Biden Falls Into the Iran Hawks' Trap
The real choice before Biden is whether he wants to have a diplomatic success or if he wants to preside over the death of the biggest Democratic foreign policy achievement of the last twenty years.
Last week, I wrote about Biden’s last chance on the nuclear deal:
Iran understandably wants this designation lifted for face-saving reasons, but the Biden administration is reportedly not going to budge on what everyone acknowledges to be a mostly symbolic decision. Letting the nuclear deal die over this designation would be a major failure and further proof that the Biden administration won’t take the political risks needed to secure a solid diplomatic agreement.
AFP reports today that the Biden administration still seems set on squandering this last chance:
The Iranians argue that it was only added to the list by Trump to increase pressure on them after the US exit from the 2015 agreement, also known by its acronym, the JCPOA.
But the Americans have shot back that the subject is in no way related to the nuclear issue.
"If Iran wants sanctions lifting that goes beyond the JCPOA, they'll need to address concerns of ours that go beyond the JCPOA," State Department spokesman Ned Price said this week.
On this question, the Iranians are correct and the administration is being willfully obtuse. It is common knowledge that the Trump administration imposed “non-nuclear” sanctions to complicate U.S. reentry into the nuclear deal, and the reason that it is common knowledge is that hawkish sanctions advocates broadcast their intentions to the world for years. While these sanctions are technically unrelated to the nuclear program, their political purpose has always been to kill the nuclear deal. It isn’t credible to pretend that adding the IRGC to the list of terrorist organizations is “in no way related” to the agreement when the U.S. designated it with the destruction of the deal in mind. The Biden administration is using the letter of the JCPOA to help the JCPOA’s foes kill it.