Currently, negotiations are underway to attempt to find a replacement deal for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). More specifically, the new Biden administration is trying to find a way to make the Islamic Republic of Iran return to the terms of the now-defunct JCPOA. At the moment, the negotiations are centered around what the United States and the West will pay or give to Iran in order for Iran to consent to return to the severely flawed JCPOA deal.
Iran is the world’s most prolific sponsor of state-backed terrorism. Unfortunately, a return to the JCPOA would only provide Iran with a clear path toward obtaining nuclear weapons in the future while simultaneously being given significant sums of money and economic relief by the West. The Center on Military and Political Power reports that this outcome provides the Iranian regime with everything it desires. The Iranian government is currently facing an economic crisis with dwindling reserves. Additionally, Iran’s primarily uranian enrichment facility experienced an explosion recently, further setting back Iran’s ability to achieve its nuclear ambitions. According to the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, reentering the JCPOA alone would provide Iran with both a pathway to economic recovery and nuclear weapons in the future. It is not clear why it would be advantageous for the West or the Iranian people for the regime to be economically strengthened and given nuclear weapons capabilities.
Reentering the JCPOA does not provide the United States or the West with any tangible benefit nor leverage over Iran. Each of the items that the Iranian government is struggling with stands as potential leverage for the United States and the West. However, the Biden administration is not utilizing any of these options as leverage in the current negotiations.
Iran is successfully wielding the threat of nuclear escalation to exploit the West into yielding significant economic concessions via sanction relief, payment, and reentering the defunct JCPOA deal. Re-entering the JCPOA will enable the regime to legally begin using advanced nuclear centrifuges and grow their enrichment capabilities. The likelihood of this outcome has been observed by many organizations. When the restrictions from the JCPOA sunset over the next several years, Iran will have everything in place needed to begin nuclear weapons production while receiving massive economic aid to bolster the government in the meantime. Even during the 2015 JCPOA agreement, Iran violated the terms by advancing its nuclear production capabilities; therefore, any sunsetting nuclear limitations that are reentered with the Biden administration are not likely to be followed. Moreover, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) recently found the Iranian regime has been hiding non-disclosed nuclear materials.
The old JCPOA deal needs to be fixed before Biden considers reentering the deal with Iran. The sunsetting provisions need to be addressed. Iran’s past and current violations of the deal need to be reconciled. A new deal should address Iran’s production of nuclear materials, nuclear weaponization, and their means for delivering nuclear weapons. All three of these items must be addressed for a deal to have any hope of curbing Iran’s nuclear goals. The United States should permanently end Iran’s path toward acquiring nuclear weapons and not enable Iran to obtain nuclear armament.