We can only hope. We’ve heard before that Joe Biden and his team have readied themselves for failure on their plan to reinstate the useless Iran deal. However, we’ve never heard it before from one of its biggest champions, Robert Malley, who yesterday said not to bet on it:
President Joe Biden’s envoy for Iran said Wednesday the prospects of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal were “tenuous” at best as lawmakers demanded the White House come up with a new plan to prevent Tehran from acquiring an atomic bomb.
The envoy, Robert Malley, the lead U.S. negotiator for the revival of the nuclear accord, told members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that “as I sit here today, the odds of a successful negotiation are lower than the odds of failure,” adding, “And that is because of the excessive Iranian demands and … to which we will not succumb.”
“We do not have a deal with Iran, and prospects for reaching one are, at best, tenuous,” Malley said.
The issue is apparently the demand to remove the IRGC from the State Department’s terrorist watch list. Malley was coy about it in his testimony yesterday, but did say that an unrelated issue had become an apparently insurmountable obstacle:
Malley said that Iran’s demand was unrelated to the 2015 nuclear deal and that as a result Tehran would have to offer an equivalent “reciprocal” concession to Washington, which so far it has failed to do.
Although the Biden administration has not declared a final decision on Iran’s demand, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted this week that Biden had told him the U.S. would not remove the Revolutionary Guard from the terrorism blacklist.
On that score, the Israelis are intent on making sure that the US knows it won’t blithely stand by while Biden hands the keys to the region off to the mullahs. They sent that message in Tehran and made sure to cc the Biden administration on it, the New York Times reported today:
Col. Sayad Khodayee, 50, was fatally shot outside his home on a quiet residential street in Tehran on Sunday when two gunmen on motorcycles approached his car and fired five bullets into it, according to state media. Iran has blamed Israel for the killing, which bore the hallmarks of other Israeli targeted killings of Iranians in a shadow war that has been playing out for years on land, sea, air and in cyberspace.
“We will make the enemy regret this and none of the enemy’s evil actions will go unanswered,” Gen. Hossein Salami, the commander in chief of the Revolutionary Guards, said in a speech on Monday. A member of Iran’s National Security Council, Majid Mirahmadi, said the killing was “definitely the work of Israel,” and warned that harsh revenge would follow, according to Iranian media.
A spokeswoman for the Israeli prime minister declined to comment on the killing. But according to an intelligence official briefed on the communications, Israel has informed American officials that it was behind the killing.
The United States has designated the Revolutionary Guards as a terrorist group — a decision that has been a sticking point in the negotiations with Iran to revive the 2015 nuclear deal. Iran has demanded that the designation be removed as a condition for restoring the deal, but the United States has refused, leaving the negotiations frozen.
It’s not the only recent death that has impacted Iranian black ops. One of its nuclear engineers died in what Iran is now calling an “accident” at Parchin, its presumed-central research facility for nuclear weapons, a site that Iran blocked inspectors from entering. That explanation may be true, or perhaps something else happened that Iran doesn’t want to acknowledge:
“On Wednesday evening, in an accident that took place in one of the research units of the defence ministry in the Parchin area, engineer Ehsan Ghad Beigi was martyred and one of his colleagues injured,” the ministry said in a short statement.
“Investigations into the cause of this accident are underway.”
State media had earlier reported that one person was killed and another injured in an “industrial accident” in Parchin.
The Parchin complex is alleged to have hosted past testing of conventional explosives that could be used to detonate a nuclear warhead, something Iran has repeatedly denied.
Two years ago, another “accident” at Parchin produced an explosion that rattled Tehran itself. That’s a lot of accidents at a key strategic facility. Either Iran is really bad at what it’s doing there, or saboteurs can penetrate their security when needed. And with Biden’s team pressing hard to cut a deal with the terror-sponsoring state, someone thinks it’s needed more than ever.
Anyway, Malley’s pessimism on this point should raise spirits in Jerusalem and Riyadh, as well as other capitals in the region. One has to wonder, though, whether Biden and Malley are desperate enough to get any kind of “win” that they’ll fold on the issue of the IRGC. Barack Obama’s desperation for a foreign-policy achievement led to the first disastrous Iran deal, and it’s still too early for optimism that we can avoid another stupid move in the region under this president. Perhaps especially while Malley remains in nominal charge of the effort.