Activist state

Iran nuclear deal dead as anti-regime protests grow

The Biden administration’s negotiations on a revamped version of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal have died following massive anti-regime protests that have swept through the Islamic Republic, according to the State Department spokeswoman. the former Trump administration.

“I see no room or space for [the administration] to rebuild” long-stalled negotiations, Morgan Ortagus, who served under former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, said during a roundtable Friday afternoon at the Richard Nixon Foundation’s Grand Strategy Summit in Washington, D.C. DC “It would be a political disaster in the United States and a disaster for the Iranian people who reject this regime. »

How could the Biden administration “financially empower the very oppressors of women and teens we are meant to defend and with whom we are meant to defend?” asked Ortagus.

Ortagus, who has played a central role in the Trump administration’s efforts to sanction the Iranian regime, said the Biden administration has “no influence” on the Iranian regime at this time. The nationwide protests that have swept Iran over the past month are likely the final nail in the coffin of negotiations over a revamped nuclear deal, she said. While the Biden administration has condemned the Iranian government’s violent crackdown on protesters, it has refrained from repeating protesters’ calls for regime change.

When he took office, President Joe Biden’s team “didn’t have a plan for Iran except to go back into the JCPOA,” the official acronym for the Iran deal, Ortagus said. . Had the administration been able to finalize another “weak and pathetic deal,” Ortagus said about three-quarters of the Senate would have voted it down. Iran, she added, “played [Biden] for 18 months” and “I don’t see any strategy” for the future.

Jon Alterman, a former State Department official who directs the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank’s Middle East program, pushed back against Ortagus’ assessment. He said the Trump administration’s so-called maximum pressure campaign on Tehran – which included the toughest sanctions regime in history – had failed because US allies were not on board.

It is “deeply wrong and perhaps dishonest to claim that the Biden administrator thought the JCPOA would fix Iran,” Alterman said. “Our track record of changing governments and putting something better in their place is rather mixed.”

Alterman said he agrees with the Biden administration’s response to the anti-regime protest movement in Iran.

“The Biden administration has actually taken a reasonable line in criticizing the Iranian government for its abuses, but being careful not to speak for the protesters, not to defend the protesters.”

However, Iranian dissident groups in the United States and other Western countries have been pushing for a more aggressive response from the Biden administration, with some calling on the president to fire US Iran envoy Robert Malley, who became the face of the administration’s diplomacy with Tehran. .

Ortagus said the Trump administration had never focused on regime change in Iran, but was keeping it from fomenting terrorism in the Middle East and Europe.

“The conversation was never about fixing a regime or choosing who would lead Iran. It’s up to the Iranian people to decide,” she said. “There have never been any discussions that I have been aware of and have been part of” that included regime change.