Earlier this week, we looked at the negotiations with Iran that were set to restart in Vienna. None of the parties involved seemed terribly optimistic that any progress would be forthcoming, particularly since Iran was still insisting that they wouldn’t even begin to talk about their nuclear program unless sanctions against them were dropped. The American envoy said at the time that Iran would not be allowed to use further delays as a way of “generating leverage” against the United States. Well, it appears that they had already generated all of the leverage they needed. We’ve now learned that the Biden administration waived multiple sanctions against Iran just as the talks were about to get underway. But the White House didn’t notify Congress of the change for a full ten days and the public is only just now learning about it. (Free Beacon)
The Biden administration quietly waived sanctions on Iran to allow the hardline regime to sell electricity to Iraq, according to a non-public notification obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that was provided to Congress just as nuclear talks between the United States and Tehran resumed this week.
The timing of the waiver notification—which was signed Nov. 19 but not transmitted to Congress until Nov. 29, the day nuclear negotiations resumed—has prompted accusations the Biden administration is offering concessions to Tehran to generate goodwill as talks aimed at securing a revamped version of the 2015 nuclear deal restart following a months-long standoff.
During the several-month pause, Tehran increased its nuclear program, including the enrichment of uranium and installation of advanced nuclear centrifuges.
Granted, Biden didn’t lift all of the sanctions, so that’s something at least. But by allowing Iran to sell electricity to Iraq, they will be able to take in some serious revenue. There are also outstanding questions as to how much (if any) of Iran’s frozen assets in Iraqi banks were already freed up. As usual, the Biden administration keeps almost all of this information secret from the American public and we have no idea what’s going on in those meetings. (The most transparent administration ever strikes again.)
Keep in mind that these sanctions were lifted and the talks got underway after Iranian Brig.-Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi, a designated spokesman for the regime, welcomed the news by insisting that Iran would “never back off” on the annihilation of Israel. And the sanctions relief Iran was demanding was not in exchange for any concessions regarding its nuclear weapons program. It was for their agreement to begin to talk about the program.
Richard Goldberg, a member of the National Security Council under Donald Trump, and the person who oversaw efforts to counter Iran’s development of weapons of mass destruction, summed up the situation nicely.
“This is just another unfortunate example of projecting weakness and deference at a time when the U.S. needs to build leverage and project strength,” said Goldberg, who is now a senior adviser to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies think tank. “If the waiver was going to be renewed for Iraq relations, it should have been messaged and announced well before arrival in Vienna. It just screams desperation.”
It’s almost unbelievable that Joe Biden would agree to lift sanctions on Iran while getting absolutely nothing in return. It’s even more amazing that the White House would make such a unilateral decision and then not even inform Congress about it for ten days. Are we to believe that the intrepid reporters from the White House press corps couldn’t have used their inside sources to ferret out this information before now?
The Jerusalem Post is now asking if these P5+1 talks are all “just a grift.” They find plenty of blame to go around for this situation, but they also describe the current negotiations as America “begging Iran not to build a nuclear bomb.” This is apparently how we’re being seen in the eyes of some of our closest allies at this point.
Goldberg makes the same point I was trying to drive home when writing about this last week. The Iranian envoys have no reason to put anything substantial on the table because they aren’t afraid of us anymore. They can flaunt their new uranium enrichment facilities and enhanced centrifuges while keeping the IAEA inspectors in the dark because they know we’re not going to do a thing about it. And as long as Russia and China continue to covertly help Iran get around some of the remaining sanctions, there is no incentive for them to change their ways.