November 27, 2021 | Video Bytes

The U.S. is heading into the Iran nuclear #ViennaTalks at perhaps its weakest yet

November 27, 2021 Video Bytes

The U.S. is heading into the Iran nuclear #ViennaTalks at perhaps its weakest yet

Follow the conversation on Clubhouse

At 2:30pm EST on Monday, November 11, FDD CEO Mark Dubowitz and FDD Senior Advisor Richard Goldberg will host a discussion on the Clubhouse app following day one of the nuclear negotiations resuming in Vienna.

Not on Clubhouse? We will share audio of the conversation on our website following the event.


Follow the conversation on Twitter with #ViennaTalks

Video Bytes on the #ViennaTalks

FDD Senior Fellow Behnam Ben Taleblu



The United States is coming into these negotiations possibly in its weakest position in many years, vis-à-vis Iran.

Rather than capitalize on all of the sanctions pressure, the historic sanctions pressure that the Biden administration inherited from the Trump administration in January, the Biden administration opted for a different policy throughout the year, one that I like to call maximum concessions. Others may call it maximum carrots, where they decided not to enforce sanctions anymore. In fact, at different points giving sanctions relief to Iran to give access to billions of dollars of its foreign exchange reserves locked up overseas.

Now, that rescued the regime from near financial collapse and allowed them to stabilize their economy. At the same time, they moved forward with nuclear expansion, at first going to 20% enriched uranium, then 60% enriched uranium, manufacturing uranium metal enriched 20%, limiting IAEA inspectors’ access to different sites, and at the same time upping their attacks on US forces in the Middle East, in Iraq and Syria. We’ve seen drone strikes constantly, we’ve seen rocket attacks, we’ve seen their terror proxies, whether it’s the Houthis in Yemen attacking our allies in Saudi Arabia or others in the Gulf and the maritime traffic, attacks on Israel. All of this going on throughout the year, and the response from the administration has been still not to enforce sanctions, not to censure Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency, not to respond militarily to the ongoing attacks against US forces and our allies.

And, so, here we are today [with] Iran’s economy in much better shape than it was in January, its nuclear program accelerated beyond what I think anybody would’ve thought by now. Certainly much of the progress of its nuclear program happening under the Biden administration, not the Trump administration. And now walking into the room still with this idea of going back to a nuclear deal that has already expired last October with the arms embargo lifting, is on track to expire with additional sunsets going forward in 2023, 2025, and beyond. And the potential for the Iranians to say, “Actually we’re going to keep all these nuclear gains. You can still pay us to slow down, but we’re not going to accept the old limits of the JCPOA. We’ll do something else.”

The Biden administration may want to try to call this an interim agreement, but it will be the final agreement, because if you lift sanctions on Iran, if you allow them to keep all these nuclear gains, you have effectively allowed them to move the football from where it was on their own one yard line just a year ago, into our own red zone. Quite the change of fate for the international community, and certainly for the United States. If I was the Biden administration, I would push reset on this policy, get some new people and some new fresh thinking in there, rebuild some pressure, work with our allies, work with the IAEA to censure Iran, start rebuilding military deterrent in the region, make sure Iran knows that they cannot move to a nuclear weapon, that they cannot attack US forces and our allies without there being a military response.

Absent any of these, I really fear that we are probably looking at two options. One, an Iranian nuclear weapons capability very soon, or two, an Israeli military strike to prevent that from happening.