Biden switches back to Obama mode on nuclear-armed Iran

The US has dropped demands for Iran to halt ballistic missile development and regional destabilization aggression from the drive to renegotiate a nuclear deal with Iran. This was indicated by US President Joe Biden at the G20 summit taking place last week in Rome. He merely “pledged” that “if the US returns to the Iran nuclear agreement, it will only subsequently leave if Tehran clearly breaks the terms of the deal.”

These demands were integral to Israel’s support for the diplomatic path Biden has advocated for the resolving the issue of a nuclear-armed Iran.

However, the European signatories of the original 2015 nuclear accord (JCPOA) hailed this pledge as the key to unlocking the diplomatic impasse reached on the Vienna track. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and the UK’s Boris Johnson stated: “We welcome President Biden’s clearly demonstrated commitment to return the US to full compliance with the JCPOA and to stay in full compliance, so long as Iran does the same.”

No wonder Tehran was suddenly accommodating and agreed to resuming negotiations next month..

Seen from Israel, the Biden administration has backtracked from its earlier acceptance of the need to restrain Iran’s regional belligerence and ballistic missiles, along with the drive for a nuclear weapon capability:

  1. Iran has already committed numerous breaches of the terms of the 2015 accord, stripping it of content by strides forward its nuclear goal. What do Biden, Johnson, Merkel and Macron propose to do to turn Iran’s nuclear clock back as well as their own?
  2. How much is the Biden pledge worth if his presidency ends in 2024? It won’t be binding on his successors since the Senate has never endorsed the JCPOA and indeed it was never formally signed by Barack Obama and rested only his personal pledge which Biden now offers to renew.
  3. By reverting to the Obama position, Biden too is ready to give Iran free rein on its ballistic missile program and regional warmongering by using terrorist organizations like the Lebanese Hizballah the Iraqi Shiite militias and Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

These omissions from Washington’s Iran agenda concern Israel no less than the nuclear issue.

Tehran, for its part, did not miss seizing the moment as a chance to push all the way back to the starting point. Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said succinctly: “There is no need for the negotiation and the simplest solution is for Biden to issue an executive order saying he was returning to the nuclear deal and lifting sanctions.” In other words, eliminating Donald Trump’s “maximum pressure” policy and reverting to Barack Obama’s conciliatory mode.

However, in assumping that Biden had totally abandoned all military options, Tehran may have jumped the gun – especially when it comes to American lives or interests,

On Oct. 30, the US President also said: “With regard to the issue of how we’re going to respond to actions taken by them against the interests of the United States – whether they’re drone strikes or anything else – is we’re going to respond, and we’re going to continue to respond.”

He was referring to the pro-Iranian combined armed drone-artillery assault of Oct. 20 on the US garrison at al-Tanf in southern Syria on the Iraq and Jordanian borders. Washington had made no response until then. The delay may have occurred in view of the president’s long absence from Washington at the G20 summit and the climate conference in Glasgow.  However, the impression gained in Tehran was of an American president who was vacillating on resorting to military action in the face of aggression.

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