President Joe Biden announced early on that he would be looking to restart the Iran nuclear deal to “fix” what Donald Trump had done in 2018. Democrats have been cheering for this decision, probably because Iran is such a trustworthy negotiating partner, right? I mean, they would never do anything sneaky and continue developing their nuclear weapons program, right? Such beliefs will likely make this week’s news come as a shock to many people. The IAEA, charged with monitoring Iran’s nuclear facilities, revealed that the country plans to shut down the more than 2,000 cameras the agency had installed to monitor their activities and that no footage from those cameras would be released to the United Nations. I’ll give you all a moment to recover from the shock of this announcement. (Associated Press)
The head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog met Sunday with Iranian officials in a bid to preserve his inspectors’ ability to monitor Tehran’s atomic program, even as authorities said they planned to cut off surveillance cameras at those sites.
Rafael Grossi’s arrival in Tehran comes as Iran tries to pressure Europe and the new Biden administration into returning to the 2015 nuclear deal, which President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from in 2018.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who under President Hassan Rouhani helped reach the nuclear deal, said the cameras of the International Atomic Energy Agency would be shut off despite Grossi’s visit to follow a law passed by parliament.
The Iranians are really trying to sugar coat this announcement as much as possible. During a televised interview with Iran’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif tried to assure everyone that this decision was neither a deadline nor an ultimatum. (Of course not… perish the thought!) He claimed that they were simply following a law passed by the Iranian Parliament because they are a democracy, you see.
“We have a democracy. We are supposed to implement the laws of the country. And the parliament adopted legislation — whether we like it or not,” the Foreign Minister said.
See? They really don’t even want to shut down the cameras. But their hands are tied. The Parliament has spoken and they have to follow the law. How very democratic of them.
In reality, the Parliament in Iran doesn’t do a single thing without the approval of the Mullahs, and everyone knows it. And what purpose would shutting down the cameras and locking up the footage serve? A country with nothing to hide would have no need to take such measures. We’ve already learned that Iran has blown past the agreed-upon limits for stockpiling uranium and they’ve pushed their enrichment levels up to 20%, just shy of what’s needed for weapons-grade fissionable materials. Oh, and they’re also running advanced centrifuges that were banned by previous agreements. But I’m sure they don’t have anything to hide.
So Joe Biden has clearly picked a real gem of a partner in these negotiations. On a related note, this is all taking place at the same time that Biden’s own National Security Adviser is trying to explain what they plan to do about the American citizens that Iran is holding in detention. It’s an issue that Jake Sullivan is describing as an “utter outrage” and a “humanitarian disaster.”
Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, said on Sunday the US has begun to communicate with Iran over the detention of American citizens, calling the matter a “complete and utter outrage”.
Iran has arrested dozens of dual nationals, including several Americans, in recent years, mostly on espionage charges. Human rights activists accuse Tehran of trying to use the detentions to win concessions from other countries, a charge it dismisses.
Sullivan told CBS’s Face the Nation it was a “significant priority” to get those Americans “safely back home”.
Something tells me that saying “pretty please” isn’t going to get Iran to turn over any prisoners. They’re obviously angling to get something in return, most likely the loosening of some sanctions and/or fewer limits on their nuclear program. Now we’ll have to wait to see how generous Joe Biden is with them in the hopes of generating some positive headlines for the “progress” he will make with Iran. But hey… Uncle Joe wanted this job. Now he’s got it.