US Secretary of State Blinken, when discussing if Iran will return to the Obama-era nuclear deal with CBS News’ “Face the Nation” program host Margaret Brennan that:
“We were also looking at, as necessary, other options if Iran is not prepared to engage quickly in good faith to pick up where we left off in June when these talks were interrupted by the change in government in Iran, and to see if we can get back to mutual compliance – both countries coming back into the agreement as quickly as possible,”
When she asked if “other options” meant war with Iran, Blinken wouldn’t rule it out. Instead, he responded by saying “As we always say, every option is on the table.” He did, however, state that “We still believe diplomacy is the best path forward for putting the nuclear program back in the box it had been in under the agreement – the so-called JCPOA.”
Blinken then added that:
“Iran, unfortunately, is moving forward aggressively with its program. The time it would take for it to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear weapon is getting shorter and shorter.”
“The other thing that’s getting shorter is the runway we have where if we do get back into compliance with the agreement and Iran gets back in compliance, we actually recapture all of the benefits of the agreement. Iran is learning enough, doing enough so that that’s starting to be a problem.”
You can watch him here:
IRAN DEAL LATEST: Secretary of State @SecBlinken doesn't rule out military action if Iran "is not prepared to engage quickly in good faith" when it comes to the JCPOA nuclear deal.
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) October 31, 2021
President Donald Trump withdrew from the Iran agreement in 2018, reimposing sanctions on the nation and claiming that it had broken the agreement by building more centrifuges and enriching more uranium than was allowed under the JCPOA. Many thought the agreement was a bad one from the start, claiming that it allowed Iran to focus on building up its rocket arsenal and arming regional terrorist groups like Hamas, the Houthis, and Hezbollah, while still preserving an ability to build a nuclear bomb relatively quickly if it so desired. The Federalist, for example, noted that:
Since the deal, Iran has ramped up its nuclear ambitions and used the billions of dollars of sanctions relief it received to bankroll its terrorist proxies and fuel regional instability. Now, Joe Biden promises to repeat the same mistakes by re-entering the nuclear deal…
The Biden Administration, however, seems ready to jump back into the agreement with both feet. That would likely prove disastrous. As Lindsey Graham wrote in Foreign Policy:
last week, the Wall Street Journal reported the Biden administration is considering lifting terrorism-related sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran. In other words, after promising in congressional testimony for a longer and stronger deal with Iran, Biden’s diplomatic team is instead rushing toward accommodation. Although returning to the JCPOA will not happen overnight, it could easily happen this year. And if Biden returns the United States to a JCPOA 2.0, it could reverse positive momentum in the Middle East by destabilizing the peaceful balance of power Biden inherited.
The JCPOA infused Iran with cash. Right before the United States reimposed sanctions in 2018, Iran’s central bank controlled more than $120 billion in foreign exchange reserves. U.S. sanctions locked tens of those billions away in escrow accounts, and financial pressure forced Iran to draw down the accounts that remained open. After only two years of the maximum pressure campaign, Iran was down to a meager $4 billion in reserves. Meanwhile, U.S. energy sanctions cut Iran’s oil exports by more than 2 million barrels per day, depriving the regime of $70 billion that typically funds its budget.
By trashing Trump-era policies without developing suitable alternatives, Team Biden has backed itself into a corner.
On one hand, returning to the deal might appease the party’s Israel-haters and give President Biden a singular accomplishment, but, as Senator Graham noted, it would also give billions of dollars to the mullahs that they could use to sow chaos in the region, which would look bad for Biden.
Another option, the probable best, would be a return to a Trump-era “maximum pressure” campaign that targets the resources of the mullahs without resorting to open war. Because of the Biden Administration’s hostility to anything done by Trump, a return to that pressure campaign is unlikely.
The other option of note, war, is now apparently back on the table, effectively giving Biden a choice between a Chamberlain-like “peace in our times” deal with the mullahs or yet another Democrat war that will drain America of blood and treasure.