So far, the Islamic Republic’s nuclear negotiators in Vienna still refuse to sit in the same room as their American counterparts, and they seem unlikely to agree to terms even the eager-to-negotiate Biden administration can stomach. But rather than walk away, explains Elliott Abrams, the White House might instead consent to a limited agreement
in which Iran does one thing—such as agreeing to stop enriching uranium to 60 percent—in exchange for billions of dollars in sanctions relief. A recent visit to Vienna by South Korean officials suggests that unfreezing the $7 billion Iran has on the books there will be step one. Step two will likely be lifting all sanctions on Iranian oil exports, allowing the regime to increase sales to China and others in Asia immediately. My own guess: in exchange for Iran’s ceasing to enrich uranium to 60 percent, virtually all U.S. sanctions will be lifted.
This “less for less” deal would be a terrible agreement. It could really be termed “less for more”—Iran does less and gets more. It would ignore Iran’s subversion of the IAEA and its refusal to allow serious inspections. It would ignore Iran’s refusal to deal with the “previous military dimensions” of its nuclear program, which are quite obviously real (the nuclear archive purloined by Israel proved that) and still exist today. It would ignore Iran’s use of advanced generations of centrifuges and would certainly permit enrichment above the 3.67-percent limit agreed in Obama’s 2015 deal. And it would supply the regime with billions—likely tens of billions—of dollars to use, for instance, subverting Iraq, fighting in Yemen, and supporting Hamas, and Hizballah.
The Biden administration could have kept the pressure on until the Iranian regime—aware far more than the White House is of the hatred ordinary Iranians feel for their leaders—faced economic crisis and agreed to a better deal. Instead, Team Biden decided on the Obama administration approach, and is on a path toward an agreement that rewards Iran’s malfeasance and gets it closer and closer to a nuclear weapon.