No need for US to rush into new nuclear deal with Iran
The latest developments in US-Iran relations and the direction in which the incoming Raisi government will head must be considered. This will have a bearing on the possibility of the US Congress passing a bill that necessitates the disclosure of the total wealth of the Iranian regime. More significantly, many in the American body politic want the Biden administration to explain how it is representing them in the negotiations with Iran in Vienna. Basically, there is a growing political feeling in Washington that Iran is wielding more power than the US in the current state of affairs between the two nations.
What is revealing about the Biden administration’s contacts with the Iranians is that there has been no submission of a new US initiative to Tehran as a result of the June election of President-elect Ebrahim Raisi. There have also been occasional announcements that there are many difficulties surrounding the present negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program. With regard to this imperfect state of affairs between the US and Iran, any analyst would reasonably assume that the American government would not disclose the signing of a new nuclear agreement with Iran until just a few days before its final signature and conclusion.
Iran is badgering the US with so many demands. President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team don’t want the American public and the wider world to perceive the negotiations in Vienna as running on the narrow path of the US making concessions to the regime in Iran one after another. However, the White House will not be able to deny that any rapprochement with Iran will yield to a state of increased tensions and hyperbole, and that the language of any agreement with Iran will fail to clothe the Biden administration’s argument that Tehran will not gain more than the US. There could even be many Democrats who will doubt that future dealings with Iran will be the right path to take.
The current government in Iran is not revealing the whole truth about what is transpiring inside the country. Since 1979, the political regime in Iran has always told half-truths, and this is still the case. Raisi, who is due to take office on Aug. 5, is expected to continue the political tradition of obscuring the full truth regarding every issue that happens in Iran, from supporting terrorism to the water shortages in Ahwaz and its attempts to procure a nuclear weapon. Therefore, Iran will offer contradictions on every political subject and will continue to be antagonistic to most countries in the world.
The problem with the Biden administration’s approach is that it treats Tehran’s political regime as stable, even though that is far from the reality.
The Biden administration is insisting on reconciliation with Iran, while being fully cognizant of the fact there will never be any harmony in the national interests of the two countries. The primary motive for Biden and the Democrats to pursue a detente with Iran seems to be to do the opposite of what the Trump administration did. And what will inspire Raisi to act as president will be the political and autocratic will of the ayatollahs. He will not write a new chapter in Iran’s political life — he will continue the same old policies, perhaps with even more repression of ordinary Iranians. He has not made a single comment on the public discontent sweeping across Iran or the growing disobedience to the theocracy that is about to explode, particularly among the persecuted Arab population in southwestern Iran.
Will Iran soon be in a state of agitation? Most likely it will. This will further empower the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, turning it into an intimidating powerhouse that can trespass on the political turf of Iran’s new president. In other words, Iran will become a more militarized society, as public anger at the political regime intensifies.
The problem with the Biden administration’s approach is that it treats Tehran’s political regime as stable, even though that is far from the reality. Biden, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan cannot be silent forever on the questions directed to them about the stability of the Iranian regime. So far, they have not been able to articulate a defense as to why there is so much urgency and a rationale of again making Iran a powerful country.
Meanwhile, Republican Rep. French Hill and Democratic Rep. Al Lawson last week reintroduced the Holding Iranian Leaders Accountable Act, which — if passed — would give the Biden administration 60 days to inform Congress of leading Iranian officials’ estimated wealth and the sources of that wealth. The congressmen estimate the fortune of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei alone to be $95 billion. The bill also obligates the US intelligence community to declassify all the information it holds on the corrupt wealth of Iran’s rulers and the delinquent financial assets of their institutions.
Realistically, however, this bill will never become law. For one, the Biden administration will either ignore it or try to defeat it. In addition, it is extremely difficult to force American intelligence agencies to publicly announce what they know about issues such as the wealth of Iran’s leaders.
Ultimately, Iran will sign a new nuclear deal with the US because it needs the money. It will then immediately deceive the whole world by engaging in illicit nuclear activities. This shows that the quality of American influence on the world is declining.
• Maria Maalouf is a Lebanese journalist, broadcaster, publisher and writer. She holds an MA in Political Sociology from the University of Lyon. Twitter: @bilarakib