Iran's ballistic missile capability is one of the most critical pillars of Tehran's national security policy -- the third-most important program of its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, along with the nuclear program and supporting the country's foreign proxies. (Image source: iStock)
When Iran's regime is ecstatic about a deal, it should send a warning signal to the US and its allies. That the ruling mullahs are asking the Biden administration for guarantees that the US will never be able to leave the new nuclear deal, even after President Joe Biden leaves office, should signal that the mullahs want this deal badly and set off all sorts of alarms.
A nuclear deal with the Iranian regime is a win for the Islamic Republic. A deal would have several advantages for Tehran's regime. First, a nuclear deal would boost Iran's ballistic missile program as it did right after the 2015 deal, when Tehran promptly accelerated its missile development and tests.
To keep the Islamic Republic in the nuclear deal, the world powers will most likely be reluctant to hold the theocratic establishment accountable for its ballistic missile violations. There is a precedent for such an argument. At the time, the United Nations Security Council disregarded Iran's advances despite the JCPOA's "restrictions on Iranian ballistic missile activities," which states:
"Paragraph 3 of Annex B of resolution 2231 (2015) calls upon Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.... these restrictions shall apply until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day (18 October 2015) or until the date on which the IAEA submits a report confirming the Broader Conclusion, whichever is earlier."
It is worth noting that Iran's ballistic missile capability is one of the most critical pillars of Tehran's national security policy -- the third-most important program of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), along with Iran's nuclear program and supporting the country's foreign proxies. Iran, surpassing Israel, possesses the largest ballistic missile program in the Middle East. Moreover no country other than Iran developed or acquired long-range ballistic missiles before obtaining nuclear weapons.
Second, as critical sanctions are removed on the Islamic Republic's energy, financial, and shipping sectors, a nuclear deal will lift the financial strain on the Iranian regime. Tehran's most recent economic woes began after the nuclear deal fell apart under the Trump administration. The regime is reportedly facing one of the worst budget deficits in its four-decade rule. Iran is running a deficit of almost a billion USD budget every month. This deficit, in return, has increased inflation and devalued the Iranian currency (rial) even further.
The Chinese Communist Party, however, is strengthening its ties with the Iranian regime and helping it violate US sanctions, conveniently without facing any repercussions from the Biden administration. China is ramping up its oil imports from Iran in spite of US sanctions, and it recently announced the launch of new 25-year strategic partnership with the Islamic Republic.
With a nuclear deal, however, Tehran will be able to take advantage of its energy resources. Iran has the second-largest natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves in the world; the sale of these resources account for more than 80% of its export revenues.
Third, a nuclear deal will be a victory for Iran's foreign militias and terror groups. The 2015 nuclear deal allowed the flow of billions of dollars into the treasury of Iranian regime, thereby providing the revenues that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) needed to escalate their military adventurism in the region. That project included financing, arming and supporting their militias and terror groups in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Gaza and Yemen. After the nuclear agreement, Iran's meddling, interventions in the region, and funding militia groups immediately escalated.
Iran also increased deliveries of weapons and munitions to its foreign militias, and the number of ballistic missiles deployed by Iran's proxies rose to an unprecedented level. When the JCPOA nuclear deal was scuttled in 2018, some of Iran's authorities publicly announced that they did not have money to pay their mercenaries abroad. In an interview with the state-run Ofogh Television Network, Parviz Fattah, the head of Iran's Foundation for the Underprivileged (Mostazafan Foundation) stated:
"I was at the IRGC Cooperative Foundation. Haj Qassem [Soleimani, the IRGC Quds Force commander killed by a US drone strike] came and told me he did not have money to pay the salaries of the Fatemiyoun [Afghan mercenaries]. He said that these are our Afghan brothers, and he asked for help from people like us."
Finally, with a nuclear deal, the regime would gain global legitimacy, making it even more difficult to hold Iran's leaders accountable for any malign behavior or terror activity across the world.
Will the US and the international community reward yet another predatory, expansionist regime with nuclear capability and billions of dollars and the ability to have increased oil and missile production?
That the ruling mullahs of Iran seem to be so delighted with what the Biden team is apparently offering, that Iran even wants assurances from the administration that the US can never pull out of the deal, should blowtorch the US negotiators out of the room.
How much punishment to his legacy is Biden eager to take on?
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