The Iranians were very excited indeed when Joe Biden was declared the winner of the 2020 election. The nation’s leaders seized on the opportunity to hail Biden as a potential savior of the Obama-era Iranian nuclear deal that former President Trump had scrapped in 2017.
It is “an opportunity for the next US government to make up for past mistakes and return to the path of adhering to international commitments with respect to global rules,” President Hassan Rouhani proclaimed of the Biden victory. The Iranian regime also trumpeted that the U.S.’s “imposed economic war” had failed and its “maximum pressure” campaign had been defeated with the election of Biden.
Now comes word from new Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the Iranian regime is only “weeks away” from nuclear-weapons-grade material if the U.S. continues to lift restraints. Al-Jazeera reported:
The Biden administration will return to the Iran nuclear deal provided Tehran return to compliance and then negotiate a “longer and stronger” accord, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in an interview with NBC News.
During the interview, taped on Sunday, Blinken said Iran was months away from developing enough nuclear material to create a bomb, in “a matter of weeks”, if Iran continues to lift restraints put in place by the 2015 deal.
This would be a “longer and stronger” version of the Obama-era Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which has been touted numerous times by then Vice President Biden. Current President Biden says that he is willing to rejoin the framework.
“Iran is out of compliance on a number of fronts and it would take some time, should it make the decision to do so, for it to come back into compliance in time for us then to assess whether it was meeting its obligations. So we’re not there yet, to say the least,” Blinken also told reporters.
After Biden’s election, Iran decided to mount pressure on the United States by announcing that it was going to ratchet up its enrichment of uranium. NBC reported on January 5th:
Iran’s decision to dramatically increase uranium enrichment is designed to strengthen its hand in future negotiations with President-elect Joe Biden’s administration, say experts, European diplomats and former U.S. officials. […]
By enriching uranium to 20 percent, Iran will stand only one technical step away from producing weapons-grade material needed for an atomic bomb. [Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the nonprofit Arms Control Association]… called it “a significant escalation” and said “20 percent is about 90 percent of the work required to get to weapons grade.”
There are other signals of Biden administration weakness that the Iranians are pouncing on.
Biden’s choice for Special Envoy to Iran, Rob Malley, was a key architect of the JCPOA and a former Mideast adviser to Obama. Malley has lodged extremely pointed criticism at the Trump administration, as noted by Newsmax’s Bryan Leib:
Malley spoke out against the Trump administration’s bold and courageous decision to assassinate the Iran Guard Corps (IRGC) General Qasem Soleimani.
Malley had this to say: “From Iran’s perspective, it is hard to imagine a more deliberately provocative act.”
He went even further in his accusations:
Malley elaborated, “And it is hard to imagine that Iran will not retaliate in a highly aggressive manner.”
“Whether President Trump intended it or not, it is, for all practical purposes, a declaration of war.”
This is how the foreign policy establishment, the whiz kids from the Obama years, characterize aggressive action against an international bad actor who has U.S. blood on his hands. It should not be lost on American citizens that this is the same cabal that has enabled and emboldened Iran through blatant acts of appeasement.
“The Obama administration is acknowledging its transfer of $1.7 billion to Iran earlier this year was made entirely in cash, using non-U.S. currency,” the New York Post reported in 2016. The details of part of these payments are quite striking.
“The Obama administration quietly shipped $400 million stacked on wooden pallets in an unmarked plane to Iran in January — just as Tehran was releasing four Americans who had been detained there, according to a report,” the Post also reported. Yet that is only one of the more memorable reports about how the Obama administration empowered Iran. It reportedly helped the nation skirt sanctions.
“The Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access — albeit briefly — to the US financial system by sidestepping sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public it had no plans to do so,” the Post exposed.
“An investigation by Senate Republicans… sheds light on the delicate balance the Obama administration sought to strike after the deal,” the report continued, “as it worked to ensure Iran received its promised benefits without playing into the hands of the deal’s opponents.”
The Hill quotes foreign policy analyst Mark Dubowitz, who is chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He called the Biden foreign policy towards Iran a “work in progress” and went further:
“[Biden’s] commitment to go back to the JCPOA is creating extreme anxiety from U.S. allies in Iranian missile range and Americans on both sides of the aisle who worry that there will be no JCPOA 2.0 when the administration gives up most of its leverage by lifting the most powerful sanctions.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has also called it a “mistake” to go back to the Iran nuclear deal.
The Iranians were clearly emboldened by perceived weakness from the incoming Biden administration when it decided to escalate its nuclear-enrichment program, following years of strength shown under the prior Trump administration.
OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.