An Update from CUFI Action Fund
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This week the Iranians met, yet again, with world powers in Vienna to discuss the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. As we’ve seen numerous times before, nothing good has or will come out of such meetings. And the reason is simple: we know what the Iranians, the Israelis and the Biden administration hope will come out of these talks and when you look at those objectives side-by-side, those who oppose a nuclear Iran have a real problem.

What Does Everyone Want?

The Iranians have not been ambiguous about their goals. They opened the talks by insisting all sanctions be lifted. The regime is evil, but it’s not strategically irrational. Tehran wants to continue their nuclear program while lessening sanctions targeting the regime. Israel too has been very clear about what they want, an end to Iran’s nuclear program and malign activities. Neither the Iranian nor the Israeli positions should come as a surprise to anyone. Tehran and Jerusalem have been clear and consistent about their objectives.

This brings us, troublingly, to the Biden administration. Those around the President indicated initially that the Administration was seeking a longer and stronger agreement. Something both Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill welcomed. And then in time, they began discussing the need for a return to the ineffective Iran nuclear accord, with the intention of a follow on agreement. The Biden Administration weakened its position, much to the chagrin of leaders on both sides of the aisle in congress. But even this, of course, did not satisfy the Iranians (see above).

So, this week we have Team Biden negotiating (indirectly) with Team Terror and we’re wondering what is it that the White House hopes to achieve? The likely answer is nothing meaningful. Sadly, it’s become apparent that President Biden is committed to the same goal as President Obama in 2015: any deal, at any cost. But here’s the rub, with the Iranians making clear that they will not rejoin the JCPOA, any new interim agreement is likely to be weaker than the 2015 agreement.

What Can Be Done About it?

President Obama showed us that whether or not the majority of Americans or elected officials oppose a deal with Iran, the President can make any political agreement they see fit. But we’ve long advocated that if President Biden does come to an agreement with Iran, that such should be submitted to the Senate for ratification as a treaty. This both strengthens the President’s hand in negotiations and, as CUFI’s poll from last summer shows, enjoys overwhelming bipartisan support.

If one wants a durable and strong agreement with Iran, submitting such to the Senate is a no-brainer. If one simply wants to do the Potomac two-step and push a weak agreement that won’t survive then submitting such to the Senate is a deal-breaker. Eventually, the Biden Administration will take steps that will give us a conclusive answer to what they are looking for. In the meantime, however, there are other issues related to Iran that need to be addressed as well.

What About Additional Sanctions?

This past week, bipartisan leaders of the House Foreign Affairs Committee introduced the Stop Iranian Drones Act. The CUFI Action Fund wholeheartedly supports this smart, bipartisan legislation. In a nutshell, according to the bill’s sponsors, this legislation would “clarify that US sanctions on Iran’s conventional weapons program under CAATSA [Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act] include the supply, sale or transfer to or from Iran of unmanned combat aerial vehicles.” Given Iran’s increasing use of drones, and of course their penchant for giving weapons to their terrorist proxies, this legislation is timely and important as is the signal of Democrats and Republicans working together to counter the Iranian threat. More to come on this front in weeks ahead.

The challenge with sanctioning the malign and murderous behavior of the Iranians is that the Iranians will react negatively. Now, Iran is already a nuclear bomb seeking state sponsor of terror, so one could be forgiven for asking how much worse they could get. But in the eyes of the Biden Administration, it seems these sins are not as central to the conversation as is the prospect of Tehran using any new non-nuclear sanctions as an excuse to walk away from the aforementioned (and completely useless) nuclear talks.

We end, therefore, where we began. Everyone’s cards are on the table. And everyone knows that only strength will bring Tehran to heel. There’s still time for President Biden to correct his course and provide real leadership on this issue. But in the meantime, we’ll back every legitimate piece of legislation that has the potential to thwart Iran’s malicious ambitions, even if that spoils President Biden’s plans for another worthless Iran nuclear agreement.


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