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Yes, there's a deal with Iran in the works

Office of the Iranian Supreme Leader via AP

Both Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Jen Psaki (presumably speaking for President Biden) have continued to insist that there is no new deal with Iran. In fact, there supposedly aren’t even any direct talks going on between our two nations and everything is being handled through third parties that are also involved in the stalled talks. But as we discussed recently, there are plenty of indicators out there for those with eyes to see that suggest otherwise. There’s a lot of diplomatic travel taking place to Israel, Arab nations and the European Union.

Yesterday, another card was dropped into the game. Another unnamed “senior administration official” told reporters that the White House “has laid out the concessions it’s prepared to make,” but that Iran shouldn’t expect any major new concessions that weren’t already on the table. If that’s the case, then the previous claim that there was no new deal imminent may have been technically true at the moment Blinken’s spokesperson said it, but the suggestion that this situation was on the back burner while Biden’s team worked on domestic issues was, at a minimum, a bit disingenuous. As you’ll see in a moment, what Biden is prepared to offer reportedly includes rolling back all of the new sanctions applied during the Trump administration. (Associated Press)

The Biden administration is signaling that Iran shouldn’t expect major new concessions from the United States as a new round of indirect nuclear talks is set to resume.

A senior administration official told reporters Thursday that the U.S. has laid out the concessions it’s prepared to make in order to rejoin the landmark 2015 nuclear deal that former President Donald Trump withdrew from in 2018. The official said success or failure now depends on Iran making the political decision to accept those concessions and to return to compliance with the accord.

The official spoke to reporters in a State Department-organized conference call on the eve of the negotiations’ resumption in Vienna.

Assuming the statements made by this anonymous source are accurate (still a significant assumption), there are two themes developing in the ongoing negotiations. The first is that Iran is at least happy that Donald Trump is out of office and they want all of the sanctions imposed from 2017 until last winter lifted. Biden is apparently onboard with that part of the proposal because it gives him yet another chance to unwind something that Trump did.

The second theme is that Joe Biden is insisting that the sanctions that were in place under Barack Obama be kept until Iran reverses all of the new nuclear development capabilities that it has put in place recently. These would include the new, more advanced centrifuges they have installed, allowing them to purify uranium up to at least 60%, if not higher. So far Iran is reportedly scoffing at that idea.

In other words, Joe Biden is trying to reset the clock to 2016 and replicate the conditions that existed when he and Obama were in charge. I’m sure most of you remember all of the headlines describing literal pallets of American cash heading into Iran’s coffers and the promises we heard. Just as a reminder to everyone in the peanut gallery, those policies did not work and bring Iran fully into compliance by the time they left office and Trump took over. And given the initial response from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei thus far, they aren’t going to work any better this time, either.

The bottom line here is that we wouldn’t have this much specificity as to what Joe Biden is or isn’t willing to offer and what Iran will or won’t do in return if there weren’t active negotiations going on. And from the sound of it, the Biden White House is more than ready to hand some very expensive gifts to Iran and wind up getting less in return for it than we had when Trump took office. If a deal can be made that truly shuts down Iran’s nuclear weapons program, that’s great. I’ll happy applaud Joe Biden if he can pull it off. But if he’s making a deal with one of the greatest enemies faced by both the United States and Israel just for the sake of rolling back something Trump did and being able to say that made a deal, that’s bad news. Particularly if the agreement leaves Iran with the ability to be far closer to a tactical weapon than they were a few years ago.

In closing, as a reminder, I’ll just leave you all with this lovely video produced by the Iranians last week. Be sure to once again note the graphic images of an Iranian missile being fired and the US Capitol Building going up in flames.