The U.S. Must Avoid Falling into the Ayatollah’s Nuclear Trap

June 16, 2023 | Bobby Ghosh
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Yesterday, the New York Times confirmed reports that have been circulating in the Israeli press for over a week that the Biden administration is close to making a deal with Iran, in which the latter would receive billions of dollars and get to keep its nuclear program in exchange for the freeing of three hostages and a promise to halt further nuclear enrichment. Indeed, it seems that some of the funds in question have already been released. The ostensible goal of such an arrangement is to make room for the renegotiation of the abandoned 2015 nuclear agreement. Bobby Ghosh, writing on Tuesday, comments:

The U.S. shouldn’t fall for the trap. Rather, President Joe Biden’s administration should step up implementation of existing economic sanctions, and rally European allies to impose even tighter restraints on the regime in Tehran.

Although Biden and his officials have repeatedly claimed that they are resolved to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, they have done little to stop the Islamic Republic from reaching the nuclear threshold, from where it is only days from acquiring enough fissile material for a bomb. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei now says the West, even if it wanted to, couldn’t stop Iran from developing one.

The supreme leader knows a return to the [2015 agreement] would require him to give up most of those gains, as well as the ability to threaten Israel and dictate terms to the Arab states in the region. That is why he is, in effect, proposing a new deal.

Khamenei’s chutzpah at offering such terms comes from his reading that his enemies are vulnerable. Like all autocrats, he interprets accommodation as weakness, and he has seen that Biden offers little more than admonishment while Iran ramps up oil exports and Arab states like Saudi Arabia look to make peace with Tehran.

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