The Iranian regime recently announced that it will be activating more centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site. Abbas Araqchi, Iran's chief negotiator, said that Iran would activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines. Pictured: The Natanz nuclear enrichment facility in Iran. (Photo by Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)
Amid talks -- between the Iranian regime and France, the United Kingdom, China, Russia, plus Germany as well as indirect talks between the US and Iran -- the ruling mullahs of Iran continue to ratchet up their threats and nuclear defiance.
Last week, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, announced that Iran would be enriching uranium to 60 percent -- a level of enrichment that has no civilian purpose. Now the Iranian regime has begun enriching uranium to its highest level ever, 60 percent, close to weapons-grade level.
Iranian leaders also began boasting about this development. Mohammad Bagher Qalibaf, the speaker of the Iranian parliament wrote:
"The young and God-believing Iranian scientists managed to achieve a 60% enriched uranium product... I congratulate the brave nation of Islamic Iran on this success. The Iranian nation's willpower is miraculous and can defuse any conspiracy."
The Iranian regime also announced that it will be activating more centrifuges at the Natanz nuclear site. Abbas Araqchi, Iran's chief negotiator at the talks, said that Iran would activate 1,000 advanced centrifuge machines.
Now, instead of halting talks amid Iran's defiance, the Biden administration appears happy that Iran is engaged in discussions. President Joe Biden told reporters in Washington during a joint news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga:
"We are, though, nonetheless pleased that Iran has continued to agree to engage in discussions -- indirect discussions -- with us and with our partners on how we move forward and what is needed to allow us to move back into the [nuclear deal]...".
The Biden administration seems more determined than ever, however, to "reward" Iran's dangerous and predatory regime by returning to a deal that has sunset clauses, as well as an expiration date after which the mullahs can enrich uranium, spin centrifuges at any level they desire, and make as many nuclear weapons as they like.
A return to the 2025 deal would help to lift all major sanctions against Iran -- sanctions it took years to put in place. The deal would enable Iran's military sites to be exempt from inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. The deal would allow Iran to rejoin the global financial system with full legitimacy, so that billions of dollars could begin flowing into the treasury of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and its expanding militias across the Middle East.
"[G]iven Iran's failure to enact the Palermo and Terrorist Financing Conventions in line with the FATF Standards, the FATF fully lifts the suspension of counter-measures and calls on its members and urges all jurisdictions to apply effective counter-measures..."
Ever since President Biden declared that he wanted to resurrect the nuclear deal -- which, incidentally, Iran never signed -- the Iranian regime has been ratcheting up its threats and nuclear defiance in order to get more "rewards" -- evidently for non-compliance -- from the Biden administration.
First, Iran began increasing uranium enrichment to 20% in January 2021. Then on January 4, in a move that apparently alarmed the US State Department, Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) seized a South Korean-flagged ship carrying thousands of tons of ethanol in the Persian Gulf, according to Fars News. A US State Department spokesperson noted at the time:
"The (Iranian) regime continues to threaten navigational rights and freedoms in the Persian Gulf as part of a clear attempt to extort the international community into relieving the pressure of sanctions. We join the Republic of Korea's call for Iran to immediately release the tanker."
Later, on January 9, the Iranian parliament passed a law requiring the government to expel the International Atomic Energy Agency's nuclear inspectors.
This week, according to the US Navy, "Revolutionary Guard fast-boats swarmed U.S. Coast Guard vessels in [the] Persian Gulf."
Last September, Iran's Foreign Minister Javad Zarif told a forum organized by New York's Council on Foreign Relations that Iran wants more money. "A sign of good faith is not to try to renegotiate what has already been negotiated," he said, adding in the same speech that the US must "compensate us for our losses." Iran's top judicial body had already demanded that the US pay $130 billion in "damages." And now the regime is enriching uranium at its highest level ever.
The Biden administration has reportedly agreed in principle to the Iranian regime's demand for compensation over the "economic damage".
Unnamed Israeli diplomats unofficially expressed disappointment over the nuclear negotiations and characterized the talks as "complete American capitulation" to Iran's leaders. Israeli leaders are apparently seriously concerned that the Biden administration wants to revive the Iran nuclear deal "at all costs".
Finally, amid the talks to revive the "nuclear deal," Iran's leaders signed a 25-year strategic deal with China. In addition, the Iranian authorities are also engaged in high-level talks with Russia, "in order to help establish stability and combat American interventions."
The Biden administration's silence in the wake of Iran's increasing threats and nuclear defiance will only embolden and empower this predatory regime. The Iranian regime clearly believes it can get away with its violations. Instead of "rewarding" this dangerous Islamist regime, the Biden administration needs to take a firm stance and hold the ruling mullahs accountable.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu