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THE IRAN-RUSSIA NUCLEAR NEXUS: Will Team Biden give Moscow relief to help save a flawed Iran deal?

STOPIRANNOW Via The Wall Street Journal

By: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Board


The U.S. and Europe are trying to stop Russia’s bloody conquest of Ukraine, but at the same time they are relying on Russia to help revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. No wonder Russia feels emboldened to call for even more capitulation from the West.

“We have asked for a written guarantee . . . that the current process triggered by the United States does not in any way damage our right to free and full trade, economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with the Islamic State,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Saturday.

The world’s rogue regimes are increasingly working together, and here Russia is trying to leverage Iran for relief from the sanctions imposed over Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. Mr. Lavrov’s demand points to the fundamental absurdity of this process: Iranian officials have refused to speak with Americans directly, and Russia has played a central role as a mediator since negotiations began last year in Vienna.

The Biden Administration claims there’s no linkage between Iran and Ukraine sanctions. “The new Russia-related sanctions are unrelated to the JCPOA and should not have any impact on its potential implementation,” a State Department spokesman said on Saturday. “We continue to engage with Russia on a return to full implementation of the JCPOA. Russia shares a common interest in ensuring Iran never acquires a nuclear weapon.”

A common interest? Russia has worked to help Iran evade sanctions, and you can bet Iran will help Russia do the same.

This triumph of hope over reality has been a consistent theme in the Obama-Biden approach to Iran. The 2015 accord provided Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief in exchange for temporarily slowing nuclear development. Obama officials hoped this would moderate Iran’s behavior abroad. But the deal didn’t stop the country’s missile development or support for terrorism, both of which the Islamic Republic pursued with a vengeance after 2015.

Donald Trump left the deal in 2018 and pursued a “maximum pressure” sanctions campaign. Iran began openly violating the deal and gaining irreversible nuclear knowledge—gains that have made the old deal increasingly irrelevant. The Trump Administration also imposed sanctions related to Iran’s terror support, and leaks to the media suggest the Biden Administration is willing to lift both those and the nuclear sanctions to get a renewed deal.

The 2015 deal was also based on the assumption that the West had a full accounting of Iran’s nuclear program, but the regime has stonewalled the International Atomic Energy Agency. On Saturday the United Nations agency and Tehran announced a plan to clear up questions about undeclared nuclear sites, but IAEA chief Rafael Grossi suggested the issues ultimately might not be resolved. Iranian military sites are still likely to be off-limits to inspectors in a new deal.

Why the U.S. desperation? Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on “Face the Nation” that it wants to put Iran’s nuclear program “back in the box,” but it’s a box made of cardboard. Even if Iran abides by the deal again, its provisions already have started to expire and by 2031 Tehran will be able to freely produce and stockpile weapons-grade uranium.

A new deal will also shower Iran with tens of billions of dollars to stir mayhem in the Middle East. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg suggested last week that “all options are on the table” when asked whether the U.S. could purchase Iranian oil. Brilliant: Impose sanctions on Russia—then support Russian ally Iran. Venezuela could be next.

No agreement will stop Iran from its determination to become a nuclear power, and Russia won’t enforce the deal. The two malign powers will work together to harm U.S. interests around the world.

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