Despite Iran Being on Threshold of Nuclear Weapon, Biden Appears To Be Blocking Attempts To Censure Tehran

‘When even the Europeans are saying that the U.S. is soft on Iran, we have a problem,’ the policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, tells the Sun.

Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
President Biden on April 18, 2024, at Philadelphia. Drew Hallowell/Getty Images

Is President Biden blocking a European initiative aimed at amping up the pressure on the Islamic Republic of Iran, even as Tehran inches ever closer to becoming a nuclear armed power?

A United Nations nuclear watchdog reports that the Islamic Republic is nearing the point of possessing a bomb, and that it is in effect already a threshold nuclear state. The International Atomic Energy Agency reported Monday that in the three months before May 11, Iran added to its nuclear stockpiles more than 20 kilograms of uranium enriched to 60 percent purity, which is one step away from bomb level.

By now the Islamic Republic possesses more than 142 kilograms of uranium enriched to the 60 percent level, the IAEA reports. While all eyes are on Gaza, Iran is amassing enough enriched uranium that in a matter of days could be converted to fuel at least three nuclear devices. 

In background conversations with the Sun, European diplomats have long complained that Americans were blocking attempts to censure Iran at the IAEA board of governors. On Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported that Washington is “arguing against an effort by Britain and France to censure Iran” during an upcoming IAEA board meeting, scheduled for early next month.

With the world’s attention on the Gaza war between Israel and Tehran-backed Hamas, the Iranian nuclear issue is increasingly demoted to a secondary position on America’s agenda. Mr. Biden’s top Mideast adviser, Brett McGurk, and Iran coordinator, Abram Paley, traveled to Oman in mid-May for talks with Iranian counterparts over “regional issues.” The White House declined to provide details on what, if anything, they achieved, or whether nuclear issues were even discussed. 

The Biden administration is trying to convince European partners that “managing the Iranian nuclear file, rather than solving the problem, is the way to go,” an Iran watcher at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Behnam Ben Taleblu, tells the Sun. Yet, he adds, “they can’t even manage the problem well, because they believe that pressure is counterproductive.”

An IAEA censure resolution could lead to a “snapback” at the UN Security Council, and a revival of all sanctions that existed before the Obama administration orchestrated the 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the FDD’s CEO, Mark Dubowitz, told the Journal.  

President Trump left the JCPOA in 2018, after which he triggered the Security Council’s “snapback.” The mechanism was designed to automatically revive global sanctions that had existed prior to 2015. Yet, Europeans joined Russia and Communist China in arguing that though each member of the original nuclear deal could trigger the snapback option unilaterally, the Trump administration had no standing to do so.

As he was running for president in 2020, Mr. Biden vowed to revive the JCPOA. Yet, even as American-led negotiations at Vienna and elsewhere failed to renew the deal, the three eligible European countries — Britain, France, and Germany — declined to trigger the snapback.

Diplomats at the UN told the Sun that America was uninterested in pressuring European partners either, as a snapback would kill any prospect of reviving the nuclear deal. Now, as the Journal reports, the Europeans seem more concerned than Washington about the Iranian nuclear progress.

“When even the Europeans are saying that the U.S. is soft on Iran, we have a problem,” the policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran, Jason Brodsky, tells the Sun. 

Pushing back, unidentified Washington officials told the Journal that Europe can do more to pressure Iran, including by blocking bank accounts on the Continent and listing the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist organization. 

Washington officials have long argued that Iran’s nuclear advances were caused by Mr. Trump’s decision to leave the JCPOA. “That’s a tired argument,” Mr. Brodsky says. “At some point you have to take ownership. The Biden administration’s Iran policy has been a train wreck from day one.” 

As the nuclear issue drifts along, London and Paris are calling for an IAEA censure that could lead to an eventual return of UN-mandated global-wide sanctions on Iran. Not so Washington. Perhaps Mr. Biden is unwilling to make waves before November. Yet, his approach to Iran has changed little since assuming office. 

“If the administration is unwilling to even levy diplomatic pressure at a multilateral organization, in concert with America’s partners, serious questions arise over its ability to stop a nuclear rising Iran,” Mr. Ben Taleblu says.

The New York Sun

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