Citing Iranian noncompliance, in May 2018 the Trump administration withdrew from the nuclear agreement its predecessor had made with Tehran. The Biden administration seeks to negotiate a renewal of the original agreement, and appears willing to make serious further concessions in order to succeed. But the ayatollahs—having been burned once before—are asking for “inherent guarantees” that the deal will remain in place regardless of who wins the 2024 presidential elections. However, since negotiations won’t result in a formal treaty sent to the Senate for ratification, no such commitment is possible. Gabriel Noronha explains:
Because the U.S. negotiators are unable to provide such a guarantee, the Iranians are said to be seeking some form of economic compensation to be held in trust by a third party that would be paid to Iran in the event that U.S. sanctions are reimposed. In other words, the United States would pay into a giant trust fund to protect the regime from future sanctions presumably triggered by Iran’s own malignant behavior. One U.S. government official close to the negotiations told me they doubted the demand would ever be accepted or could even be fashioned in the first place in any way that wouldn’t cause even more Democrats to jump ship and oppose the deal.
As Noronha points out, the fact that the agreement now under discussion would provide Russia with a $10 billion line-of-credit, it’s likely that several Democrats will join Republican in opposing it. If so, they can torpedo the deal even before it goes into effect:
The pending deal is an extremely fragile patchwork containing several concessions from the United States unrelated to Iran’s nuclear program, which are meant to appease various gripes related to the Trump administration’s [economic] pressure campaign. While risk-compliance firms are already advising international businesses that Republicans have pledged to reimpose sanctions on Iran in 2025 if they retake the White House, companies and individuals should also know that members of Congress will force the issue even sooner by attaching amendments to must-pass legislation required to fund the government and reauthorize Department of Defense spending.
The Iranians should understand that while Biden may pledge to provide sanctions relief for the regime’s terror apparatus, the U.S. Congress is unlikely to let that relief stand. Going by current midterm polling, such concessions are likely to last no longer than next year before Congress forces Biden to renege on his commitments and reimpose sanctions.