The Likely Return of the Disastrous Nuclear Deal with Iran
Will a desperate Biden make even more concessions?
President Joe Biden is on the verge of making another colossal foreign policy blunder. He wants to restore the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) that the Obama-Biden administration had concluded in 2015, along with Britain, France, Germany, Russia, and China. Some of the same Obama-Biden administration players involved in the original negotiations, who strongly denounced former President Donald Trump’s wise decision to withdraw from their fatally flawed handiwork, are determined to bring it back to life.
President Biden appears ready to make major concessions to Iran. For example, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, “Iran’s 'breakout time'—the duration needed to amass enough nuclear fuel [f]or a bomb—could be as little as six months,” under a restored deal as opposed to the JCPOA’s original twelve-month breakout time. As of mid-February, Iran had already amassed 33.2 kilograms of uranium material enriched to the 60 percent level, nearly double the amount it had in early November of last year.
“Iran would need around 40 kilograms of 60% enriched uranium to produce enough weapons-grade nuclear fuel for a weapon,” the Wall Street Journal reported. This means that Iran already has about three-quarters of what it would require to advance quickly to weapon-grade 90% fuel for a nuclear bomb.
Iran has put itself in the driver’s seat by plowing ahead to reach an incredibly short breakout time, enabling the regime to extort more concessions from the Biden administration. The war in Ukraine, which is destabilizing the global energy market, also provides the Iranian regime with a stronger bargaining position to achieve the maximum lifting of sanctions and unfreezing of Iran’s assets. The regime is counting on the West’s need for Iranian oil to make up for shortfalls from other oil producing countries.
President Biden finally announced the cut-off of U.S. oil and gas imports from Russia on March 8th. But instead of reversing his war on fossil fuels policies that have stymied more drilling and production of oil in the energy-rich United States, the Biden administration already has its hand out to Venezuela and Saudi Arabia for their oil to make up for the resulting shortfall. And the Biden administration has its eyes on Iran.
Out of sheer desperation, the Biden administration appears ready to turn to Iran to add its own oil to the global oil supply. This means agreeing to a nuclear deal on Iran’s terms. It is a quick fix to show the American people that the Biden administration is taking action to reduce the price of gasoline that they are paying at the pump. Anything to avoid offending the climate change activists at home, which would happen if the administration were to do the sensible thing and remove barriers it has imposed against more domestic production of oil and gas.
While trying to isolate Russia economically and diplomatically for its invasion of Ukraine, the Biden administration is negotiating alongside Russia (and China) to restore the JCPOA. Even worse, since Iran has refused to negotiate face-to-face with U.S. representatives, the Biden administration has outsourced the principal intermediary role to Russia.
“Russia has been instrumental in shaping a compromise,” Reuters has reported, based on information from diplomats.
If there is a deal, Iran will most likely ship its excess uranium over the agreed upon cap to none other than Russia as it did the last time around. Only this time, Iran would be doing so in concert with a country that has just brought the world perilously close to a nuclear catastrophe.
When Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi met with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on January 19th, Putin noted that the two regimes “closely cooperate in the international arena.”
Raisi agreed. “We…have no restrictions on developing and expanding ties with friendly Russia and these ties will become strategic,” Raisi said.
It did not take long for the Iranian regime to prove how strongly it continues to stand by Russia after Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine.
A February 25th editorial in Keyhan, which serves as a mouthpiece for Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, stated, as quoted by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:
“Moscow had no other choice but to ensure the security of the people of Ukraine and prevent it being swallowed up by a dangerous (NATO) military bloc, and to send its troops across the border. With his blitzkrieg, President Putin delivered, in a brilliant diplomatic move, the message to the President of Ukraine, Zelensky, a Jewish comedian.”
Khamenei said that the “mafia regime” of the U.S. has created multiple crises around the globe, including in Ukraine. He took the words right out of Putin’s mouth.
Despite the close international cooperation between the Iranian and Russian regimes, the Biden administration does not seem too worried about the consequences of Russia’s leadership role in negotiating and implementing a restored JCPOA with the Iranian regime. A senior U.S. State Department official claimed that Russia and the United States share a common interest in reviving the JCPOA and preventing Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. The Biden administration believes that it can separate this common interest from the Ukrainian crisis where Russia and the West are at loggerheads.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who has parroted Putin’s outrageous claim that Russia is denazifying Ukraine, linked the sanctions imposed on Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine with the JCPOA negotiations.
