Last week was a turbulent week for Iran-US relations. Relations between the United States and the Iranian government have undergone changes. The most sensitive issue on the table right now is the debate over the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Will this ultimate path come to an end? And what impact will it have on the relationship between the United States and the Iranian government?
As far as the US government as a whole is concerned, from US President Joe Biden to the White House spokesperson to the US Secretary of State, all of them have the same word. They spoke from a specific device. They do this deliberately because they do not want the Iranian government to gain a political concession or make a wrong analysis. The United States has made it very clear that the United States will not enter into negotiations with Iran unless the Iranian government returns to its commitments to the JCPOA and fully complies with the 2015 nuclear deal.
On the other hand, we saw that Iranian government officials also make hopeless maneuvers this week. From Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to President Hassan Rouhani and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, everyone entered the scene. This shows that the reality of the scene is much heavier for Tehran than for the United States. More importantly, the US Congress made its final say. The Biden administration cannot return to a new nuclear deal with Iran without the consent of the US Congress.
Registration of the resolution of the US Congress
Two things happened last week. One letter was sent to the White House by 120 US representatives on the nuclear issue and the Iranian government’s nuclear threat. They clarified their demands and position for the White House. On the other hand, was US House Resolution 118, which included not only the issue of the nuclear threat but also the US policy as a whole, dealing with the threat of terrorism and human rights abuses in Iran, and more importantly, defending a secular, non-nuclear democratic Iran. And that the Congress insists on Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi’s 10-point plan. This was put on the White House’s table by Resolution 118.
The position of Senator Robert Menendez, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was crucial. The importance of this senator’s position is due to the fact that Senator Menendez will be the decisive senator in the coming months in terms of politics and US foreign relations. He said that he supports a diplomatic solution to the Iranian regime’s nuclear program that is both longer-term and stronger than previous commitments. This position was not only a threat to the Iranian government, but also a warning to the White House. That is, any political debate and political line on negotiations with Iran must go beyond the orbit defined by Senator Menendez, otherwise it will face a fundamental problem in Congress.
Khamenei in a deadlock
The government in Tehran is in an unsolvable impasse. It cannot make an escape for itself. When Zarif tried to return to the JCPOA at the same time last week, the government does not seem to have any interest in resolving this impasse. And they are emphasizing of their position and this is because of Iran’s behavior.
Look at the actions of the Iranian government last week. It announced it would continue atomic enrichment and produce uranium metal. They immediately heard the US position. Khamenei thinks that with the policy of intimidation and blackmail, he will put the United States in trouble and force the United States to return to the negotiating table. But America stands firm. In Biden’s interview with CBS, he heard Biden’s position firmly. All this sends a deadly message to Khamenei. For the political apparatus for which he had prepared himself. Now this policy has failed. All of this causes tensions within the government and the faction war will rise.
Will Khamenei stop blackmailing?
For the past four years, the Iranian government has been under Donald Trump’s policy of ‘maximum pressure’. By using the anti-Trump atmosphere, Khamenei tried to turn the atmosphere in his favor and show himself to be oppressed and portray his regime as a victim of a wrong American policy. He was trying to make some opportunities for himself. He expected that when the Biden government should come, a number of opportunities and privileges would be on the way. But what the Iranian government has been doing since December is that it fears that Biden’s political apparatus will not prioritize Iran. He tried to put himself at the forefront of US policy by pursuing a policy of threatening by capturing a South Korea ship, increasing enrichment to 20 percent, threatening to build an atomic bomb by Iran’s intelligence minister Mahmoud Alavi. But the US response even in the last State Department briefing on Friday was that they do not have a deadline. They do not have a specific schedule. Now the ball is in Iran’s court.
But the Iranian government does not shy away from extortion. They think this is the only way out. Because the pressure of the people and the pressure of the explosive society inside the country and the growth and victories of the resistance abroad have sounded such a death knell for Khamenei that he has been horrified. If these puzzles are put together, it turns out that the government is at a dead end and will not get any points.
Why does Khamenei insist on threatening politics?
Abbas Araghchi, Deputy Foreign Minister of Iran, said: “If the sanctions are not lifted before February 21, we have no choice but to implement the decision that has been made, referring to the deadline set by parliament. In this way, we can stop the Additional Protocol, and this means that the number of international inspectors in Iran will be reduced.”
This means that they will not back down from the policy of intimidation. Khamenei wants to prove the policy of threatening its survival.
The reason for insisting on the threat policy is rooted in the internal situation of the Iranian government. Widespread social discontent, the role of the Resistance Units of the domestic opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI or MEK).
Looking at this situation, Khamenei sees nothing in the future but destruction and overthrow. So, he wants to use these levers. The lever of intimidation or ransom or nuclear threat, the lever of terrorism, most of all the lever of repression.
Therefore, he cannot lose these levers. Several times this, a debate took place within the government. Several times Khamenei entered the scene, openly saying that he was not willing to give up the levers that kept his regime afloat. Khamenei cannot back down from the levers of repression, executions, arrests, and torture.
What will Biden’s America do?
Biden has repeatedly stated that he will not allow the regime to acquire an atomic bomb. When they talk about new negotiations, they say stronger and longer. They know that the 2015 JCPOA was a weak JCPOA and if they return to the negotiating table, it will have a stronger and longer JCPOA. Biden has said several times that I am ready to defend the United States and my allies.
This is a warning to the regime. It is clear to the Biden administration that the maximum pressure exerted on the Iranian government during the Trump era has provided the Biden administration good opportunities, which are the sanctions. In other words, they see the regime at its weakest point. This is what they are arranging with Tehran.
“Today, the enemy is trying to get the maximum points for what it has not been able to achieve with maximum pressure, with a minimum reduction,” Saeed Jalili, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said.
The need for decisive policy
This is a process that the Biden government has sufficient authority over. In the last five years, one thing has been specified in the US government’s policy for those who were at the US negotiating table with the regime during the 2015 JCPOA, and who are now in office. The government of Tehran understand one think and that is the decisive policy.
Out of all the political compliments they make to each other, they know that a decisive policy is the answer to the Iranian government. If during the Trump era, when the maximum pressure policy was used against the regime, the regime wanted to attract the press by showing itself the oppressed and using the anti-Trump atmosphere, now that lever is no longer in Iran’s hands. Now the picture is much, much brighter. And for Biden’s government in particular, this picture is very clear.