The Biden administration desperately wants a nuclear deal signed with Iran before the midterm elections. With the White House poll numbers in the dumpster, America’s chief executive is hanging his hopes on the latest draft agreement. While the US president has been bogged down attempting to convince Americans there is no inflation and that the Afghanistan retreat debacle was an insignificant moment in history, nuclear weapons negotiations with Tehran have been grinding on – but not without twists and turns.
Nevertheless, as one news outlet explained, there is a newfound optimism regarding the prospects of breathing life into the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). One of the more optimistic participants in the negotiations is Russia’s permanent representative to international organizations in Vienna, Mikhail Ulyanov. “The final result depends on how the #US reacts to the last Iranian reasonable suggestions,” Ulyanov said August 17 according to Newsweek, adding that “the latest (and the last) Iranian drafting suggestions are not controversial.”
However, in a press conference on the same day, Ned Price, spokesman for the State Department, was cautious and showed no hint of the modest enthusiasm coming from the Russian negotiator. Instead, Price turned to a tried-and-true tactic – scare the American people with the specter of Iran breaking out with atomic weapons soon. “[T]erms of Iran’s breakout time to where we are now, with a breakout time that can be measured not in a year, not in months, but in weeks or potentially even less. That, for us, is the guiding principle here. It’s the national security concerns,” Price explained. That’s why the Biden administration is “steadfast in seeking to return to the JCPOA agreement.”
The JCPOA was the flawed Obama-era compact that guaranteed at some point Iran would be free to develop a nuclear weapon and did not in any way reduce Iran’s development of long-range missiles, putting the Gulf States – particularly Israel – at risk. The accord lifted economic sanctions, and, to sweeten the pot, Obama gave Tehran $150 billion in cash flown in on pallets. Not fond of symbolic gestures that put the US at risk, the Trump administration pulled out of the JCPOA in 2018 and reinstated sanctions.
Iran Nuclear Deal Show Stoppers
According to reports, the current draft agreement text includes the US unfreezing $7 billion in Iranian funds stuck in South Korean banks as part of sanctions and an additional $90 billion in foreign currency reserves. That would fund more bloodshed, launching missiles into American military camps, spreading global terrorism, and funding Hezbollah and Hamas to attack Israel. A Reuters report points out that, as it stands, the draft agreement has three showstoppers:
- Tehran wants the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp taken off the designated terrorist organization list.
- Tehran demands a guarantee regardless of future US administrations; any agreement will be binding in perpetuity.
- Because the supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, is such an honorable, truthful Iranian chief executive, Khamenei wants the International Atomic Energy Agency charged with inspecting Tehran’s nuclear sites for compliance shut down. So, there would be no verification of Iran’s compliance as a good global citizen.
Iran Sends Out Assassins to Demonstrate Good Faith
To demonstrate good faith in recovering the JCPOA, Tehran’s leadership has been busy sending out assassins to kill US public figures and leaders like John Bolton, former national security advisor to President Donald Trump. It doesn’t seem like the geopolitical behavior of a country interested in securing relief from the JCPOA economic sanctions. Fox News reported:
“Former White House national security adviser Amb. John Bolton said the assassination plot against him by an Iranian operative, and continued threats from Iran to American citizens on American soil is ‘unprecedented’ and ‘an act of war,’ telling Fox News the Biden administration has been ‘signaling weakness’ to Tehran and should ‘terminate’ negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal.”
Iran has targeted others on former President Trump’s national security team for elimination, like Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Bolton has not minced words regarding his assessment of the Biden frenzy to nail down a nuclear deal with Iran. “President Biden could be making a ‘treasonous’ deal with Iran if his administration offers guarantees that future US presidents would be constrained from exiting a renewed nuclear accord with the Islamic republic,” Bolton told reporters.
The demand that no future US government will rescind the agreement would obligate US presidents to come to live with the accord whether Iran meets its terms and conditions or not. “But President Joe Biden cannot promise this because the nuclear deal is a non-binding political understanding, not a legally-binding treaty,” Reuters explained. Trump could walk away from the bad deal, and he did. If whatever Biden, the European Union, Russia, China, and Iran come up with looks like the old JCPOA, it’s not likely to be ratified by the US Senate. So, any “forever agreement” seems to be dead in the water.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.