Biden’s Iran policy is a complete disaster, we need a stronger policy: Grant
National security analyst Dr. Rebecca Grant joins "Fox News Live" to weigh in on what steps President Biden can take to rein in Iranian-backed militia strikes on U.S. bases in Syria.
The Iranian regime’s recent drone attack on an American base in Syria, which resulted in the murder of a U.S. contractor, has not deterred the Biden administration from pursuing the controversial nuclear pact with Tehran that would dramatically enrich the coffers of the Islamic Republic.
The White House remains wedded to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) – the formal name for the Iran nuclear deal – that “would allow Tehran to access up to $275 billion in financial benefits during its first year in effect and $1 trillion by 2030.”
Veteran Iran experts have argued that the JCPOA is no longer tenable because it is riddled with serious defects about deterring Iran’s malign behavior, including failing to stop Tehran’s ongoing drone attacks against Americans. Iran’s regime was caught enriching uranium to 84% purity in February – just 6% short of weapons-grade uranium for a nuclear weapon.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei speaks during a meeting with students in Tehran on Oct. 18, 2017. (Iranian Leader’s Press Office / Handout / Anadolu Agency / Getty Images)
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Jason Brodsky, the policy director of the U.S.-based United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI), told Fox News Digital, “The JCPOA framework is not a viable one for the United States. Those who say diplomacy is the most sustainable way of dealing with the Iran nuclear [deal] ignore the history of the last seven-plus years, where world powers have spent more time trying to salvage it than it was ever fully implemented. This is because of a lack of bipartisan support in the United States for the JCPOA paradigm as well as Tehran’s lethal non-nuclear behavior.”
While the U.S. State Department claims the JCPOA is not a priority, it reportedly continues to propose ways to inch toward an agreement. Axios recently reported that the White House is discussing a temporary deal that provides Tehran with some economic sanctions relief in exchange for a freeze of elements of its alleged atomic weapons program.
President Joe Biden, left, is welcomed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on July 15, 2022. (Royal Court of Saudi Arabia / Handout / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
When asked about the reported interim deal proposal, a State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “We are in constant contact with our allies and partners, including the E3, but we’re not going to detail diplomatic conversations or respond to rumors, many of which are simply false.”
E3 is an abbreviation for France, Germany and Britain.
The spokesperson added, “The JCPOA has not been on our agenda since September, when Iran turned its back on a deal that was on the table, but we are still very much open to diplomacy.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, center, reviews an honor guard at Tehran’s Mehrabad International Airport on Sept. 19, 2022. (AP Photo / Vahid Salemi)
The spokesperson continued, “As the president has made clear, the United States is committed to never allowing Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon. We believe diplomacy is the best way to achieve that goal, but President [Joe] Biden has also been clear that we have not removed any option from the table.”
When asked about a report that diplomats from France, Germany and Britain conducted secret talks with Iran last month in Norway, the U.S. spokesperson reiterated its earlier response: “We are in constant contact with our allies and partners, including the E3, on Iran, but we’re not going to detail diplomatic conversations or respond to rumors, many of which are false. For instance, there have been no meetings of the P5+1 and Iran since August.”
The P5+1 is an abbreviation for the United States, France, Britain, China, Russia and Germany.
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The spokesperson added, “Of course, we remain greatly concerned by the expansion of Iran’s nuclear activities, including the operation of advanced centrifuges and accumulation of highly enriched uranium. Iran has no credible peaceful purpose to be undertaking these activities.”
Behnam Ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Fox News Digital that the Biden administration “does not have a desire to solve the Iranian nuclear problem but to manage it.”
Despite the clerical regime’s mass human rights violations, furnishing lethal drones to Russia in its war against Ukraine, and enriching uranium to near military-grade usage, Biden’s “Iran policy continues to be defined by the JCPOA,” said Taleblu.
