Biden must re-engage Iran before it’s too late

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As Barack Obama’s Vice President, Joe Biden celebrated the nuclear deal with Iran as the government’s outstanding foreign policy achievement. Biden himself played a key role in support Congress- support for the deal – officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA.

But in May 2018 despite Full compliance with Iran, President Donald Trump abruptly withdrew from the deal and launched a “maximum pressure” campaign with tough new sanctions and a larger US military presence around Iran.

Still, even after the US came dangerously close bombing the country, Iran continued to abide by the deal at least until July 2019after unsuccessfully asking for US sanctions relief.

Many expected Biden to prioritize a return to the deal when he became president. But as a deal celebrated its sixth birthday in July, its future – and the promise of a US relationship with Iran rooted in respect for the dignity of the Iranian people – saw deeply in doubt.

Biden’s approach to rejoining the deal his predecessor had torpedoed was mixed at best.

On the one hand, Biden appointed Rob Malley – one of the leading US negotiators for the JCPOA under Obama – as the US special envoy for Iran. The US also participated in talks with Iran brokered by European negotiators in Vienna. The talks continue today.

On the other hand, many Biden officials have been pessimistic from the start. Foreign Minister Antony Blinken said: “Iran violates on several fronts. “Avril Haines, director of the National Intelligence Service, said:”We are fars “comes back from Iran.

Reading these statements one might forget that it was actually the United States, not Iran, that pulled out of JCPOA compliance first.

Off the negotiating table, Biden has essentially maintained – and even escalated – the hostile status quo set against Iran by the Trump administration. The USA started at the end of June Air strikes in Syria and Iraq Targets that the Pentagon claimed to belong to “Iran-backed militias”.

President Joe Biden speaks in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on July 19, 2021, on the country’s economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

That same week, Biden received Israeli President Reuven Rivlin and reaffirmed Washington’s “iron” commitment to Israel. It is widely believed that Israel carried out a number of attacks against Iran, including: the 2020 murder of nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh in Tehran and an attack on Iranian nuclear facilities in Natanz in early spring. Israel took everything but took recognition for the latter operation.

Meanwhile, Biden has almost all harsh sanctions upheld which Trump has imposed on Iran, which has caused enormous suffering in the country.

While the sanctions against Iran are nominally aimed at certain purchases and sales, such as in the energy sector and transactions by Iranian banks, the threat of “secondary sanctions” against countries and financial institutions doing business there has plunged the country into almost complete financial isolation.

The sanctions in particular have made it difficult for Iranians buy medicine and get medical care – a devastating limitation anytime, but especially during a pandemic. From January 2020 to early July 2021, Iran reported over 3.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 85,000 deaths highest toll In the middle east.

It could get worse than the highly contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus spreading through Iran. With vaccination rates lagging behind and infection rates rising again, Iran is one of the most vulnerable countries in the world for severe lack of oxygen, threatens the total collapse of his health system.

Iran’s poor economic situation has made it difficult to enforce security measures such as temporarily closing businesses or providing financial assistance to disabled people. Under the Trump administration, the US went so far block an IMF loan of $ 5 billion that Iran asked for help in fighting COVID-19.

This June the Biden administration issued Guidance Facilitating the delivery of face masks, ventilators and vaccines to heavily sanctioned countries such as Iran, Venezuela and Syria. But many lives might have been saved by acting much earlier.

Rather than seizing the opportunity to reinstate US relations with Iran, the Biden administration has for the most part continued the course of aggression set by the previous administration. With US and Israel military aggression and a protracted economic and health crisis exacerbated by US sanctions, ordinary Iranians are paying the price.

The US must immediately change course, take responsibility for the damage its policies have wrought, and take an approach to Iran that is not centered on militarization and economic suffocation, but on honoring the humanity of the Iranian people – before it is too late.

Azadeh Shahshahani is Head of Legal and Advocacy at Project South and former President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Khury Petersen-Smith is a Michael Ratner Middle East Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

The views expressed in this article are the authors’ own views.


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