomplish is to aid Iran’s global terrorism and make war — possibly nuclear war — more imminent.