Columnist: Under Biden, America has lost leverage to negotiate with Iran

The infamous Iran nuclear deal was all the rage during former President Barack Obama’s time in the White House — but in the end, many, including former President Donald Trump, believed the deal was weak and pathetic, at best.

Sadly, now that President Joe Biden — who played a significant role in the original deal with Iran — is back in the White House, it looks like we’re in for a repeat. Washington Examiner commentary writer Tom Rogan charged in an op-ed Friday that in a matter of weeks, Biden has lost virtually all the negotiating power that Trump had established with the rogue nation. And there’s no sign America will soon be gaining that leverage back.

Back to a deal?

Biden first made clear during his presidential campaign that he would work to return the United States back to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear accord that he helped secure under the Obama administration — a deal that Trump pulled the country out of because it disproportionately benefited Iran.

When Trump left the deal in 2018, his administration also imposed devastating economic sanctions on Iran, which further squeezed bargaining power out of the Middle Eastern nation. But under Biden, things have changed.

As Rogan noted, it was recently announced that Iran will soon be sitting at the table across from other signatories of the original deal, including Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States, although the U.S. is not expected to play an active role in discussions.

Rogan pointed out Friday that Iranian state media has said a state official suggested the negotiations are no longer necessary, presumably because they know that Biden is most certainly not Trump and that the U.S. government is back in the appeasement business.

“The United States can return to the agreement and end lawbreaking just in the way that it pulled out of it and imposed illegal sanctions against Iran,” the Iranian official allegedly said, according to Rogan’s report.

A “huge mistake”

Rogan went on to write that originally, the Biden administration pledged to keep sanctions in place until “Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suspends his enrichment of uranium beyond purity caps imposed under the 2015 accord.”

While that pledge was made as recently in February, it now appears as if the Biden administration is backing down from that red line in a significant way — a move Rogan labeled as a “huge mistake,” as the powers of negotiation will now likely flip to Iran’s favor.

A report in The New York Times on Friday revealed that a Biden administration official said “the United States would not seek to retain some sanctions for leverage…arguing that the previous ‘maximum pressure’ campaign waged against Iran by the Trump administration had failed.”

“It’s not clear why Biden abandoned his previously prudent strategy,” Rogan wrote Friday. “But the shift in Biden’s position is obvious. Washington is even now begging the Chinese to persuade the Iranians to give some ground,” the columnist said, adding that Chinese officials are likely gleeful that America is asking for a favor that the communist nation won’t come through on.

Only time will tell how much Biden is willing to give up in order to score a few headlines about talking Iran into stepping down some uranium enrichment programs, but for now at least, America seems to have lost whatever bargaining power it had over the country while Trump was in office. What a shame.

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