Iranians protest in the streets of Tehran, Iran, on Oct. 1, 2022, following the death of Mahsa Amini in the custody of the nation’s so-called morality police. (AP Photo / Middle East Images)
Taleblu said the Biden administration’s “maximum deference” to Iran’s rulers over the last 18 months “paved the way to where we are.” He added that the policy permitted Tehran to make “irreversible gains” with respect to its nuclear weapons program. The Iran expert also said the Biden administration “selectively enforces oil sanctions” against Tehran.
He urged that the U.S. government provide “maximum support” to the Iranian protesters opposed to the theocratic state because the U.S. “can’t form an Iran policy in isolation from what is happening on the ground in Iran.”
According to the State Department, the Trump administration is to blame for the current state of affairs with the Islamic Republic: “Let’s also not forget that it was the previous administration’s decision to unilaterally leave the JCPOA that contributed mightily to where we are today, with Iran no longer adhering to the constraints of the deal and rapidly advancing its nuclear program,” the State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital.
Technicians work at the heavy-water reactor near Arak, Iran, in December 2019. (Atomic Energy Organization of Iran / AP / File)
Israeli Brig. Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser, a senior researcher at the Israeli Defense Security Forum and expert on Iran, told Fox News Digital that the perception in the region is “America is weak and not willing to support its allies.” He cited the example of Saudi Arabia’s rapprochement with Iran’s regime that bypassed the U.S. altogether – Communist China brokered the diplomatic deal between Iran and Saudi Arabia.
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Kuperwasser said the “U.S. dreams of going back to the JCPOA, which means the Iranians think they can go further and test the waters in various issues.” He said the “Iranians have showed more self-confidence in their attacks on American bases in Syria and led to the death of one American.” He added that Hezbollah recently attacked Israel – the Iranian regime’s chief strategic partner is the U.S.-designated terrorist movement Hezbollah in Lebanon.
The U.S. government has defined Iran’s regime as the world’s worst international state sponsor of terrorism.
A mural of Ayatollah Khamenei is seen in Tehran, Iran. (Kaveh Kazemi / Getty Images / File)
Kuperwasser said the message being delivered to the Iranians right now is: “They can get away with more than murder.” He continued, “The key is to put pressure on Iran now to stop their nuclear project. The worst thing right now is to revive JCPOA because it gives them a lot of money. They will be able to produce nuclear weapons in the future with JCPOA.”
Kuperwasser bemoaned the American government’s passive posture. He said the U.S. did not take any steps against Iran’s regime at the last session of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for its enrichment of near weapons-grade uranium. IAEA spokesperson Fredrik Dahl declined to provide a comment to Fox News Digital whether progress has been made in stopping Iran’s enrichment.
Kuperwasser said the main problem is Iran’s nuclear program and its enrichment of uranium, that America needs to “look at the entirety of the problem.” He said that the way to avoid a military confrontation with Iran’s regime is to “show credible military options.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi, left, shakes hands with Chinese leader Xi Jinping during an official welcoming ceremony in Beijing on Feb. 14, 2023. (Iranian Presidency Office via AP)
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Brodsky, the Iran expert for UANI, said, “Military options need to be on the table and Tehran needs to believe we are serious about their use if Washington hopes to effectively deter the Islamic Republic. This entails more aggressively targeting Iran’s regime after its attacks on U.S. forces – not just retaliating against its proxies but also Iran’s regime itself. The U.S. government should also be giving serious consideration of an updated AUMF [Authorization for Use of Military Force] focused on Iran, as that is the threat that is most significant today. Just having the AUMF against Iran on the books would be a deterrent in and of itself.”
Iran’s mission to the U.N. did not respond to a press query.
Benjamin Weinthal reports on Israel, Iran, Syria, Turkey and Europe for Fox News Digital. Benjamin has contributed articles to The Wall Street Journal, The Jerusalem Post, Foreign Policy, Haaretz, Forbes and The New York Post. You can follow Benjamin on Twitter @BenWeinthal.