President Biden’s efforts to grant wide-ranging economic concessions to Iran’s regime during 2022 to temporarily stop Tehran’s alleged nuclear weapons program have been rebuffed by the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, experts say.
The waves of protesters opposed to Iran’s regime pouring into the streets, coupled with the clerical regime furnishing lethal drones to Russia in its war against Ukraine, tossed a wrench into the nuclear arms negotiating process for a White House eager to cut a deal with Tehran.
The nuclear agreement would provide Tehran “access to up to $275 billion in financial benefits during its first year in effect and $1 trillion by 2030,” according to one Washington D.C., think tank study.
The administration through its Iran envoy, Robert Malley, invested significant resources for most of 2022 in an attempt to reach an agreement by conducting indirect talks with Iran in Vienna and Doha. Those talks seemed to falter in September when Iran scoffed at a deal that was said to be agreed by all sides.
But Iran observers argue the White House also hadn’t bargained for an unexpected factor in those indirect discussions with the Iranians: the nationwide protests that would begin a few days after Iran turned its back on a deal in mid-September.
Fox News Digital conducted interviews with multiple Iranians in Iran via an encrypted line over the last few weeks, all rejecting the Iran nuclear accord because, they argue, it will mainstream Iran’s regime on the international stage and fill Tehran’s coffers with billions of dollars to terrorize the population.
Arash, who lives in the Iranian city of Isfahan and used a different name to protect himself from the regime’s security forces, told Fox News Digital that if he could speak with President Biden he would ask for the American “withdrawal of negotiations that the U.S. is holding with the Islamic Republic. Right now people of Iran are getting killed on the streets. This regime is an absolute dictatorship.”
He added, “When the Obama administration gave billions to the Islamic Republic [in the 2015 Iran nuclear deal], the Islamic Republic only used it to suppress people and fund terrorism.” said Arash, urging the international community to expel the ambassadors of the Islamic Republic.
Lisa Daftari, editor-in-chief of The Foreign Desk, told Fox News Digital, “While the Iran deal had major flaws and actually wasn’t moving forward because the United States couldn’t accept the mullahs’ absurd demands, the Iranian people and their protests over the last 100 days have been successful in at least pressuring the United States to create some distance.”
She noted, “The Biden administration has said that they will not be moving towards the deal right now, but they have stopped short of canceling negotiations altogether and moving toward supporting regime change, which is what the Iranian people want.”
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken last week criticized the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the nuclear accord saying, “And when the JCPOA, the Iran nuclear deal, was actually enforced, it did exactly what it was designed to do. It put Iran’s nuclear program in a box.” He added, without specificity, that the U.S. “will continue to look and act on ways to make sure that, one way or another, Iran does not acquire a nuclear weapon.
Then-President Trump withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018 because the agreement, according to his administration, did not stop the clerical regime from building a nuclear weapons device and permitted Tehran to fund terrorism.
Iran expert Alireza Nader told Fox News Digital, “The Biden administration and its Europeans counterparts are engaging in wishful thinking that a nuclear agreement can come through, and they won’t have to worry about the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. It shows how desperate the Biden administration is when it comes to the Islamic Republic. Biden does not have any ideas beyond nuclear negotiations.”
When asked if the Biden administration is wedded to an allegedly flawed nuclear deal at the expense of supporting pro-democracy protesters on the streets of Iran, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “The door for diplomacy will always remain open, but as of now, we don’t see a deal coming together anytime soon and it is not our focus.”
That same sentiment was shared by Secretary of State Blinken during his press conference last week.
In November, Iran’s nuclear chief said that the country had reached 60% enrichment of uranium at its Fordow enrichment plant, marking a dangerous step closer to the country’s goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. Weapons require 90% purity, but the level Iran has reached far exceeds its 20% produced prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, meaning the country far exceeded the 3.67% cap the deal had mandated.
Iran’s Surpreme Leader Khamenei further defied the Biden administration in 2022 by seeking to assassinate Iranian dissidents in the U.S. and across the world. Iran’s assassination operation targeted top officials from the Trump administration, including former U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, as well as former National Security Advisor John Bolton.
The U.S. government has, under both Democratic and Republican administrations, repeatedly classified Tehran as the worst international state-sponsor of terrorism. Iran’s rulers have advocated a “world without America…is attainable” and wish “Death to America.”
The regime’s efforts to kidnap the Iranian-American women’s rights campaigner and Voice of America journalist, Masih Alinejad, in Brooklyn, New York, added to Tehran’s alleged nefarious activities in 2022. Alinejad has waged a campaign over the years to secure freedom for women from the compulsory wearing of the hijab in the Islamic Republic.
Fox News Digital reported in March that the Biden administration offered to delist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization in exchange for Tehran’s agreement to rejoin the nuclear accord.
The deep concession to Iran’s regime sparked widespread outrage, because the IRGC is accused of being responsible for the murders of over 600 American military personnel in the Middle East.
After a public outcry and protests from 900 Gold Start family members, among others, the administration was forced to backpedal the concession to Iran. The interplay between the Iran nuclear deal and Khamenei’s funding of global terrorism has been a source of great criticism from opponents of the JCPOA.
