Worst of all, though, the Biden administration has extended this olive branch to Tehran following a report this month revealing that the International Atomic Energy Agency found new Iranian uranium-metal production in excess of JCPOA limits. Meanwhile, Iran is threatening to curtail IAEA inspections following a February 23 deadline set by parliament if the U.S. doesn’t cave.
Contrary to what some Iran appeasers argue, this bad behavior is not the result of the Trump-era maximum-pressure campaign. Tehran is escalating now because it sees an opportunity to strong-arm Biden into lifting sanctions first.
Since Thursday, the calls for talks by Jake Sullivan, Blinken, and the president himself have been taken less as a sign of magnanimity than of weakness. Already, Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif has reiterated his demands for sanctions relief as a prerequisite for any talks about U.S. reentry into the JCPOA.
At least the administration hasn’t budged on sanctions — yet. But unless Biden is forceful in pushing back on Iran’s tests of his resolve, yet more will come and perhaps force the kind of crisis that the president wants to avert.