Issues

Biden cannot allow Iran to keep its weapons program

04/08/2021

Abbas Araghchi, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, could not have been more clear after the first round of talks aimed at reviving the 2015 nuclear deal concluded this week in Vienna: We’re not making any concessions until America does.

The U.S. must first lift sanctions, he said. Then and only then will Iran be “fully ready to stop its retaliation nuclear activity and return to its full commitments.” Until now, President Joe Biden’s administration has said that it won’t lift sanctions until Iran returns to compliance. 

Araghchi’s you-go-first ploy is a clever tactic. But it also begs an important question: What about Iran’s non-retaliating nuclear activity? The deputy foreign minister is counting on other countries that agreed to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, to view America’s withdrawal from that agreement in 2018 the way the Iranians do: Iran was in compliance and the U.S. left the deal anyway. 

That’s not quite right. There is another set of negotiations taking place in Vienna — between the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Iran. They involve three undeclared sites where the agency’s inspectors have found traces of processed uranium. Reuters has reported that the negotiations have been delayed. IAEA inspectors would like more access and answers to the many questions their initial research has yielded.

All of this stems from revelations brought to the world’s attention in 2018 by Israel after the Mossad raided a Tehran warehouse and purloined an archive of blueprints and files that disclosed a huge nuclear weapons program dating to the 1980s.

Read More: Bloomberg