The Iranian JCPOA Conundrum by Steve Kramer
President Biden’s administration is zealously dissociating itself from Trump’s agenda and accomplishments. One important goal for Biden is to return to the Iran deal, officially the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action). The Democrats are being cheered on by the Europeans, who never left the deal.
Why should Washington give legitimacy to a rogue, terrorist regime that is hated by most of its citizens and which has terrorist cells throughout the world? Iran’s strategy is to possess atomic weapons – or to have access to them very quickly. This would give Iran the upper hand in the Middle East. Ultimately, Iran wants to head a caliphate of Muslim nations, eventually including those lands which Muslims controlled in the past, such as the Iberian peninsula. This would be facilitated by the “land bridge” for weapons shipments that Iran is building across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea. Naturally, Israel and its Arab partners, those most endangered by Iran’s activities, are dead set against Iran’s malevolent activities in the region, which are allowed or ignored in the existing deal.
What do Israel and its new partners know that the Europeans and Democrats don’t? This: that Iran has proven multiple times that it can’t be trusted and never could; that the mullahs run Iran and their jihadist aim is to rule over the West; and that their proxies, especially Hizbollah, can strike almost anywhere in Europe, Africa, and in North, Central, and South America.
From CBS News: At this time, only a few weeks after Joe Biden assumed the presidency, he assured the public in a pre-Super Bowl interview, that, “…the U.S. will not lift sanctions against Iran unless the country stops enriching uranium, [thus] continuing a standoff with [Iran’s] supreme leader, who has demanded that sanctions be lifted before the country returns to its obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal.” (2/7/2021)
But ending the enrichment of uranium past a certain level is just one factor. Salem Alketbi, political analyst in the UAE wrote : “It boils down to recognizing that the agreement as it stands has failed. It should be expanded to include Iran’s missile program and regional involvement. If not, a new, more comprehensive accord must be negotiated that guarantees regional and international security. The focus here is on Washington’s allies’ concerns about the Biden administration’s return to the nuclear deal.” (2/8/2021)
If the Iran deal is just massaged, then Iran will be attain nuclear weapons legally in a decade or so. Surely its Arab neighbors will react, adding to nuclear proliferation throughout the region, a scary proposition. The Democratic Party declared before the presidential election that the US needs to reenter the deal, thereby giving the advantage to the wily Iranian negotiators, whose “bazaar-style” negotiating skills far surpass America’s. Many familiar Obama-era faces are among President Biden’s choices to again represent the US: Wendy Sherman, Robert Malley, Samantha Power, Jake Sullivan and others, with Susan Rice and the great MidEast savant John Kerry hovering nearby. (Kerry 2016: “There will be no separate peace between Israel and the Arab world….’ No. No, no, and no.”)
Concerning the JCPOA, many observers have opined that the Americans were too eager to get the Iranians to stop enriching uranium and ignored other of Iran’s malevolent activities, especially in missile development and terrorism. Europeans were more interested in placating the Iranians (to keep their terror acts out of Europe) and to make money building up Iran. This criticism has been echoed by at least one European leader, France’s president, Emmanuel Macron.
Let’s see why the US left the Iran deal in the first place. Iran’s malign behavior in the region and outside of it was ignored; its supply of weapons and funds to its many proxy armies was ignored; its continued research into attaining nuclear weapons was ignored; its billions of dollars which had been withheld were released to it with no conditions; and to top it off, the deal legitimized Iran’s nuclear efforts to build a bomb without restrictions after a relatively short period of 15 years! (See the PBS report from 2015: https://www.pbs.org/newshour/world/deal-keep-iran-making-nuclear-bomb-10-points)
These omissions should have been enough to prevent any agreement to begin with, but President Obama was determined, at all costs, to make a deal. Knowing that Congress would never pass the JCPOA as a treaty, the Obama administration made it an “agreement.” Thus President Trump was able to quickly withdraw from it.
What was the clincher that convinced President Trump to pull out of the JCPOA? Many say that it was the conclusive evidence of Iran’s lies and continuing nuclear arms development efforts which were gathered by the Mossad in a daring act of espionage and presented to the world by PM Netanyahu (9/9/19). See: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/283429
Israel and its cohort of friendly Arab countries fear a return to the Obama policy which elevated Iran’s position vis a vis the US at the expense of Israel and Sunni states. Soon Biden will face his first test with Iran. On February 21, Iran has declared that if the US doesn’t drop the Trump administration’s economic sanctions against it, Iran will transgress even more of the limitations set by the JCPOA. Will Biden and the Europeans blink first? We will soon find out.