New York Daily News
Biden’s Tehran tightrope
This is not Barack Obama’s third term, Joe Biden has made clear. He can prove it by refusing to rush back into the nuclear deal with Iran without ironclad guarantees from Tehran. Bottom line for America: Iran cannot get the bomb. It was a mistake when Obama, the European Union and five nations signed the too-lenient Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in 2015; the agreement missed countless opportunities to check the mullahs’ destabilizing activities. It was a mistake, too, when Donald Trump withdrew from the deal without any better plan, piling punishing sanctions on the socalled Islamic Republic’s economy while increasing the chances that they’d rush to nuclear breakout.
A third wrong wouldn’t make a right: Biden’s concurrence Tuesday with Iran to reenter the JCPOA must include intelligent, enforceable conditions that limit Tehran’s mischief.
The ayatollahs — who’ve called Israel a “cancerous tumor” to be destroyed, funded destabilizing terrorism throughout the Mideast and around the world, and facilitated the March attack on a U.S. airbase in Iraq — are desperate to get American sanctions lifted to boost their suffering economy. Biden rightly wants to rein in Iran’s nuclear plans, which have predictably escalated since Trump’s impulsive pullout effectively broke the deal.
To ease the economic straitjacket and return the U.S. to the JCPOA on a mere trust-us commitment that Iran will dial back its nuclear enrichment, rather than on verifiable proof that they have done so, would be dangerous folly. Biden instead must retain the leverage he has lucked into and pave a path to sanctions relief, step by step, based on demonstrated compliance with denuclearization and other good behavior.
Flawed though it is, it’s ultimately better to have Iran in the nuclear deal than outside it. Inside, Tehran commits to limiting its enrichment activities, with a strict international inspection and verification regime. But how we get from here to there matters. Trump’s reflexive anti-Obamaism led to countless unforced errors. Biden must not let his reflexive anti-Trumpism do the same.