Manda Zand Ervin, who former President George W. Bush appointed as the U.S. Delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women in 2008, noted that the billions of dollars the Obama administration funneled to Iran’s regime as part of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal went “to our enemies Hamas, Hezbollah and his [Khamenei’s] terrorist Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and others.”
Iranian-Americans and Iranians within the country, who have long championed an Iran free from the mullahs who rule with an iron fist, have placed question marks over Biden’s human rights promises.
Blinken announced in March 2021 that “President Biden has committed to putting human rights back at the center of American foreign policy, and that’s a commitment that I and the entire the Department of State take very seriously.”
Iran expert, Nader said the White House “never had a plan B. Even though the Iranians are trying to overthrow the Islamic Republic, the Biden administration is not doing very much to help them.”
The Islamic Republic has been engulfed by protests since the nation’s infamous morality police allegedly tortured and killed the 22-year-old Mahsa Amini in September for not complying with the country’s hijab law.
The founder of the Islamic Republic, Ruhollah Khomeini, brought about a radical Islamic revolution in 1979 that toppled the pro-American Pahlavi monarchy. Khomeini’s regime swiftly enforced the segregation of genders and imposed the forced hijab, or headscarf, on women.
When asked if the Biden administration will impose new sanctions targeting Iran’s regime, a State Department spokesman told Fox News Digital, “Robust U.S. sanctions remain in place, and we will continue to vigorously enforce them. We continue to coordinate with a wide range of international partners to respond to Iran’s state-sponsored violence against women and the government’s ongoing, violent crackdown on peaceful protesters.”
Mojtaba Babaei, a spokesperson for the Iran Mission at the United Nations, told Fox News Digital, “Based on the statements of the U.S. State Department spokesperson that you mentioned, Iran’s Mission at U.N. takes the following position: There’s no new policy here. For the past four decades, the U.S. has maintained a hostile policy towards Iran, and this policy has been implemented as much as their capacity and capabilities permit.”
Tina Ghazimorad, the editor-in-chief of news at the London-based Manoto Farsi language TV channel, told Fox News Digital, “What is immediately required is for the West to seriously dismantle the financial operations of the regime and its cronies in the West, not meaningless sanctions that can’t be implemented. What is needed most, is for the regime to be hit in the pocket, only then concessions inside Iran will follow.”
She added, “The crackdown is incredibly brutal. The most peaceful, most harmless acts even gestures, can result in the most dire consequences. Even innocent bystanders, women, elderly, and children are not spared. In such an atmosphere it’s only the courage and the creativity of the Iranian youth that is keeping the protests going. It is important that the momentum continues, but some tangible results are needed otherwise fatigue can set in.”
In November, Fox News Digital reported that Iran’s regime furnished Russia with over 3,500 drones to prosecute its illegal war against Ukraine. The Biden administration’s willingness to work with Putin’s regime to secure a nuclear deal with Iran remains highly controversial.
Zand Ervin, the author of “The Ladies’ Secret Society: History of the Courageous Women of Iran,” said “While the [Biden] administration has been supporting Ukraine, Khamenei is giving drones to his friend Putin and yet President Biden is still talking about negotiations, with Putin as the middleman with Khamenei.”
Russia is one of the world powers at the negotiating table in Vienna along with the U.S., France, Germany, the EU and China working to revive the Iran atomic deal.
A U.S. State Department spokesperson told Fox News Digital, “Iran is killing its young people and selling [unmanned aerial vehicles] to Russia to kill Ukrainians. Our focus is on practical ways to confront them in these areas.”
The organization United Against a Nuclear Iran (UANI) said amid Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s visit to the White House last week, there is a “need to tackle the arms proliferation pipeline between Russia and Iran.”
UANI stressed that “the increased cooperation between Moscow and Tehran is made possible by the expiration of the international arms embargo against Iran prescribed by the JCPOA. Russia and China blocked U.S. efforts under the Trump administration to extend the arms embargo.”
With the waves of massive protests across Iran now entering the fourth month of upheaval, experts see a continuation of the revolutionary energy against Khamenei’s system. It appears that the Iranian people who are protesting for the dissolution of the Islamic Republic have temporarily stopped the nuclear deal in its tracks.
Beni Sabti, an expert on Iran from the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security told Fox News Digital that he believes “The protests will go on until at least the new Iranian New Year, Nowruz, in March because there are many days of celebrations of the revolution. They will use this to confront the regime and embarrass the regime. “
Sabti, who was advisor for the popular Israeli espionage series “Tehran,” added that Iranian protesters forced the “Biden administration to neglect the JCPOA and put more sanctions on Iran” and its propaganda media outlets.” Sabti noted the Iranian demonstrators are “encouraged” when the U.S sanctions the propaganda of the regime. “If there is no propaganda, the regime cannot exist,” he said.
However, Sabti continued that “Biden still wants to go back to negotiations” with Iran but “Biden can’t ignore the protests and executions.”
Looking ahead to the new year, Iran expert Lisa Daftari concluded that, “More than anything, Iranian protesters, and those who support them around the world, are hoping that in 2023 there will be more awareness, and more importantly, more public support of their movement. If we are able to cut the tentacles of the Iran regime throughout the Middle East and its support of terror, proxies, it’ll be beneficial for the entire region and world.”
Fox News’ Peter Aitken contributed to this article.