Why Giving In to Iran Is a Grave Mistake
Unlike American President Joe Biden, Iran’s new President Ebrahim Raisi has refused to entertain negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) in his first three months in office. The Biden Administration, on the other hand, after Joe Biden’s inauguration, immediately began seeking renewal of the flawed and unrealistic agreement. It is obvious that Iran has never been honest and sincere about negotiations that would in any way keep them from ultimately acquiring a nuclear weapon. However, they are quite willing to insist on sanctions relief. And the terror regime will ultimately agree to talk about it—for a price.
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said last week that he was approached about restarting the JCPOA talks while attending the United Nations General Assembly. His response? “I told the mediators if America’s intentions are serious then a serious indication was needed.” What would that be? Ten billion dollars of cash, merely as a gesture of goodwill. Notice his implied accusation is that America is the one who is not serious. Also implied is that it’s not the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism that must offer a token of goodwill, but rather the United States.
The entire proposition and this conversation are not an exercise in confidence-building. The United States does not have a good track record of negotiating with the rogue nation. It was the Obama Administration that (literally hoping no one would notice) sent pallets of cash amounting to 400 million dollars to Iran in the dead of night in January 2016. However, someone leaked a photograph of the cash-laden pallet after the plane landed in Tehran. The motive, according to officials in Washington, was to sweeten the deal so that Iran would sign the JCPOA and release Americans held in Iran. Another 1.7 billion dollars in cash was eventually handed over.
Look for the Biden Administration to use the same excuse that Obama officials used if the U.S. ends up paying the 10-billion-dollar goodwill gesture: Well, it’s not really our money anyway. It belonged to Iran and was frozen after the 1979 revolution in Iran. So, it’s not like we are giving them U.S. aid. Iran also insists that all financial sanctions against the nation must be removed before any new agreement can be finalized.
It is apparent that there is nothing Iran might do to make Joe Biden give up on reentering the so-called nuclear deal with Iran. Iran knows this and they are playing the Administration.
There are multiple flaws in the JCPOA, beginning with the fact that no one knows how far along Iran is in actually producing a nuclear weapon. U.S. officials believe that the breakout time—the time needed for Iran to actually produce the device—has gone from 18 months to just a few months. The IAEA says that Iran has continued to enrich uranium from 5% purity allowed by the agreement to 60% now; Iran has also increased the number of centrifuges to amounts way beyond what they agreed to in the original JCPOA. And news sources recently reported on activity at one Iranian site that is suspected of manufacturing “shock wave generators”—devices that miniaturize a nuclear weapon, a necessary step in using missiles to deliver nuclear weapons. Iran has ignored U.N. restrictions that forbid them from ballistic missile research and development. They now have the largest missile arsenal in the Middle East.
These facts must also be considered with the following additional weaknesses of the original JCPOA. The agreement did not forbid Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. It merely delayed it for approximately a decade. The Obama Administration never explained exactly what would happen after that. More negotiations? More cash? Additionally, the JCPOA did not give international inspectors the right to inspect anytime and at any location. IAEA inspectors had to give Iran advanced warning of planned inspections of nuclear facilities. And all Iranian military installations were off limits to all inspections. The JCPOA was a sham, and a dangerous one at that.
The JCPOA allows the world’s most dangerous country to possess the world’s most dangerous weapon. Iran’s chief strategic goal is to possess a nuclear weapon. They are well on the way to achieving that goal.
As the Wall Street Journal points out, the previous U.S. Administration left the Biden Administration in a strong position against Iran. Iran’s gross domestic product had shrunk 60% between 2017 and 2020 thanks to U.S. sanctions. Inflation and weak bond sales were seriously damaging the economy. (They even had to cut their support of terror groups like Hezbollah and the Houthi rebels significantly!) Less cash meant less research and development on their weapons program. Protests in the streets threatened the regime’s power over its own people. The United States had withdrawn from the agreement, as it did not stop Iran from getting a weapon and Iran was already cheating on the agreement. Sanctions were working.
Here are some glaring questions that must be asked. Since sanctions were working, why would the Biden Administration consider lifting those sanctions? Why would the world merely postpone Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon as opposed to forbidding that Iran should ever have such a weapon? Since Iran has violated the original JCPOA agreements, why would one expect that they will now abide by the agreements? How should the new U.S. negotiators (which are essentially the same old negotiators from the Obama Administration) address verifiability in any potential new agreement? The old JCPOA did not even address Iran’s ballistic missile program or its exporting of terror in the region? Why not? Until there is a strong, verifiable agreement—why would we give them billions in cash?
These are not mere rhetorical questions. They are questions that demand answers. They are questions upon which the potential answers impact the peace and security of the region, the world, and the United States. As the U.S. and our allies engage with Iran, we must view that nation as they are—not as we wish them to be. Wishing for peace does not make peace. Wanting Iran to comply and cease its threats to its Gulf State neighbors, Israel, and the world does not make it so. Diplomacy that believes if we are nice, generous, and trustworthy then our enemies will model our own behavior and also be nice, generous, and trustworthy is dangerously naïve.
We should negotiate with Iran. Diplomacy is always preferable to war and instability. But the negotiations must be realistic and tough. At this point, the Iranians are not even willing to enter serious negotiations. Contrary to the Iranians’ posturing, they need the negotiations more than we do. In the unlikely scenario that Iran wants to reach a new agreement, any agreement that keeps Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon must be complete, permanent, and verifiable. That should never be negotiable. If President Biden gives in to Iran’s duplicity and demands, his legacy will be to have made the world a more dangerous place. Say it won’t be so, Joe.