The Politics of the Iran Nuclear Deal

Biden and his advisers need to focus on the political downsides of being the president who let the nuclear deal expire on his watch.

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Michael Hirsh reports on the lingering toxic effects of Trump’s foreign policy decisions, including the decision to renege on the nuclear deal. Biden’s timidity on reversing Trump’s policy has left many observers baffled:

“The decision-making process in the administration is such that people who have the last word with the president are prioritizing domestic policy over foreign policy,” said Ali Vaez of the International Crisis Group, who is a former top aide to Robert Malley, the Biden administration’s chief Iran negotiator.

The result, Vaez said, was “tragic” for Biden and would come back to haunt him, especially with Iran edging toward potential nuclear breakout – the point at which the country has enough fissile material for a bomb. “For someone like him with so much foreign-policy experience to allow politics to play such a role is unbelievable.”

Biden’s mishandling of the revival of the nuclear deal has loomed larger than some of his other foreign policy mistakes because it is such a high-profile issue, it was a major difference between Biden and Trump during the campaign, and the magnitude of Trump’s failure was so great. It has also undermined Biden’s claim to competence in matters of foreign policy, which his supporters assumed was one of his strengths. Rejoining the agreement is a no-brainer on the merits, so it has been discouraging to see the process drag on for more than a year when U.S. reentry should have been relatively straightforward. Vaez says that it is “unbelievable” that Biden is allowing domestic politics to play such a dominant role in the decision-making process, but it is unfortunately all too believable given the president’s tendency to favor the status quo even when it was created by Trump. Add in political calculations during an election year, and you have a recipe for inaction and stagnation.

Carl Bildt and Javier Solana are similarly mystified by Biden’s slow-walking approach:

So it’s puzzling that, after running on a return to the nuclear deal and promising that “America is back,” Biden has been slow-walking diplomacy that US allies strongly support. The common refrain is that he is “playing it safe” on Iran ahead of the upcoming midterms. But frankly, being the president under whose watch efforts to contain Iran’s nuclear efforts succeeded would be a much bigger hit for Biden and the Democrats in advance of the 2024 elections.

Read the rest of the article at SubStack

Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

7 thoughts on “The Politics of the Iran Nuclear Deal”

  1. “Biden’s timidity on reversing Trump’s policy has left many observers baffled”
    Cutting and pasting what I’ve been saying on this site:
    I’m an engineer, and everybody needs to understand the single controlling technical reality here: nuclear reactors are to nuclear weapons as gas stations are to napalm. If you have the first, you can readily produce the second. That the Iranians may not have and may not currently intend to create a nuclear weapons program is essentially immaterial. A large and ongoing civilian nuclear program is substantially a nuclear force in being, and when located in the Middle East it counterweights the Israeli shadow arsenal. As Israel ratchets, which with time it will have to do, Iran and potentially other countries will ratchet right along with it. The two paths are peace and catastrophe. The Israelis have always more or less dismissed peace as incompatible with their circumstances, and what they are doing with the JCPOA is trying to keep the can kicking down the road until some third option besides peace and catastrophe appears, which it won’t. Israel would like for Putin to use tactical nukes in Ukraine, at which point I expect they will hit Bushehr. But anyway, all the arm waving around the JCPOA can be readily understood if you grasp the simple technical reality, which very few people in fact do.

  2. Jan 13, 2020 A timeline of U.S.-Iran relations The U.S. and Iran have a complicated history dating back decades.

    From the U.S. involvement in the shah’s 1953 coup of Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddegh, to the Iran hostage crisis in 1979, to the U.S. killing of one of Iran’s top generals in January 2020, the U.S. and Iran’s conservative religious and political leaders have often found themselves in stark opposition to one another about their visions for both Iran’s own future and larger interests in the Middle East.

    1. It is sad and bad that the USA has a long history of meddling in other countries’ affairs. I am an Asian Indian and grew up in the US. I had classmates in high school that called me “Stupid or effing A-rab or I-ranian”, although I am neither Arab nor Iranian.

      1. They are apparently small minded and bigots friend. I dislike small minded people. Ayn Rand defined it best, “Racism is the lowest, most crudely primitive form of collectivism” Ayn Rand

      2. These people have nothing to show for except common shared features of belonging to the white race .They wear it like they wear many tattoos. They believe that Dinosaur walked on earth with human, Europe was rescued by USA in WW2,Iraq invaded Idaho while it was morning in NY but dark midnight in Idaho ,and 2008 economic cries was due to Latino- Blacks getting free mortgages
        and Covid was not a danger but China created it to hurt America . Their knowledge of , science, economy, and history is expressed in the bold loud collective assertions : We are the best.Rest of the world want to move to the USA .

  3. As Zionazi Israhell is busy planning and organising a war with IRAN, Amerikkka will certainly not stay “unactive” !!

  4. May be he has been told what’s would happen if he dared to reverse Trump’s decision . Trump was promised taht he would not be impeached if he slayed Suleiman.

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