(September 6, 2021 / JNS) During their meetings at the White House on Aug. 27, U.S. President Joe Biden told Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett that the U.S. is committed “to ensur[ing] Iran never develops a nuclear weapon. …We’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us. But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”
The Biden administration made it clear from the get-go that it intended to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the 2015 nuclear deal, negotiated by former President Barack Obama, from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018.
Lest one think that the current attempt to reverse Trump’s move indicates the success of the previous policy forged by Obama, Iran consistently violated the JCPOA. Furthermore, the Biden administration’s efforts have not only failed abysmally but have emboldened the terror-supporting Iranian regime in its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
Before the JCPOA was finalized, the Obama administration had repeatedly approved the increase of sanctions on Tehran, making it desperate for a negotiated deal as its economy was crumbling. A major criticism of the JCPOA was the elimination of these sanctions, enabling Iran to receive more than $100 billion dollars.
Moreover, the JCPOA lacked stringent nuclear-oversight provisions and clauses deterring Iran’s ballistic-missile program and global terrorist activities. With the influx of cash, Iran increased its defense budget by 40 percent, and enhanced funding to its proxies, such as the Lebanon-based terrorist organization Hezbollah and Hamas, which rules Gaza. It was also able to expand its ballistic-missile program, while still pursuing nuclear weapons—as Israel’s 2018 seizure of a trove of documents from a warehouse in Tehran illustrated.
As a result of the above, Trump exited the JCPOA and reinstituted massive sanctions on Iran, with much success. Iran’s economy suffered greatly, and the regime was unable to provide the same level of support to Hezbollah and Hamas.
In addition, the Trump administration carried out the Jan. 3, 2020 assassination of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force commander, Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani. Subsequently, on Nov. 27 that year, Israel assassinated the head of Iran’s nuclear program, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
It is thus that Iran did not want Trump to remain in office for a second term. This was borne out by U.S. intelligence that Iran was attempting to interfere in the Nov. 2020 American presidential elections in favor of Biden.
Seeking diplomacy as a way to prevent a nuclearized Iran, the Biden administration wants a better, stronger agreement than the JCPOA. In order to achieve this, however, Washington should have continued increasing sanctions, as the Obama administration had done.
Instead, it appointed Robert Malley, an architect of the JCPOA, as U.S. special representative to Iran and lifted additional sanctions. This has served only to embolden and further radicalize the regime in Tehran.
Indeed, Iran responded to the above U.S. actions by “electing” mass murderer in Ibrahim Raisi, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s candidate, as president. Once instated in the role, Raisi appointed such figures as former IRGC chief Mohsen Rezaee—wanted by Interpol for the 1994 mass murder of 85 Argentinians at the Jewish community center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires—as vice president for economic affairs, and Gen. Ahmad Vahidi Ahmad Vahidi, also involved in the attack, as interior minister.
Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran, for the first time, has produced uranium metal-enriched up to 20 percent and has significantly increased its production capacity of enriched uranium to 60 percent, both of which are prohibited as part of the JCPOA.
Germany, France and Britain—parties to the JCPOA—called the above moves “serious violations” of Iran’s commitment under the deal. They said that “both are key steps in the development of a nuclear weapon, and Iran has no credible civilian need for either measure.”
The “concerns are deepened by the fact that Iran has significantly limited IAEA access through withdrawing from JCPOA-agreed monitoring arrangements,” they added in a joint statement. What they did not do, however, is reinstate sanctions.
Describing the current situation to the foreign press last week, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said, “Right now it seems like the agreement is not going anywhere and the talks are not going anywhere. The world needs a plan B, and Iran needs to know there is a credible threat on it if they will keep on advancing their nuclear program as they do now.”
In an interview with Bloomberg TV on Sept. 3, Malley said that the United States is prepared to be patient with Iran about a return to the JCPOA, but “can’t wait forever.” Isn’t it already obvious, as Lapid pointed out, that that “the agreement is not going anywhere and a plan B is needed”?
Former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer has been more direct, stating that Iran will obtain nuclear weapons “if Israel doesn’t stop it.”
At this point, it may be too late for sanctions to be effective, and that the only remaining option is a military one—for which Israel has been preparing. But not imposing sanctions immediately will guarantee that the military option is the only one left.
Biden announced that he would not withdraw troops from Afghanistan until all Americans were evacuated. He didn’t keep his promise. His assurances to Israel about Iran, then, cannot be counted on. Judging by the Afghanistan debacle, there are two possibilities: a nuclear Iran or a major Israeli strike on the Islamic Republic’s facilities.
Farley Weiss, former president of the National Council of Young Israel, is an intellectual property attorney for the law firm of Weiss & Moy. The views expressed are the author’s, and not necessarily representative of NCYI.
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