By Melanie Phillips (JNS) As Iran reportedly reaches the brink of obtaining enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, the Biden administration is now astoundingly colluding with this lethal rogue state against the interests of Israel and America’s allies in the region.
The U.S. State Department is waiving sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program. The Biden administration hopes this will persuade Tehran to return to compliance with the 2015 deal that it has been violating since former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement in 2018 and reimposed harsh sanctions.
Lifting them releases Iran’s frozen funds held abroad, estimated at some $29 billion or about one-third of its foreign assets. Iran will once against be allowed to trade with the rest of the world using global banking systems. Sanctions against exports of Iranian oil will also be removed. Foreign firms will once again be allowed to invest in Iran’s commodities.
With these funds, the Iranian regime will be shored up in power, receive the resources to ratchet up its aggressive activities abroad and be confident that it can finish developing nuclear weapons with impunity.
Earlier this week, U.S. officials estimated that Iran was on the verge of producing enough fuel for a nuclear bomb in just a matter of weeks and could have a device built in less than a year.
As Omri Ceren, the national security adviser for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) tweeted on Feb. 5: “The Biden administration is giving Iran a nuclear weapons arsenal.”
This is despite Iran’s constant aggression. Having armed, mobilized and advised militias in Iraq for many years, it is now using them to attack Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and other states. Last month, Iranian-backed Houthis in Yemen attacked the UAE on three occasions. And this week, Iran unveiled a new missile with a reported range that would allow it to reach U.S. bases in the region as well as targets inside Israel.
While Iran is unceasing in its aggression, the Biden administration is unceasing in its attempts to offer it inducements. These include the previous lifting of some sanctions and halting the release of a report by the International Atomic Energy Authority detailing Tehran’s non-compliance with an IAEA investigation into Iran’s undeclared nuclear activities.
The pattern is constant. Tehran refuses to budge and redoubles its aggression. In response, the United States grovelingly offers yet more sweeteners. Tehran treats these as a sign of weakness and imminent victory, and ratchets up its demands still more.
Thus in response to the latest lifting of sanctions, Iran’s foreign minister said this was “good but not enough.”
Even more tragically, there are signs that the previous policy of sanctions has been helping lay the ground for the one thing that can avert a terrible war with Iran—if the Iranian people themselves bring the regime down.
A “hacktivist” organization has revealed a highly sensitive Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps document that asserts Iranian society “is in a state of explosion” because of the crippling sanctions imposed by the Trump administration.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the U.S. government news organization Radio Farda obtained the document from Edalat-e Ali (“Ali’s Justice”), the whistleblower entity that has also secured confidential documents and video footage about the torture of Iranian prisoners.
According to Radio Farda’s Golnaz Esfandiari, “the document covers a meeting with IRGC’s intelligence wing and quotes an official named ‘Mohammadi’ saying that Iran’s society ‘is in a state of explosion’” and that “social discontent has risen by 300 percent in the past year.”
Last month, Iran’s state-controlled Islamic Republic News Agency reported the country’s deputy interior minister, Taghi Rostamvandi, warning that Iranians were seeking with greater frequency “fundamental changes in the country” and a secular government and way of life.
There have been regular massive protests by the Iranian people which have been brutally put down. These people are astonishingly courageous. But they will only rise up effectively if they believe America and the west are behind them. Appallingly, the Biden administration is signaling instead that it is on the side of the regime.
Twelve years ago, the former Pentagon analyst Harold Rhode wrote in his pamphlet “The Sources of Iranian Negotiating Behaviour”: “It is only when Iranians become convinced that either their rulers lack the resolve to do what is necessary to remain in power or that a stronger power will protect them against their current tyrannical rulers, that they will speak out and try to overthrow leaders.
“Compromise (as we in the West understand this concept) is seen as a sign of submission and weakness. It is for this reason that goodwill and confidence-building measures should be avoided at all costs. If the West is to succeed, Iranians must be convinced, in terms they understand, that America is prepared to establish itself as a powerful force and help the Iranian population liberate themselves from the tyranny under which they live.”
So this is the moment that the United States should ratchet up the pressure on Tehran. Alas, it is doing the precise opposite.
It’s hard to imagine that the Biden administration can be so stupid. What’s more likely is that—astonishingly—it is either indifferent to Iran getting the bomb or even actually wants it to do so.
After all, the administration is stuffed with people who are the enemies of
Israel and the West. President Joe Biden’s envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, whitewashed Yasser Arafat’s duplicity at Camp David and has a long track record of sympathy for the Iranian regime and animus towards Israel.
And since it gained power, the administration has been pivoting away from its allies in the Gulf towards their Iranian foe. This near-incomprehensible position was explained last year in a devastating and authoritative piece in Tablet by Michael Doran and Tony Badran.
The appeasement of Iran, they wrote, could be described as the third and final stage of former President Barack Obama’s hitherto unfinished policy.
This had sought to achieve a new Middle East order which relied on partnership with Iran.
The aim was for America to withdraw from engagement in the Middle East. To enable that to happen, there had to be a new equilibrium between states to achieve a balance of power. The authors called this policy the “Realignment.”
It’s not too fanciful to see this as Obama’s strategy, since Biden has remained close to him while key Biden staffers, such as Malley, are even closer.
With signs that the United States might be about to cave in completely to Iran and close a renewed nuclear deal, several U.S. lawmakers have become increasingly alarmed and outspoken. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, last week argued for an hour on the floor of the Senate against reviving the deal.
Yet in stark contrast to the ferocious public opposition to the 2015 deal voiced by Israel’s former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there has been almost total silence from Israel’s current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.
Last weekend, in what’s been described as a friendly phone call between Bennett and Biden, Bennett reportedly expressed disagreement with America’s Iran policy.
It seems that he wants to keep Biden sweet by keeping such a disagreement private. But without public pressure from the world becoming aware of America’s treacherous perfidy over Iran, which is endangering not just Israel but America itself, it will be far easier for the Biden administration to flick away Israel’s profound and all-too-real concerns.
After all, how can sober realists like Menendez gain any traction if Israel itself remains silent?
And meanwhile, as the U.S. advertises to the world its terrible weakness, Russia and China are watching … and making their plans.
Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy.” Go to melaniephillips.substack.com to access her work.