Since the nuclear talks began in Vienna between the Iranian regime and P5+1, the Biden administration has avoided being transparent about what is going on with the negotiations and what exactly is being offered to the Iranian regime. Pictured: Kazem Gharib Abadi, Iran's ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, leaves the Grand Hotel in Vienna, Austria on May 7, 2021, the day the nuclear talks resumed. (Photo by Thomas Kronsteiner/Getty Images)
Since the nuclear talks began in Vienna between the Iranian regime and P5+1, the Biden administration has avoided being transparent about what is going on with the negotiations and what exactly is being offered to the Iranian regime -- the one that the US Department of Justice has called the "the world's worst state sponsor of terrorism.
Ironically, it has been easier to get information about the talks from the Russian and Iranian leaders than from the Biden administration. While Iran and Russia, for example, have been saying for weeks that they are progressing towards a deal, the Biden administration, at home and in front of the allies such as Israel, has continued to downplay the possibility of a deal with Iran. Is the effective US news blackout about the negotiations with Iran meant to keep the allies and American public in the dark to prevent an outrage that may scuttle the administration's effort to revive the 2015 nuclear deal -- which Iran by the way never signed? Or is it meant to keep the public and the Congress's guard down to later surprise them with a deal? If the Biden administration, like the Obama administration, suddenly surprises everyone that a deal has been reached, will it then be too late for the public to act? Is a return to the nuclear deal the price Biden agreed to for Obama's support before the November 3, 2020 election?
After the Europeans admitted around May 1 that a deal is close to being finalized, the Biden administration finally had no option other than to reveal the truth on May 8 and acknowledge that a deal is in fact on the way.
The Biden administration has also declined to disclose exactly which sanctions it intends to remove against the Tehran regime. Perhaps the Iranian leaders can tell us? Iranian President Hassan Rouhani surprisingly revealed that "We've reached a point where the Americans and the Europeans are saying openly they have no choice but to lift sanctions and return to the [nuclear deal], and that almost all main sanctions have been lifted and talks continue on some details."
When the Iranian president is saying that the Biden administration is going to lift "main sanctions", they will most likely include sanctions on Iran's banking and financial systems, sanctions on some Iranian leaders and organizations that were blacklisted under the Trump administration, sanctions on Iran's exports including oil and metals, sanctions on Iran's shipping sector, sanctions on trading and doing business with the Iranian regime, sanctions on Iran's commercial airlines which have been engaged in smuggling weapons, sanctions which were linked to Iran's terrorist activities, and sanctions on Iran's human right violations.
President Biden also previously said that he would lift sanctions on Iran to get new nuclear deal, and that he will work with allies to reach a good deal. But it appears now that he is planning to lift sanctions to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Furthermore, it appears that allies such as Israel or other regional powers have not been included in the negotiations.
In spite of President Biden's having previously pointed out that he wants a longer and stronger deal with Iran compared to the 2015 one, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the potential new deal will likely be the same. Reaching a deal within such a short time frame suggests that no new issues have been incorporated into the negotiations. In addition, the Iranian authorities have been clear that they will not accept a different deal, which might include curbs on its ballistic missile program or address its aggressive foreign policy in the Middle East.
The potential new deal between Iran and the six world powers would most likely include the previous sunset clauses, which set a firm expiration date for restricting Iran's nuclear program, after which the country's leaders would be free to spin centrifuges and enrich uranium at any level they desired. The potential new deal would most likely make Iran's military sites exempt from inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Resurrecting the 2015 nuclear deal would also assist the Iranian regime in rejoining the global financial system and gaining more legitimacy – as well as billions of dollars flowing into the treasury of the regime and its militia groups.
The American public has the right to know what sanctions the Biden administration are planning to lift because this regime has been killing Americans and taking hostages for almost four decades. This is a regime that, while the Biden administration is offering it sanctions reliefs, recently released a video showing the IRGC blowing up the US Capitol.
"Last week, Iran's chief diplomat allegedly admitted the IRGC calls the shots in Tehran," US Senator Pat Toomey tweeted in response to the footage. "Now, Iran releases a fake video of the [Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps] blowing up our Capitol. The Biden admin's priority should be ensuring Iran cannot carry out such an attack, not capitulating by removing sanctions."
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