In response to former President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from his predecessor Barack Obama’s 2015 Iran nuclear deal, then-presidential candidate Joe Biden announced that, if elected, he would reenter the deal and “work with our allies to make it longer and stronger.”
This, Biden claimed, would curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions and moderate its malign behavior. He was and is wrong.
The mere fact that Biden claimed to be seeking a “longer and stronger” deal puts the lie to Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry’s repeated claims that the 2015 deal blocked all paths to an Iranian nuclear weapon. In fact, the deal gave Iran a legal path to a nuclear weapon, a ballistic missile system with which to deliver it and billions of dollars in sanctions relief to fund its global terrorist network.
Biden’s strategy appears to entail reentering the deal and then persuading Iran to make more concessions. This is like selling your house for $500,000 and then, after the closing, asking the buyer to pay you another $500,000.
Success is even more remote because Biden has not learned from the failed Obama-Kerry appeasement strategy.
Over bipartisan objections from Congress, Biden has failed to enforce certain sanctions on Iran and received no concessions in return. He is even unwilling to protect and defend American forces deployed in Iraq and Syria when they are attacked either directly or indirectly by Iran. There have been more than 80 such attacks on U.S. service members with no meaningful retaliation.
Biden has claimed that the U.S. has “allies” who will work with the U.S. to obtain a “longer and stronger” deal. Clearly, Israel is not among them. Yet Israel is America’s closest and most important ally in the region, if not the world. It is the nation most impacted by Iran’s efforts to obtain a nuclear weapon. And Israelis from across the political spectrum oppose Biden’s efforts to return to the 2015 deal. Our Sunni Arab partners are also unalterably opposed to it.
Perhaps Biden considers China and Russia allies. After all, they are part of the P5+1 group of U.N. Security Council members plus Germany that is working with the administration to reach a deal with Iran.
Biden actually allowed Russia to act as an interlocutor between America and Iran because the ayatollah refused to allow his negotiators to speak directly to U.S. diplomats. This was the case until Russia invaded Ukraine. Since then, Iran and Russia have become close strategic allies, to the point that Iran is supplying Russia with drones to kill Ukrainians.
Just as Russia has been empowered by America’s efforts to reach an arrangement with Iran, so too has China. Rather than support Israel and our Arab partners, Biden has spent his entire term undermining Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This has only pushed our Arab partners closer to China, as shown by the recent China-brokered agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran.
It appears that just getting Iran to say “yes” to something is now a higher priority than stopping its nuclear program.
Indeed, the rumored new agreement with Iran will not even be in writing, relying on an oral pledge alone, and will not require Iran to dismantle any of its nuclear infrastructure.
That is significant because Iran is a nuclear-threshold state. It has both the technological capabilities and the fissile material needed to make a nuclear weapon. In exchange for an Iranian agreement to remain a threshold state rather a breakout state, the U.S. will reportedly lift sanctions on Iran, which will free up tens of billions of dollars.
This money will be used to fund the Iranian military, the ayatollah’s hegemonic goals in the region and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as it trains and arms Hezbollah, Hamas and the rest of its international terrorist network.
Critically, there are apparently no enforcement mechanisms to ensure Iran will not secretly break out to a nuclear weapon. This is reminiscent of the 2015 deal’s prohibition on inspections of Iran’s military bases.
While America gets absolutely nothing from the prospective new agreement, Biden appears to believe it will benefit him personally.
There are two reasons for this. First, assuming Iran keeps its word, it will delay an Iranian breakout until after the 2024 election. Thus, Biden can claim he derailed Iran’s nuclear ambitions. Of course, what he says the day after the 2024 election when Iran breaks out will be interesting to hear.
Second, Tehran has reportedly agreed to release four Western hostages. Thus, Biden can boast about bringing Americans home. As night follows day, however, four more Western hostages will soon be kidnapped and held for ransom as bargaining chips for a future deal.
Biden’s supporters argue that not even Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is objecting to the deal. Therefore, it must be a good one.
When asked about the new deal, however, Netanyahu responded, “What’s on the agenda at the moment between Washington and Tehran is not a nuclear deal, it’s a mini-deal. … We will be able to handle it.”
From Netanyahu’s perspective, this agreement, unlike the 2015 deal, does not give Iran a legal path to a nuclear weapon. More importantly, there is nothing in the deal that impedes Israel’s ability to defend itself.
As Netanyahu said, “More than 90% of our security issues stem from Iran and its [proxies]. … Our position is clear: Israel will not be bound by any deal with Iran and will continue to defend itself.”
The 2015 Iran deal created an existential threat for Israel because it not only gave Iran a nuclear weapon, it hamstrung Israel’s ability to act unilaterally. In contrast, while this new agreement does nothing to prevent Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, it does not sanction it, nor does it prevent Israel from acting.
While the billions of dollars in sanctions relief will fund Iran’s military and terrorist network, Netanyahu has made the political calculation that it is not worth alienating the Biden administration over the issue.
A “shorter and weaker” agreement is better than a “longer and stronger” one. However, a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by the U.S. and its true allies would be better. If the goal is to prevent a nuclear Iran, we must be prepared to do what is necessary to achieve that goal.