The Biden administration continues to ratchet up its appeasement policies with the ruling mullahs probably to revive the disastrous nuclear deal which would pave the way for the Islamist regime of Iran legally to have as many nuclear weapons as it likes; lift sanctions against the theocratic regime; strengthen the ruling mullahs with additional billions of dollars -- for terrorism, nuclear weapons, the missiles to deliver them, "exporting the Revolution, and suppressing their own people -- and allow them to rejoin the global financial system and enhance their legitimacy on the global stage.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced last month that America "will continue to enforce all of our sanctions" and "will continue to push back on Iran's destabilizing activities in the region and beyond."
That just is not accurate. Sanctions are not being enforced: Iran's oil export is booming and has surged above two million barrels a day. The ruling mullahs are now producing ever more oil and selling it at levels close to the pre-sanctions era to countries such as China, which desperately needs it, while the Biden administration has effectively cut off US oil exploration. Iran has also been shipping vast amounts of oil to Venezuela without either country fearing repercussions from the Biden administration.
Ever since the Biden administration assumed office, Iran's oil exports have been on the rise. During the Trump administration and the "maximum pressure policy", Iran's oil exports were significantly reduced to 100,000 to 200,000 barrels a day. "Oil sales have doubled," Iran's hardline President Ebrahim Raisi recently boasted. "We are not worried about oil sales."
Tehran's major revenues, frankly, come from exporting oil. The Iranian regime, according to reports, possesses the world's second-largest natural gas reserves and the fourth-largest proven crude oil reserves. The sale of oil accounts for nearly 60% of the Iranian government's total revenues and more than 80% of its export revenues. Several Iranian leaders have hinted at Iran's major dependence on oil exports. "Although we have some other incomes," former President Hassan Rouhani previously acknowledged, "the only revenue that can keep the country going is the oil money."
Instead of enforcing sanctions, the Biden Administration has been issuing waivers, making the sanctions appear to be simply cosmetic. On June 10, 2023, for instance, the Biden Administration gave Iraq a sanctions-waiver along with a green light to make a payment of $2.76 billion to the Iranian regime.
The Biden Administration also reached a deal with the Iranian regime behind closed doors on August 10, in which the United States agreed to pay $6 billion dollars and release a handful of Iranian nationals who are serving prison sentences in the US, in exchange for the release of five Iranian-Americans imprisoned in Iran – more than a billion dollars per head.
Worse, more billions, apparently, are waiting in the wings. According to former White House Security Official Richard Goldberg:
"At least $16 billion has now been made available to Iran without any congressional input—and more might be on the way. Another $6.7 billion is reportedly moving to Iran via the International Monetary Fund Special Drawing Rights... and reportedly ... another $3 billion of regime assets frozen in Tokyo. India and China...."
The regime will most likely use the funds to further arm and assist Russia in its invasion of Ukraine; brutalize its own citizens; undermine US national security interests; to fund its terrorist and militia groups across the Middle East and expand more deeply into Latin America. As Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) pointed out:
"Of course the Biden administration lied that they wouldn't waive sanctions on Iran just days before they did so. They know that by allowing money to pour into Iran, they are not only endangering the safety and security of Americans but also undermining everything they claim to believe about defeating Putin. They say that Iran is a terror sponsor and Russia's top military backer, but appeasing Iran and getting back into a nuclear deal with the Ayatollah is more important to them. They are funding both sides of the Ukraine war."
By appeasing and giving billions of dollars to the ruling mullahs of Iran, and by turning a blind eye to enforcing sanctions against their expansionist regime, the Biden administration is directly contributing to Iran's brutal crackdown on its population, its sponsorship of terrorism worldwide, its delivery of weapons to Russia to use against Ukraine, and its escalating threat not only to Europe and the Middle East, but urgently, in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, to America and America's national interests.
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