Earlier this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the breakout time for Iran to produce fissile material for a nuclear weapon had now come down to “a matter of weeks.”
This is clearly deeply alarming news. But why did Blinken choose to announce this to the world? After all, it invites the question, “So what are you going to do about it?”
Blinken told the hearing that renewing the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, which lifted sanctions in return for limitations on its nuclear program, remained “the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran.”
But negotiations stalled several weeks ago, as the result of widespread outrage over leaks revealing that the American negotiators had accepted Iran’s demand that the United States lift the terrorist designation from the regime’s terrorist army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
So it’s possible that Blinken’s stark warning was intended to frighten people so much that opposition to the U.S. concessions to Iran to seal the deal just melted away.
Although both American and Israeli sources have been briefing that a deal is now exceedingly unlikely, it would be unwise to conclude it won’t happen. For the Biden administration’s determination to seal it has been astounding.
Blinken and his foreign-policy team ignore the fact that it would funnel billions of dollars into a terrorist regime that has launched countless attacks against American and Western interests, and regularly declares its intention to wipe Israel off the map.
They seem oblivious to the fact that the intercontinental ballistic missiles they would be facilitating through this agreement would point not at Israel, but at America and Europe.
They brush aside the fact that Iran recently plotted to murder the former National Security Advisor John Bolton and the former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. At the Senate committee hearing, Blinken merely acknowledged “an ongoing threat against American officials both present and past” while reiterating his commitment to sign an agreement with its perpetrators.
Blinken and his team ignore the way the regime lies through its teeth. Its repeated claim that it had no intention of using its nuclear program to build nuclear weapons was recently demolished by a former Iranian politician, Ali Motahhari.
“When we began our nuclear activity our goal was indeed to build a bomb,” Motahhari told an Iranian radio outlet. The idea of building a bomb as a form of regional “intimidation,” he said, was known to all officials in Tehran.
So the question is why the Biden administration is so fixated upon doing this deal. And the answer to that also answers the question of why it chose to announce that Iran was about to get the bomb.
It was former President Barack Obama—several of whose retreads are now Biden administration officials—whose determination to bring Iran in from the cold led to the 2015 deal. Obama reportedly wanted to “even up” the rival Shia and Sunni Islamic camps in the region, and thus create a balance of power.
In addition to this deeply questionable realpolitik, certain members of the Biden administration are also motivated by malice against Israel.
But the main reason for this fixation, embodied in Blinken’s own mindset, is surely the dominant Western liberal dogma that war never solves anything, and that the appropriate response to aggression is always negotiation and compromise.
As Blinken’s team has reportedly said, a nuclear Iran is preferable to military confrontation.
That staggering statement tells us everything we need to know about the Biden administration and the danger it poses to the Western world. For it means that it will refuse to stop a fanatical and genocidal aggressor if going to war is the only way to do so.
As a result, it lies to itself and to everyone else to minimize the extreme danger posed by that aggressor. When reminded about Iran’s intended extermination of Israel, the same officials replied: “The world would never let that happen.” Well, try telling that to Ukraine.
And as a result of promoting this fantasy, the Biden administration tells a demonstrable untruth about its proposed deal with Iran. As Blinken told the Senate committee: “We continue to believe that getting back into compliance with the agreement would be the best way to address the nuclear challenge posed by Iran and to make sure that an Iran that is already acting with incredible aggression doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.”
But the reported terms of the deal actually guarantee that, after a relatively brief delay, Iran will legitimately get nuclear weapons—just as the 2015 deal guaranteed a legitimate Iranian nuclear arsenal after a somewhat longer delay.
The Biden administration cannot fail to have grasped this undeniable fact. It follows that, with or without a deal, it believes that Iran will get the bomb—because the United States won’t stop it.
The Biden team, therefore, wants the deal as a fig leaf to camouflage its appalling betrayal of the west. But if Iran won’t provide that fig leaf, the Biden administration has to deflect the blame.
That’s why it has said Iran is now on the verge of nuclear breakout—and that this is all the fault of former President Donald Trump for taking America out of the deal in May 2018.
That agreement, it says, helped set back the time it would take for Iran to procure a weapon. So it blames Trump’s withdrawal for Iran’s subsequent acceleration towards break-out capacity.
“Under the Iran nuclear deal, Iran’s nuclear program was tightly constrained and monitored by international inspectors,” said the White House spokesperson Jen Psaki. After the United States pulled out, Iran “rapidly accelerated its nuclear program and reduced cooperation with international inspectors in non-performance of Iran nuclear deal commitments.”
But this is highly tendentious revisionism. It was impossible to monitor what Iran was actually up to even when it was said to be “complying” with the 2015 deal because it never allowed the inspectors onto its most sensitive sites.
As a State Department report observed last week: “Serious concerns remained outstanding regarding possible undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran,” and noted that the Islamic Republic had “not fully cooperated with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) which is trying to investigate possible secret nuclear activity at four sites around the country.”
Moreover, as Andrea Stricker and Anthony Ruggiero write for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies: “The Biden administration has failed at each quarterly IAEA Board of Governors meeting to recommend that the body censure Iran for its restrictions on IAEA monitoring, non-cooperation with a separate IAEA investigation into Tehran’s undeclared nuclear activities, and flagrant nuclear escalations—the majority of which have occurred on the Biden administration’s watch.”
Now the Israelis are talking to the Biden team about a “Plan B” following the likely collapse of a deal. But the awful logic of the team’s approach is that the United States won’t move on from the 2015 agreement but will treat it as a kind of zombie deal—neither dead nor alive.
As Behnam Ben Taleblu of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies told Benny Avni of The New York Sun, the more likely outcome is “a ‘plan C’: not announce that the talks have collapsed, but also not revert to pressure” on Iran.
The big lie about the Obama-Biden courtship of Iran is that this was intended to prevent it from getting the bomb. It wasn’t. It was to conceal what the United States had decided was inevitable—an Iranian nuclear weapon—because it intended to do nothing to stop it.
So does Israel have its own plan? We can only hope.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.