The Biden Appeasement of Iran

Could it be that the habitually squishy Europeans are now more hawkish than our doves?

AP/Alastair Grant
The Director General of the Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Marino Grossi, at London, February 7, 2023. AP/Alastair Grant

We did a double take the other day when we saw a Wall Street Journal headline. The top part of the headline — “U.S., Europe Split on Response to Iran’s Near-Weapons-Grade Nuclear Enrichment” — is perfectly prosaic. The sub-hed — “Washington is reluctant to publicly censure Iran at the IAEA next week” — is what got our attention. Could it be that the habitually squishy Europeans are now more hawkish than our doves?    

At issue is a recent discovery, made by inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency, of uranium particles enriched to a level just shy of the 90 percent needed for fueling a nuclear weapon. The find, leaked to the press last week ahead of the release of the agency’s official report, indicates a major escalation in the Islamic Republic’s violations of the Articles of Appeasement struck by the Obama administration. 

The IAEA board of governors is scheduled to meet early next week, and Britain, France, and Germany are pushing a resolution to censure Iran over its violations. Communist China, Russia, and a few other Tehran-friendly board members will push back. But America? Our diplomats seem “reluctant,” as the Journal puts it, to offend Iran even as it blatantly races to become a nuclear power. A reluctance to offend is a classic appeasement trait.

When President Biden entered office, the Islamic Republic couldn’t, or wouldn’t, enrich uranium to above the five percent level. They were long months, or more, away from amassing enough fuel for a bomb. Now they are there, even as “our policy toward Iran is that Iran will never acquire a nuclear weapon,” as the state department’s spokesman, Ned Price, said this week. That’s a worthy goal, but what to do?

“We continue to believe that the most effective way to do that is through diplomacy,” Mr. Price added. “Only diplomacy can achieve a durable, permanent solution whereby Iran is never in a position to acquire a nuclear weapon.” Isn’t a mild rebuke, well, a part of genuine diplomacy? We “consult very closely with our partners,” Mr. Price said. As yet, no administration official refuted the Journal’s report on the nature of that consultation. 

The IAEA chief, Rafael Grossi, landed at Tehran on March 3 for talks with the mullahs. He is expected to confer with President Raisi, who is better known for his past role as a hanging judge than for an understanding of nuclear nuance. We expect no breakthrough in the agency’s ability to effectively unveil Iran’s deeply-dug nuclear secrets. So Tehran’s concealing, obfuscating, and cheating certainly deserve a rebuke — at minimum.

Yet, following a similar censure last November, Iran only accelerated its nuclear program. Why doesn’t one of the three European powers, instead, take the matter directly to the United Nations Security Council? There, any of them can unilaterally declare Iran in “material breach” of the nuclear deal and start a “snapback” process to officially nullify the ineffective deal and restore all pre-2015 international sanctions and restrictions. 

Better yet, even some Bidenties may by now recognize the futility of talks. “Biden has said three things over and over and over again,” the American ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, said Friday: “We are not going to stand by and let Iran get a nuclear weapon. Obviously we do not tie Israel’s hands to defend itself. We have Israel’s back.” A non-diplomatic solution is past due. Menachem Begin consulted no one outside of his inner cabinet, explaining: “Never again.”

The New York Sun

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