Iran Is Stalling as It Awaits Further Nuclear Concessions from the West

On April 3, the Iranian foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said a nuclear deal was “close,” and that “the ball is in the U.S. court.” Since then, little progress has been made. Carine Hajjar notes that, despite the growing bipartisan opposition to the deal and the billions in sanction relief that have already been granted to it, the Islamic Republic seems to be waiting for its other conditions to be met.

Iranian demands are the final barrier [to a deal]. Tehran wants the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), one of the world’s most prolific supporters of terrorism, to be delisted as a foreign terrorist organization. It’s underscoring that demand with a request for a guarantee that the deal will remain in place after the Biden administration.

Fully knowing that the Biden administration cannot enact a permanent treaty, this is Iran’s bid to get some extra goodies in the final days of consideration. As of now, any deal passed by the Biden administration would be an international agreement, not a Senate-approved treaty, meaning it could be repealed by a future administration.

To excuse its concessions, the Biden administration has engaged in some damage-control optics. But that’s all they are: optics. For instance, it sanctioned an individual and a handful of companies associated with the IRGC’s ballistics program after the recent strike [on a U.S. consulate in the Iraqi city of] Erbil. But without continual and comprehensive pressure, these narrow sanctions will be one step forward, and four steps back.

The administration is also arguing that even if the IRGC is removed from the foreign-terrorist-organization list, “The IRGC will remain sanctioned under U.S. law and our perception of the IRGC will remain,” according to Robert Malley, the State Department’s special envoy for Iran. To legitimize this move, it has opted for a pinky-promise, asking Iran for a public written guarantee of good behavior. Iran won’t even do that.

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Read more at National Review

More about: Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy