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The Iran Hawks’ Bad Faith Comes Back to Bite Them

Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom

Tyler Cullis urges the incoming Biden administration not to fall for the “sanctions wall” trap being set by Iran hawks:

The so-called “flood” of sanctions being prepared in the coming weeks is more of the same. These sanctions are not designed to change Iran’s behavior or to deter it from conduct anathema to U.S. interests. Instead, the whole point of the sanctions is to set a trap for the Biden administration.

The Biden administration would do well not to fall into this trap. Absent immediate steps to undo the damage wrought by Trump and reinvigorate the JCPOA through a compliance-for-compliance agreement with Iran, President Biden will face the same crisis that prevailed in the lead-up to the JCPOA where Iran’s nuclear program built in step with U.S. sanctions.

Iran hawks in and outside the Trump administration have been explicit that their goal in continuing to pile on more sanctions on Iran is to tie the hands of the next president and prevent him from reentering the JCPOA. They have touted this as their “sanctions wall,” and they have been very proud of their obstructionism. The trouble for the Iran hawks is that they have made no secret that they are acting in bad faith that it should be a simple matter for Biden to undo their work fairly quickly. While many of the Trump administration’s new designations ostensibly target Iranian individuals and institutions with non-nuclear sanctions, the stated purpose for imposing them has been to help scuttle the JCPOA. This makes them nuclear sanctions by another name:

The JCPOA provides a mechanism for resolving disputes between the parties. It will be straightforward enough for the Biden administration to reenter the deal and use this mechanism to bring both the U.S. and Iran back into full compliance. The JCPOA can be fully salvaged provided that Biden is willing to follow through on his commitments to do so. Despite Iran hawks’ desperate efforts to throw up roadblocks to stop Biden from dismantling the “maximum pressure” campaign, their own bad-faith maneuvering has all but guaranteed that the “sanctions wall” will crumble and fall.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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