Just days after the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, presumed President-elect Joe Biden reiterated his goal of rejoining the flawed nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic.
In a CNN article written in September, Biden previously stated, “If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the United States would rejoin the agreement as a starting point for follow-on negotiations. With our allies, we will work to strengthen and extend the nuclear deal’s provisions, while also addressing other issues of concern.”
Those issues include “precision missiles and all range of other things that are destabilizing the region,” Biden said in a December 2 interview with The New York Times.
If anything, Fakhrizadeh’s assassination highlights the fact that Iran has never complied with the original agreement made by former U.S. President Barack Obama in 2015 – and the fact that it was never forced to, even though its noncompliance was well documented.
One of the most salient features of any new agreement would have to address that issue and guarantee that any future non-compliance is impossible.
This needs to be taken into account in light of the consequences of Fakhrizadeh’s death.
Fakhrizadeh, who was known as the “father of the Iranian nuclear weapons program” was gunned down November 27 outside of Tehran in a reportedly elaborate operation, the details of which are still unclear.
Official sources in Iran – which are usually either silent about such occurrences (including immediately shutting down the internet) or outright deny them – made the unprecedented move of reporting Fakhrizadeh’s death, complete with pictures and videos, within 30 minutes of the attack.
While consistently blaming Israel for the hit (with possible backup by the CIA), Iran has since issued numerous contradictory statements about the operation, leading some to speculate that it was an inside job.
While the assassination has all the hallmarks of the Israeli spy agency Mossad (which has been credited with assassinating at least four of Iran’s top nuclear scientists in the past), the assassination gives Iran an advantage in any upcoming negotiations with the Biden administration – from exacting concessions and/or compensation as the “aggrieved party” to pressuring the U.S. to lift President Trump’s crippling economic sanctions in exchange for not retaliating against Israel.
Moreover, in what should be the biggest issue in any future negotiations – guaranteed compliance – getting rid of Fakhrizadeh solves a big problem of the regime being forced to answer for its flagrant contraventions of the existing deal.
“Without committing to any of the possible scenarios, there are definite advantages for the regime from Fakhrizadeh’s death. One is that if the Islamic Republic is keen to get back to renegotiating the nuclear deal, given the possibility of a new administration in the United States, they no longer have to worry about a precondition of letting the IAEA interview Fakhrizadeh,” writes Iranian-born Potkin Azarmehr, a senior fellow at the Investigative Project for Terrorism.
Iran is also well aware that any retaliation against Israel or the U.S. would likely be met with a devastating blow, including the possibility of Trump bombing Iran’s current nuclear facilities, including its prize underground installation at Natanz, which can be destroyed only by American massive ordnance penetrators (MOPs).
As Clarion Project has noted, due to its unremitting campaign of harsh economic sanctions, the Trump administration is handing over a severely weakened Iran to Biden. Giving up that leverage by falling for Iran’s claims of victimhood would not only be foolish but perilous for the world.
Fakhrizadeh was no saint, nor are his handlers. As the founder of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, called Amad, he was charged with making deadly weapons for the Iranian regime, whose (first) expressed purpose for them was to wipe Israel and all its Jewish citizens off the face of the earth.
He was also a general in Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, a designated terrorist organization by the U.S.
After the Iranian regime professed that the Amad program was officially ended and that their aspirations for nuclear energy were only for peaceful purposes, Fakhrizadeh led Iran’s clandestine Organization for Defensive Innovation and Research (SPND) beginning in 2011.
The existence of the SPND was known to Obama at least a year before he inked the nuclear deal. Moreover, the deal itself contained two secret clauses that virtually negated Iran’s compliance with the deal. In addition, during negotiations, Iran managed to gut the deal in 10 significant ways as well as get the West to agree to allow Iran to use its own inspectors in sites suspected of developing nuclear materials for military use.
It is important to remember that the 2015 agreement favored so highly by the Obama-Biden administration was never meant to deny Iran a nuclear weapon, but only to postpone it for 10 years at which time the agreement expires.
In those five years, not only has Iran been brought to the brink of economic collapse by the Trump administration’s sanctions, the Middle East is a significantly different and less volatile neighborhood due to the newly made Abraham Accords, which essentially unite the Gulf countries and Israel against Iran.
Not only have Israel and Saudi Arabia sent messages to the United States to dissuade the new administration from reentering any agreements with Iran, but the Lebanese people have also done so as well.
Hezbollah, Iran’s proxy in Lebanon, essentially holds the country hostage with their 20,000-strong militia, whose power far surpasses Lebanon’s army. Any agreement with Iran necessarily frees up money for Hezbollah, as well as Iran’s other worldwide terror pursuits.
Let us hope that Biden does not fall into the trap that his former boss did.