The Facts About President Biden and the JCPOA

March 22, 2021

Israel’s intelligence and security community supported the JCPOA and supports re-entry:
Some of the experts most aware of the security threat that a nuclear-armed Iran would pose to Israel are former generals, Mossad chiefs, and Shin Bet heads – who came out in strong support of the JCPOA. In January 2016, Israel’s Chief of the General Staff, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot said that the JCPOA “is a historic turning point. It is a big change in terms of the direction that Iran was headed, and in the way that we saw things…This is a strategic turning point.” There is still “strong support for the JCPOA in the Israeli defense community,” including from former IDF Chiefs of Staff. 

President Biden is dedicated to Israel’s security:
As Vice President, Biden helped ensure unwavering support for Israel’s security. During the Obama-Biden Administration, he was a key advocate in securing support for lifesaving technologies like the Iron Dome, David’s Sling, and Arrow 3 anti-rocket and missile defense systems. Biden helped shape the unprecedented $38 billion, 10-year, Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Israel signed in 2016, the largest such military aid package in U.S. history. When Hamas attacked Israel, Biden made key calls to get an emergency appropriations bill through Congress to replenish Iron Dome defensive missiles. Both President Biden and Secretary Blinken have reiterated their steadfast support of Israel’s security and commitment to including Israel in strategic actions on Iran since taking office.

President Biden is committed to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon:
The Obama-Biden Administration imposed crippling multilateral sanctions, which brought Iran to negotiations, paving the way for the JCPOA that prevented a nuclear-armed Iran. In the process, Vice President Biden worked tirelessly to ensure the deal was strong and would prevent Iran from being able to obtain a nuclear weapon. 

The Biden Administration will only re-enter the JCPOA if it benefits U.S. security interests:
The Biden Administration has signaled an openness to re-engage in direct talks with the Iranians, but is putting U.S. national security interests ahead of anything else. In fact, the Iranians have demanded unilateral sanctions relief as a prerequisite for restarting talks, but that approach has been rejected by the Biden Administration. Department of State Spokesperson Ned Price reiterated that “if and only if Tehran comes to the negotiating table would we be in a position, would we be prepared to discuss proposals that could help push both sides back on that path of mutual compliance to the deal.” Secretary of State Blinken has assured Congress that the administration will not make any concessions to the Iranians just to get a meeting and will not lift sanctions until Iran returns to full compliance.

The best way to address all of Iran’s malign activities is to first address the nuclear issue and then proceed with follow-on negotiations on the other issues:
President Biden’s effort to explore diplomatic options to ‘lengthen and strengthen’ the JCPOA in order to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons is the most pressing matter and should be dealt with as such. America’s number one priority should be to ensure that Iran does not acquire even one nuclear weapon. Furthermore, the only way that America will curb Iran’s other nefarious activities, including missile testing and proliferation, support for terrorism, and other destabilizing activities in the region is by engaging with Iran diplomatically and showing the rest of the world that the U.S. is serious about pursuing multilateral diplomacy to solve problems. An “all or nothing” approach that insists Iran change its behavior in every area of contention, nuclear and non-nuclear, cannot be negotiated in less time that it will take Iran to acquire nuclear weapons no matter how many sanction we impose and will leave us not with “all,” but with “nothing.”

The U.S. never paid Iran to enter into the initial JCPOA:
With an easing of sanctions, the U.S. gave Iran access to its own money. It was not a payment from the U.S., and the amount of sanctions relief came to about $50 billion (the $1.7 billion additional payment we sometimes hear about was to settle unrelated litigation with Iran, and that payment saved U.S. taxpayers money). Giving Iran access to its own money in return for Iran blocking all of its paths to a nuclear weapon was a good deal and, had Trump not withdrawn from the deal, put us in a better position to address Iran’s other malign activities without the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran hanging over us.