We were mystified by President Biden’s statement on Iran following his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last Friday, which reportedly focused heavily on Iran’s quest for a nuclear weapons capacity. The President spoke of “our commitment to ensure Iran never develops a nuclear weapon” and that “we’re putting diplomacy first and seeing where that takes us But if diplomacy fails, we’re ready to turn to other options.”
However, the president’s remarks came at a time when Iran is refusing to return to negotiations over returning to the 2015 nuclear deal that was supposed to restrict Iran’s enrichment of uranium, and is reportedly now a mere two months away from a nuclear breakout.
A month ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken cautioned that the Iran negotiating process could not be allowed to drift indefinitely. He reasoned that “at some point the gains achieved by the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan Of Action) cannot be recovered if Iran continues the activities that it’s undertaken with regard to its nuclear program.”
This was followed two days later by an ominous comment from Robert Malley, the lead U.S. negotiator on the Iran nuclear issue. He noted that Iranians are learning so much from the work now underway that the near future it may be impossible to return to the old accords. “At that point,” he said, “we will have to reassess the way forward.”
So what’s changed Mr. President? Why is there suddenly the luxury of enough time to indulge another round of Iranian recalcitrance?