“We requested that our US colleagues… give us written guarantees at the minimum level of Secretary of State that the current [sanctions] process launched by the US will not in any way harm our right to free, fully-fledged trade and economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with Iran,” Lavrov said on Saturday.
Russia is asking the United States to guarantee that the Ukraine-related sanctions will not get in the way of its “military-technical” cooperation with Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism that is developing long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The White House has been mum on exactly what concessions it is willing to offer to bring the JCPOA back to life. However, the Biden administration has already signaled it was prepared to lift sanctions across Iran’s economy, including its banking and energy sectors, and to unfreeze billions of dollars’ worth of oil revenues.
Iranian leaders have demanded complete sanctions relief, including a huge portion upfront.
"Our negotiators... do their best to ensure the nation's interests, and know that the final point is the lifting of all sanctions, especially on banking and trade," Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami said at Friday prayers in Tehran. "If these sanctions are not lifted, it is as if there were no talks."
What token gestures might Iran make in return at the outset of the revived deal? The regime may agree to permit the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, to resume implementing a limited set of on-site inspection and verification mechanisms that will not include inspections of Iran’s military facilities.
The regime may also agree to suspend right away its enrichment of uranium to the 60% level. It may “commit” to reduce its enrichment level further after all sanctions are lifted and Iran’s economy is back on track.
As noted previously, Iran would most likely ship any excess uranium above a negotiated volume limit to its Russian friends. With Iran in Russia’s corner supporting Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, does anybody seriously think that Russia will not help Iran cheat during this process and keep Iran’s stockpile in reserve to return to Iran upon its request? The Biden administration is so desperate for a deal that it may well look the other way and rely on the word of the butcher of Moscow who is massacring the Ukrainian people in the name of “liberating” them.
The original JCPOA enrichment cap of 3.67% will probably not survive the current negotiations. Even when sanctions are lifted, and the JCPOA snaps back to life, Iran’s nuclear chief said that the regime intends to exceed the original 3.67% cap.
"(Uranium) enrichment ... continues with a maximum ceiling of 60%, which led Westerners to rush to negotiations, and it will continue with the lifting of sanctions by both 20% and 5%," the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Mohammad Eslami, said according to the semi-official news agency Fars.
The sanctions relief concessions that the Biden administration ends up agreeing to may well extend beyond just the sanctions imposed on Iran relating to its nuclear activities. “Iran is demanding complete sanctions removal, including the elimination of human-rights or ballistic-missile-related sanctions that were exempted from the 2015 deal,” the Wall Street Journal has reported.
Iran is also demanding the lifting of sanctions directed at Iranian entities involved in the financing of terrorism. In fact, the Iranian regime is insisting on the removal of the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its affiliates, which have American blood on their hands, from the sanctions list.
And let us not forget about the JCPOA’s “sunset” provisions. Unless there is a change to these provisions to push the “sunsets” further out in time, major restrictions on Iran’s nuclear-related activities will soon go away, starting in 2025. This means that the Iranian regime will have a clear path to develop and produce nuclear weapons suitable for mounting on its ballistic missiles.
If an agreement is reached with Iran to restore the nuclear deal, there is no reason to expect the Biden administration to level with the American people about the concessions it had to make to close the deal. President Biden and his senior administration officials have a habit of making false statements to spin their disastrous policies.
For example, during his announcement that the United States would no longer be importing any oil and gas from Russia, President Biden tried to give the impression that nothing was stopping the U.S. oil and gas companies from producing more fossil fuels except their own business decisions. He conveniently ignored all of the roadblocks and disincentives that his administration’s obsession with pushing the Green New Deal agenda have put in the way of more domestic drilling and production.
Biden also claimed that U.S. oil production is now at an all-time high. This is totally false. The real annual all-time high was set in 2019 on former President Trump’s watch - 12.3 million barrels a day. By comparison, U.S. oil production averaged 11.19 million barrels a day in 2021.
President Biden is willing to spread misinformation to the American people even on something that can be easily fact-checked. Why should anyone believe what he and his senior officials say to justify a revised JCPOA negotiated in desperation with the Iranian regime?
The original nuclear deal with the Iranian regime was bad enough. The revived version is likely to be far worse, further cementing the close cooperation between two of the most repugnant regimes on the face of the earth that are enemies of the free world.