July 10, 2024 | Flash Brief

UN Special Rapporteur: Biden Has No Clear Iran Strategy

July 10, 2024 | Flash Brief

UN Special Rapporteur: Biden Has No Clear Iran Strategy

Latest Developments

President Joe Biden’s administration lacks a clear Iran strategy, the United Nations’ special rapporteur for human rights in Iran said on July 9. Arguing that Tehran has “been taking advantage” of Washington, Javaid Rehman, a British academic who has held the UN post since 2018, added: “I think you need to be consistent as to what are you going to do to address a regime which is persistently violating the rights of its own people, but is also a threat to the region and to the world. I mean, we had this issue with [Iran’s] support for the Russians in Ukraine, providing drones. So how can you trust the Iranians and deal with them?”

Rehman also alleged that America has not prioritized Iran’s human rights abuses. Instead, he said, Washington has erred by allowing the clerical regime to access funds in return for the release of hostages. “Human rights values should take priority,” Rehman asserted. “The problem with successive U.S. regimes is that they are willing to do deals with Iranians when it suits them. Last year, we saw that the U.S. government agreed to give $6 billion in exchange for these hostages. I think that we should not be dealing with a rogue state.”

Expert Analysis

“While the UN special rapporteur’s comments should be a wakeup call, they are more likely to be tuned out by an administration that appears intent on kicking the can down the road at any cost. Iran’s ability to capitalize on the American inability to connect ways, means, and ends on Iran policy should by now be self-evident and non-partisan, which is why even UN sources feel comfortable voicing their concerns.” — Behnam Ben Taleblu, FDD Senior Fellow

“Under Biden, Washington has failed to curb Tehran’s nuclear program, regional aggression, terrorism abroad, and oppression at home. Biden effectively dismantled the sanctions regime without securing any concessions in return.” — Saeed Ghasseminejad, FDD Senior Iran and Financial Economics Advisor

A Failed Plan

Upon taking office, the Biden administration pledged that Washington would resume diplomacy with Iran, abandon former President Donald Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, and revive the 2015 nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. However, Tehran rejected America’s overtures, including Biden’s robust sanctions relief, and intensified its malign conduct, including its nuclear program, which remains on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. Yet Biden has not articulated an alternate strategy. On April 12, 2024, Biden issued a one-word warning to Iran in response to reports that it would seek to attack Israel: “Don’t.” On the night of April 13, Iran fired more than 300 missiles and drones at the Jewish state.

Iran’s Human Rights Abuses Persist

The Biden administration has taken few meaningful steps to stymie Iran’s human rights abuses, enabling Tehran to intensify its repression. In recent years, Iranians have launched nationwide protests against the regime, leading to a brutal crackdown that has claimed hundreds of lives. In addition, according to the Oslo-based nonprofit Iran Human Rights, Tehran has also executed 260 people this year alone. In one recent case that has prompted international attention, Iran issued a death sentence against labor activist Sharifeh Mohammadi for her peaceful activism against the regime. Tehran has also strengthened its enforcement of laws requiring women to wear the hijab, or headscarf.

Protests in Iran Persist Eight Months After Death of Mahsa Amini,” FDD Flash Brief

Mapping Protests in Iran,” by Mark Dubowitz

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


International Organizations Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran Human Rights Iran Nuclear Iran Sanctions Military and Political Power