The Biden administration seems to be investing all its political capital in reviving the nuclear deal with the ruling mullahs of Iran, while it seems clear that Iran's theocratic establishment is only buying time to defiantly advance its nuclear program and has now reached the point where it is close to the nuclear threshold. (Image source: iStock)
The Biden administration seems to be investing all its political capital in reviving the nuclear deal with the ruling mullahs of Iran; the Iranian regime has been defiantly advancing its nuclear program, stepping up its uranium enrichment, working on 1,000 more centrifuges, gaining irreversible knowledge in nuclear development while "negotiating" with the P5+1.
It seems clear that Iran's theocratic establishment is only buying time to advance its nuclear program and has now reached the point where it is close to the nuclear threshold. The Islamic Republic is thought to be only weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz warned on May 17, 2022:
"Iran continues to accumulate irreversible knowledge and experience in the development, research, production and operation of advanced centrifuges... Today, the prices for tackling the Iranian challenge on the global and regional levels are higher than they were a year ago and lower than they will be within a year".
The New York Times also acknowledged that the regime is only weeks away from going nuclear:
"Iran has come within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon, crossing a threshold that may raise pressure on the US and its allies to improve the terms of a potential deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement."
It is totally contradictory that the Iranian regime is progressing its nuclear program at a high speed while participating in global negotiations, the main purpose of which is ostensibly to curb the Islamic Republic's nuclear program.
This crisis comes at a time when more Iranian leaders have acknowledged that the regime's nuclear program was, after all, designed to manufacture nuclear weapons from the outset, and not for peaceful purposes as the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed.
Former Iranian Prime Minister Ali Motahari stated on April 20, 2022:
"To do enrichment directly creates the illusion that we want to make a bomb... From the very beginning, when we entered the nuclear activity, our goal was to build a bomb and strengthen the deterrent forces but we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue, and the secret reports were revealed by a group of hypocrites."
On November 29, 2021, the former head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, was the first Iranian official to admit that his work was part of a nuclear "system" designed to develop nuclear weapons:
"When the country's all-encompassing growth began involving satellites, missiles and nuclear weapons, and surmounted new boundaries of knowledge, the issue became more serious for them."
Despite these revelations, all the Biden administration seems to do is appease the mullahs in order to reach a deal. The Biden administration first told the Iranian leaders not only that the U.S. was willing to lift nuclear-related sanctions, but also that it was considering lifting non-nuclear related sanctions. That was followed by the first concession toward Iran's proxy militia group, Yemen's Houthis.
Even as the evidence — including a report by the United Nations — showed that the Iranian regime was delivering sophisticated weapons to the Houthis in Yemen, the Biden administration suspended some of the anti-terrorism sanctions on the Houthis that the Trump administration had imposed. Soon after, on February 12, 2021, the Biden administration revoked the designation of the Houthis as a terrorist group. A few weeks after that, in June 2021, the Biden administration lifted sanctions on three former Iranian officials and several energy companies. Then, in a blow to the Iranian people and advocates of democracy and human rights — a few days after the Iranian regime hand-picked a purported mass murderer, Ebrahim Raisi, to be its next president — the Biden administration announced that it was also considering lifting sanctions against Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
During a critical Senate hearing on May 25, 2022, Robert Malley, President Joe Biden's special envoy for Iran, defended the administration's efforts to revive the nuclear deal with the ruling mullahs of Iran.
Although there is a report that the Biden administration will not be removing Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the terrorist list, Malley clearly suggested that the IRGC's removal from the terrorist list is not off the table:
"We'd made clear to Iran that if they wanted any concession on something that was unrelated to the JCPOA – like the FTO designation – we needed something reciprocal from them that would address our concerns."
But Malley declined to say what the administration is asking for from the Iranian regime to de-list the IRGC from the terrorist list.
Malley also suggested that the Biden administration will submit a final draft of the nuclear deal to the Congress for review. This proposal, however, is most likely an attempt by the Biden administration to pacify the Congress so they will let their guard down. We should recall that the Obama administration, in which Biden was the Vice President, also said that the Congress would get a chance to review the nuclear deal. But Obama went ahead and reached a deal with Iran without Senate approval. The nuclear deal was reached through executive order, not through the Senate.
And later, it was revealed that the administration made multiple secret deals with Iran's ruling mullahs. One of the secret deals consisted of allowing the Iranian regime to have access to US dollars by sidestepping sanctions. "The Obama administration misled the American people and Congress because they were desperate to get a deal with Iran", said Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), who chaired the Senate panel conducting the investigation at the time. The Obama administration also secretly agreed to remove sanctions on several Iranian banks, including Bank Sepah and Sepah International. In addition, according to a previous report by the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, the Obama administration agreed "'in secret' to allow Iran to evade some restrictions" in the last year of the nuclear agreement. David Albright, a former UN weapons inspector, stated that "The exemptions or loopholes are happening in secret, and it appears that they favor Iran." These are only few examples of the secret deals conducted with the Iranian regime to appease it.
While "negotiating" to reach a nuclear deal, the ruling mullahs of Iran continue to advance their nuclear program and inch closer to obtaining a nuclear bomb, the missiles to transport them, and to attack and seemingly, when possible, to take over their neighbors. The Biden administration's weak leadership is only enabling Iran's regime to destabilize the region even further while making it even harder, with a deal, to hold Iran accountable for the mayhem it could well be planning.
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