The Failure of Biden’s Iran Policy

biden iran
(Photo by Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images)

October 5, 2022

International high-level talks to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Obama’s 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, are dead in the water. Critics have since called out the many failures of Biden’s Iran policy, as the incumbent president has struggled to establish clear direction on the new agreement, or any concrete alternatives in the event the deal fails. 

The JCPOA agreement would provide sanctions relief in exchange for Iran’s commitment to stalling their nuclear developments. Sanctions relief included relaxed restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program. 

An “Alarming” Offer    

However, 19FortyFive wrote that former U.S. Central Command Gen. Kenneth Mackenzie “characterized” the Iran ballistics missile program as “one of the largest in the Middle East.” The Iranian regime likewise reportedly violated the terms of missile sanctions many times since the deal went into effect, launching at least 27 ballistic missiles between 2015-2018, the years the U.S. participated in the deal. 

The Foundation for Defense of Democracies called out this pledge of missile sanctions relief in 2021. Their research warned Congress that the deal’s offering of missile sanction relief without intensive Iranian missile program review was “alarming.” 

The terms set by the JCPOA are set to expire in 2023.  Under the pretenses of the fragile deal, the Iranian regime has reportedly built up a massive arsenal. 

(READ MORE: Iran Nuclear Deal Is Stalled; Russia Takes Advantage)

Mixed Messages 

As media reports signaled the rapidly-closing unsuccessful end of the nuclear talks, Washington “tightened the screws”of restriction on the Iranian regime by sanctioning Iran oil companies, according to Iran International.

State Department Spokesman Ned Price observed the “brutal repression” of the Iranian regime against protestors, calling out the brutal execution by morality police of Mahsa Amini, an event that inspired protests as far aways as Downton Los Angeles. Price claimed that sanctions would be “an important measure of accountability” for the human rights violations in Iran. 

Amid the Mahsa Amini inspired protests, the Biden administration continued to show a lack of concrete policy. As Price adopted a hardline “accountability” stance against the regime’s brutality, the administration still seeks to promote a deal that will provide wide sanction relief. 

Sanction relief will reportedly be extensive, but the extent of this relief is not yet public. A lack of transparency over the deal’s terms has therefore created friction in Congress. 

Opaque Processing 

Former State Department advisory officials contributing to The Hill wrote that the Biden administration may be attempting to keep Congress out of the deal’s final text. In May, the State Department’s special Iran representative Robert Malley pledged to submit the prospective nuclear agreement to Congress for review. A bipartisan letter from Congressmembers was sent to Biden demanding transparency on the terms. 

Yet, The Hill writers argue that the Biden administration may be trying to avoid this review by claiming they are merely returning to the previously Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). Congress passed the act in 2015 when it became clear that the Obama administration would try to push the 2015 deal through without submitting it to Congress as a treaty, and thus circumvent Congress. 

But the new deal is not going to be similar to the one negotiated by Obama, as the current deal will demand more U.S. concessions, including giving Iran $1 trillion in sanction relief by 2030. 

Under the INARA, Biden would be compelled to submit the terms of the new JCPOA, which has reportedly undergone extensive amendments

The Hill contributors wrote that, should Biden enter a new JCPOA deal without proper Congressional review, Congress can file a lawsuit against the president. The contributors noted that evading the law on the due nuclear agreement voting process could result in “vote nullification” on the deal’s terms. 

In addition, The Hill contributors made note of how Iranian regime leaders look at Congress’ sentiments when weighing the odds of rejoining the JCPOA pact. The lack of transparency  amounts to failed negotiations and setting the foundation for the next U.S. presidential administration to take a stronger approach to Iran.

Biden’s Iran Policy Failure 

Biden’s version of the deal, and his alleged attempts to evade Congressional review thereof, fail to lead a transparent American-Iran policy. His policy defeats its own purpose by sending mixed signals to the Iranian regime leadership on a clear direction of the terms. The Biden administration continued to send mixed messages, both at home and internationally, with public messaging that at one moment calls for stiff accountability, and at the next moment pushes forward a policy of sanction relief that may not have passed through the correct legal vetting process. 

A significant problem with Biden’s plan to reenter a nuclear deal with Iran is that he has no plan, besides trying to walk back former-President Trump’s withdrawal, according to a report from 19FortyFive. Biden may want to reenter the agreement negotiated by Obama in 2015, but that is highly unlikely, given the increasing hostility that the West is facing from Iran.

The president either fails to understand this is allegedly being driven by spite of the former president, which the author suggests could be why the Biden administration is failing to look into the many valid reasons that Trump withdrew the U.S. from the agreement to begin with, such as “secret documents on Iran’s nuclear program stolen by Israel in 2018 that proved substantial cheating by Iran on the agreement.” 

The administration is also overlooking or plainly ignoring the Maximum Pressure policy enacted by Trump, which imposed 1,600 sanctions on the hostile regime that were far more effective in keeping nuclear armament at bay than the JCPOA, the author argues. Iran has also refused to let the International Atomic Energy Agency investigate its possible secret nuclear sites. Despite the dishonesty and lack of transparency, the administration has not let that hinder negotiations. 

Biden has clearly made it a priority to renegotiate a nuclear deal, but has failed to be transparent about progress toward achieving that end. He is sending mixed signals and attempting to bypass Congressional review of his plans, putting him in the midst of a legal lawsuit with Congress. 

Jacob Yusufov contributed to this report.

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