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Iran’s Nuclear Program: Does the Biden Administration Have a Policy?

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By: Majid Rafizadeh

The Biden Administration’s reluctance to enforce existing sanctions on Iran — the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, according to the State Department in 2021 — looks suspiciously like total appeasement of Iran’s ruling mullahs.

Since 2021, the Biden Administration has been cozying up to Iran in a way that has often seemed agonizingly embarrassing to entice it back to the disastrous 2015 “JCPOA” nuclear deal of the Obama Administration. Mercifully those efforts did not succeed: the new deal would still most likely have enabled Iran, after a few years, legitimately to have all the nuclear weapons it liked.

Meanwhile, in Israel, on May 22, US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides was asked, “Can Israel attack Iran without the US? What about the lack of meetings between President Biden and PM Netanyahu?” Nides answered:

“The coordination between Israel and US vis-à-vis our mutual enemies, our common threats in the region, is rock solid. One of the things President Biden assured both PM Bennett and Lapid, and Netanyahu, was that there would be complete transparency regarding coordination on Iran…. And it’s not just Iran, it’s its proxies. We stand here to support Israel and work with it to make sure Iran never attains a nuclear weapon.”

The trouble is, can we believe him?

So far, the Biden Administration’s lack of strategy towards the Iranian regime also became evident during the recent briefing about Iran that disappointed U.S. Senators. According to Senator Josh Hawley:

“Based on what I heard … they really don’t have much to say on the topic, and I didn’t think it was particularly useful briefing. I don’t know if they really have a coherent strategy if there is one I didn’t I didn’t hear.”

Senator Jim Risch had similar message; he released a brief statement on May 16, saying:

“It’s been over six months since President Biden declared the JCPOA ‘dead’ and we’re still no closer to a more comprehensive Iran policy. Strategic ambiguity on Iran policy only serves to embolden the regime and push our partners closer to China.”

Not only has the Biden administration abandoned the “maximum pressure” policy on the mullahs, also, ever since President Joe Biden assumed office, Iran has been freely enriching uranium to levels just short of nuclear breakout – levels not needed for peaceful nuclear technology – and violating sanctions. With Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Iran has become a major weapons smuggler and exporter to the aggressors. Russia has depleted the supply of attack drones that it previously bought from Iran and, according to a report published on May 15, 2023, is looking to purchase more.

According to White House National Security Council spokesman John Kirby:

“Iran also continues to provide Russia with one-way attack UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles). Since August, Iran has provided Russia with more than 400 UAVs primarily of the Shahed variety…Russia has expended most of these UAVs, using them to target Ukrainian critical infrastructure inside Ukraine. By providing Russia with these UAVs, Iran has been directly enabling Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine.”

The Biden administration is also not putting any pressure on the European Union to stop trading with Iran. In fact, bragged the Tehran Times,

“The value of Iran’s export to the European Union (EU)’s member states rose 28 percent in the first nine months of 2022… Iran exported commodities worth ˆ799 million to the union in the nine-month period of this year, while the figure was ˆ623 million in the same time span of the previous year… the total value of trade between Iran and the European Union reached ˆ3.947 billion in January-September 2022, while the figure was ˆ3.025 billion in the same period of 2021.”

Iran’s increasing trade with and exports to the EU are also increasing the regime’s revenues and assisting it to supply more weapons to Russia. The Iranian regime, in favor of the Russian invasion from the outset, praised Russia’s decision to send troops into Ukraine. Iran’s weapons exports to Russia have not been limited just to exporting drones. according to a recent report from Sky News:

“Iran has secretly supplied large quantities of bullets, rockets and mortar shells to Russia for the war in Ukraine and plans to send more, a security source has told Sky News.

“The source claimed that two Russian-flagged cargo ships, departed an Iranian port in January bound for Russia via the Caspian Sea, carrying approximately 100 million bullets and around 300,000 shells.

“Ammunition for rocket launchers, mortars and machine guns was allegedly included in the shipments.

“The source said Moscow paid for the ammunition in cash.”

Finally, Iran is now producing more oil and selling it at levels close to the pre-sanctions era to countries such as China, which desperately needs more oil, while the Biden Administration suspended new oil and gas leases on public lands and waters.

The Biden Administration’s policies of appeasement are directly energizing the Iranian regime. We need to remember what Winston Churchill warned against about appeasing aggressors:

“Each one hopes that if he feeds the crocodile enough, the crocodile will eat him last. All of them hope that the storm will pass before their turn comes to be devoured. But I fear — I fear greatly — the storm will not pass. It will rage and it will roar, ever more loudly, ever more widely. It will spread to the South; it will spread to the North.”


Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US Foreign Policy. He can be reached at [email protected]

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