November 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Biden Calls for a Free Iran

November 7, 2022 | Flash Brief

Biden Calls for a Free Iran

Latest Developments

“We’re gonna free Iran,” said President Joe Biden on Thursday. “They’re gonna free themselves pretty soon.” A White House spokesperson appeared to back-pedal the statement the next day, saying that Biden was merely “expressing, again, our solidarity” with Iranian protestors rather than articulating a new U.S. policy. Still, the president’s declaration constitutes an apparent endorsement of regime change in Iran, implicitly repudiating his current policy, which centers on engaging the regime in hopes of reviving the 2015 nuclear deal.

Expert Analysis

“President Biden has belatedly yet rightly affirmed the imperative of regime change in Iran, but he must go further. The White House should explicitly revoke its offer of sanctions relief to Iran. Washington must not provide an economic lifeline to a regime that continues to massacre its own people. Tzvi Kahn, FDD Research Fellow and Senior Editor

Protests Continue

Protests continue to consume Iran as casualties mount, with more than 300 reported deaths, including 41 children and 24 women, since the unrest began in September. Tehran has arrested as many as 14,000 people, according to Javaid Rehman, the UN’s special rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Islamic Republic of Iran, and indicted approximately 1,000 of them. Many face the death penalty.

Growing International Solidarity with the Iranian People

America and its allies have issued increasingly robust statements criticizing Iran’s human rights abuses while downplaying their previous emphasis on reviving the 2015 nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On Friday, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States issued a joint statement expressing “support for the fundamental aspiration of the people of Iran for a future where human security and their universal human rights are respected and protected.” On October 17, the European Union sanctioned 11 individuals and four entities for human rights abuses, noting that Iran’s violent crackdown on peaceful protesters is “unjustifiable and unacceptable.”

Canada has passed four rounds of sanctions targeting dozens of Iranian officials and entities complicit in human rights abuses. In an October 29 speech, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alluded to the desirability of regime change, saying, “Even years from now, when perhaps there will be a change of regime and things will be better in Iran, those people responsible now will never be forgotten.”

A Dying Nuclear Deal 

The White House increasingly appears to recognize that Tehran lacks any interest in reaching a nuclear deal consistent with Western interests. U.S. envoy for Iran Robert Malley said on October 31 that the Biden administration would not “waste time” trying to resuscitate the JCPOA. However, it remains unclear whether the White House would advocate pursuing the deal if protests faded. To eliminate such ambiguity, President Biden should reject further talks and adopt a policy of maximum pressure on Iran.

Related Analysis

Iran’s Hard-Liners Are Starting to Crack,” by Reuel Marc Gerecht and Ray Takeyh

Maximum Support for the Iranian People: A New Strategy,” by Saeed Ghasseminejad, Richard Goldberg, Tzvi Kahn, and Behnam Ben Taleblu


Iran Iran Human Rights Iran Politics and Economy