Imagine a deal cut with the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism, Iran, co-brokered by Vladimir Putin’s Russia and the Chinese Communist Party. One that would pave the way for Tehran to develop nuclear weapons and also supercharge its violence across the Middle East.
America would be foolish to take it. But if President Joe Biden doesn’t have a change of heart, he may try to sell just such a deal to the American people.
Before he hands a major victory to the Ayatollah Khameni, Vladimir Putin, and Xi Jinping and presides over another foreign policy disaster, the president should walk away from the negotiating table.
After months of discussions, the Biden administration is on the verge of reaching an agreement with Iran to replace the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed by President Barack Obama in 2015. President Donald Trump pulled America out of that deeply flawed deal in 2018.
Rightly so. Under the JCPOA, Iran paused, but did not end, its nuclear program in exchange for $1.7 billion in cash and another $150 billion in sanctions relief. It was great deal for the regime in Tehran, but a bad one for America.
Its proposed replacement would be worse.
The arrangement, orchestrated by Russian and Chinese intermediaries, would be a financial windfall for Tehran. It would lift Trump-era sanctions and release billions of dollars in assets frozen by the United States and our allies. Iran’s haul could be up to $130.5 billion.
President Biden is also offering to remove the foreign terrorist organization designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Iranian military’s primary instrument of exporting bloodshed and an organization responsible for killing more than 600 American service members in Iraq. A recent missile attack near the American consulate in Erbil, in northern Iraq, was the work of the IRGC.
It gets worse: the administration is also offering to lift sanctions on a slate of Iranian organizations and individuals. Among them is Hossein Dehghan, a politician and IRGC operative who planned the 1983 bombing in Lebanon that killed 220 Marines and 21 other Americans.
And what would America get out of this deal? Iran’s window to develop the uranium necessary for a nuclear weapon will be delayed from five weeks to six months, and America’s ability to stop development in the future would be severely undermined.
An agreement that allows Iran to realize its nuclear ambitions is dangerous enough, but relaxing sanctions and removing the IRGC’s designation as a terror group would pour gasoline on the fires already raging across the Middle East.
It will fund Hezbollah’s destruction of Lebanon and open up an offensive against Israel on its norther border. It will pay for the rockets Hamas fires into Israel’s cities and the riots it foments on Israel’s southern border with Gaza. And it will enhance support for the Houthis’ war in Yemen and attacks on Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Iran-allied militias in Syria and Iraq continue to regularly launch strikes against American troops and personnel in the region. The new deal goes well beyond nuclear weapons and will finance more of these attacks across the region.
The terms, which are already being described as a significant victory by Russia and China, will provide a beachhead for Putin and Xi to contest and even supplant American leadership in the Middle East. Conveniently, the agreement allows Rosatom, an energy company owned by the Russian government, to move forward on a $10 billion contract to build two nuclear reactors in Iran.
It is not the intent of these negotiations that is objectionable. Make no mistake, an atomic Iran is a threat to the security of the entire world.
This deal, though, fails to prevent Tehran’s nuclear breakout while also enhancing its ability to spread terror around the region and self-dealing America a strategic geopolitical defeat. No deal is better than this bad deal.
The president came into office promising a “longer and stronger” deal with Iran, but this is weaker and shorter. And despite earlier promises to the contrary, the administration has failed to adequately consult with Congress during its negotiations, repeating the mistakes of 2015, and failing to follow the law.
If the president wants to truly prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and win bipartisan support, he should leverage, not lift, sanctions and tie any agreement to ending Tehran’s exportation of terrorism and violence around the globe. The President should then submit that agreement to the Congress as a treaty for ratification.
Short of that, this is a dangerous deal America should not make and a future Republican administration must immediately reverse any agreement that falls short.