December 12, 2022 | Flash Brief

Biden Administration Refuses to Rule Out Sanctions Relief for Iran

December 12, 2022 | Flash Brief

Biden Administration Refuses to Rule Out Sanctions Relief for Iran

Latest Developments

When asked last week whether nuclear negotiations with Iran were still ongoing, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “We continue to believe that ultimately diplomacy is the most effective way to deal with this, but that’s not where the focus is.” In short, the administration still wants to lift sanctions on Tehran in exchange for limited nuclear concessions, even though the clerical regime is cracking down violently on nationwide protests and helping Russia attack Ukraine. Blinken’s statement explains why the administration has withheld full-throated support for Iran’s protest movement and refrained from working with European allies to restore the UN arms embargo on Iran.

Expert Analysis

“The Biden administration is hedging against the Iranians taking to the streets in favor of an anti-American, terror-sponsoring regime that’s helping Russia attack Ukraine. President Biden should work with allies to restore international sanctions on Iran at the UN Security Council and articulate a clear U.S. policy in support of the Iranian people’s desire to bring down the regime that has oppressed them for 40 years.” Richard Goldberg, FDD Senior Advisor

Nuclear Deal Would Subsidize Russian Attacks on Ukraine, Violence against Women

The Biden administration has yet to formally withdraw its offer of sanctions relief for the Islamic Republic. The deal on the table would provide the regime with $274 billion of relief in its first year and $1 trillion by 2030. The agreement would also lift U.S. sanctions on the top financiers of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) — the U.S.-designated terrorist organization responsible for cracking down on Iranian protesters and supplying Russia with drones to attack Ukraine. These financiers include the Central Bank of Iran and the National Iranian Oil Company, both of which funnel billions of dollars to the IRGC.

UN Snapback Would Help Iranian Protesters and Ukraine

Pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, the international arms embargo on Iran expired in 2020, and a missile embargo will expire next October. The resolution, however, came with a provision to restore all UN sanctions if Iran exceeded the nuclear limits set by the deal. Iran’s continued nuclear escalation makes this “snapback” mechanism available at any time. If the United States worked with Britain, France, or Germany to trigger this “snapback,” which neither Russia nor China could prevent, the regime in Tehran would find itself further politically isolated, while its financial sector could enter freefall as the market rules out the possibility of U.S. sanctions relief.

Related Analysis

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

Iran Is Now at War With Ukraine,” by John Hardie and Behnam Ben Taleblu

If Europe Wants to Sanction Iran, It Knows What to Do,” by Richard Goldberg and Andrea Stricker


Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights Iran Nuclear Iran Politics and Economy Iran Sanctions Sanctions and Illicit Finance