The President-Elect Must Not Give in to Iran’s Nuclear Blackmail

January 11, 2021 | Richard Goldberg and Mark Dubowitz
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Last week, Tehran both affirmed that it had increased its enrichment of uranium and seized a South Korean oil tanker. “This escalation,” write Richard Goldberg and Mark Dubowitz, “may be designed to put additional pressure on President-elect Joe Biden to rejoin the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.” As the mullahs surely know, the incoming president has made clear that he plans to rejoin the deal after taking office, yet he has also stressed that in doing so he wishes to strengthen it and correct some of its flaws. Goldberg and Dubowitz observe:

[T]he president-elect maintains that the only way to negotiate a new framework is by first returning to the old one. There’s one big problem with that logic. Since rejoining the original nuclear deal requires Washington to lift its most punishing sanctions, the economic leverage against Tehran that Biden inherits from his predecessor will evaporate the moment sanctions are relaxed.

The Iran deal’s supporters avoid debating the many fallacies inherent in returning to the agreement. Instead, they point to Iran’s recent expansion of uranium-enrichment activities and declare the Donald Trump administration’s maximum-pressure strategy a failure. For them, the only way to contain Iran’s nuclear program is to pay the mullahs to stop enriching—even if it means funding [Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps], rejoining an expiring deal, turning a blind eye to clandestine nuclear activity, missile testing, and human-rights abuses, and leaving Iran’s enrichment capabilities intact so that the regime can shake down the international community for more money in the future.

What the deal’s supporters ignore, however, is that maximum pressure is only a year or so old—and that it took Obama four years [of sanctions] to get Iran to the negotiating table and another two years to get the nuclear deal.

It makes perfect sense that the president-elect wants to work with U.S. allies to confront the myriad national-security challenges posed by Iran. But turning a blind eye to the clerical regime’s nuclear deception, racing back into a deal that’s already expiring, undermining U.S. negotiating leverage, and subsidizing Iranian-sponsored imperialism and terrorism—that doesn’t make much sense at all.

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