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Friday, August 26, 2022

OPINION:

Since he became president seventeen months ago, Joe Biden has worked relentlessly to undo everything former President Donald Trump had done and virtually every aspect of American prosperity and strength.

Mr. Biden’s open borders have allowed a reported 5 million illegal aliens into the nation. We were energy independent in 2021 but now go begging for oil. Mr. Biden’s reckless government spending has propelled inflation, he fled Afghanistan leaving hundreds of Americans behind, and our military is much weaker because of the “wokeness” he has forced upon it.


The only thing that has escaped Mr. Biden is Mr. Trump’s 2018 revocation of former President Barack Obama’s 2015 nuclear weapons deal with Iran. For 16 months, Mr. Biden has obsessively pursued renewing the deal Mr. Trump canceled despite Iran’s provocations and increasing demands.

There are so many events that should have caused Mr. Biden to walk away from the Iran talks that we have to ask, just what could Iran do to get Mr. Biden to stop the negotiations?

In January 2021, shortly before Mr. Trump left office, a U.S. drone strike killed Iran’s chief terrorist, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Since then, Iran has been threatening revenge. On the second anniversary of Soleimani’s death, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi threatened, “If Trump and (former secretary of state Mike) Pompeo are not tried in a fair court for the criminal act of assassinating General Soleimani, Muslims will take our martyr’s revenge.” That is a threat of assassination against both men. Still, Mr. Biden continued his negotiations.

On Aug. 10, the Department of Justice charged Shahram Poursafi, allegedly a member of the IRGC, with attempting to contract for the assassination of former Trump national security adviser John Bolton for the price of $300,000. After the Justice Department made public the charges against Mr. Poursafi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken issued a statement saying, in part, that “any attack would be met with severe consequences.” Author Salman Rushdie, under an Iranian sentence of death since 1989, was almost murdered in New York allegedly by Hadi Matar, who has praised the IRGC online. That attack apparently wasn’t among those included in Mr. Blinken’s statement.

Thomas Kaplan, founder of United Against Nuclear Iran, has reportedly been warned by the FBI that he may be a target of Iranian attacks. Other UANI members, including former senator Joe Lieberman, are also targeted by Iran. Still, Mr. Biden continues to negotiate.

In the time since Mr. Trump revoked the 2015 deal, Iran has proceeded to enrich uranium to the point at which they could have enough weapons-grade uranium to produce one or more nuclear weapons in weeks, not months or years. We have known since before 2015 that Iran has the technology to produce these weapons and has tested nuclear triggers.

Mr. Biden’s negotiation team is headed by Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley. Iran refuses to negotiate directly with U.S. representatives, so the negotiations are held indirectly with British, French, German and Russian representatives speaking to Iran’s representatives. They have put forth a “final draft” of an agreement.

In an Aug. 12 interview with PBS, Mr. Malley said, “The situation we’re in today, as a result of the decision to withdraw from the deal, is, Iran is only a handful of weeks away from having enough fissile material for a bomb. So, again, we have to compare this to the reality we’re living today if we could get a deal that would put Iran back several months away from being able to have enough fissile material for a bomb.” His unfinished sentence means that would be enough to satisfy Mr. Biden.

It would be absurdly insufficient to relieve Iran of sanctions for a new agreement to push Iran from several weeks to several months away from producing nuclear weapons. But, still, Mr. Biden negotiates.

It’s entirely clear that the threats against Mr. Trump and Mr. Pompeo, the attempt to contract a hit on Mr. Bolton, the attempted murder of Mr. Rushdie and the threats against Mr. Kaplan and Mr. Lieberman are each more than sufficient for any president to walk away from the negotiations with Iran.

Iran has demanded that the U.S. never withdraw from the agreement again. But even if Mr. Biden sent any agreement he reaches to the Senate for ratification as a treaty — which he won’t, because it would be rejected — treaties can be unratified. Mr. Biden will settle for an easily revoked presidential agreement as bad or worse than the 2015 original.

Responding to the “final draft” presented by the European negotiators, Iran has insisted on a guarantee that Western companies investing in Iran would be protected — i.e., paid by the West — if the U.S. withdrew from a new deal. It also reportedly proposed a mechanism to allow Iran to increase its nuclear development if another withdrawal occurred.

We have to deduct from Iran’s threats and other conduct that it is so confident in its ability to soon have nuclear weapons that nothing in any agreement Mr. Biden negotiates will change that outcome. Mr. Biden should end the negotiations forthwith and pursue realistic means of denying Iran nuclear weapons.

• Jed Babbin is a national security and foreign affairs columnist for The Washington Times and contributing editor for The American Spectator.


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