MEK Iran: State Media Grapple with Reality that Biden Is No Appeaser
After a year of grandstanding from the mullahs, Iranian state media are grappling with the reality that the Biden administration is unlikely to rejoin the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA—more commonly referred to as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal—without significant concessions from the regime. In fact, recent articles in state-run media indicate that Biden’s policies may have more teeth than Trump’s.
The Resalat daily underlined this point in a March 2 article. “Several Iranian politicians had this vision that Biden would start returning to the JCPOA and performing U.S. obligations immediately after entering the Oval Office on January 20. However, not only did this issue not happen but Biden prepared new pressure, which Trump’s policy is likely a jock in comparison to them,” the piece read.
A New Bargaining Table
The Iranian regime enters negotiations in far different circumstances than it did in 2015. Regime leaders made several strategic mistakes when they assumed that the U.S. would rejoin the JCPOA without conditions.
First, although Biden announced his intent during his presidential campaign to rejoin the JCPOA, he never agreed to lift sanctions before doing so. A March 2 article in the state-run Ebtekar daily acknowledged this point, writing: “Biden had promised to rejoin the JCPOA during the Presidential campaign. However, he follows this return as a traffic sign, which Mike Pompeo, the former Secretary of State, had designated in his twelve conditions.”
Biden earned back the support of European
Second, by announcing his intention to rejoin the JCPOA, Biden earned back the support of European allies who had been alienated by Trump. This alliance gives the U.S. a strategic advantage when negotiating with the Iranian regime. Sanctions were previously the sole method available to the U.S. to apply pressure to Tehran, but with the support of European allies, diplomatic methods may also be employed.
Third, the regime laid out a timetable for negotiations as if it had the upper hand, but Tehran’s position in the world has shifted radically since 2015. The regime needs the U.S. to rejoin the JCPOA so that it may get some relief from choking sanctions and stave off economic collapse. The Biden administration will negotiate on its own timetable, and Tehran will now enter negotiations having conceded its first point.
Discovery of nuclear materials
Fourth, the recent discovery of nuclear materials in previously undiscovered areas of Iran has given cover for European members of the JCPOA to join a U.S.-led resolution against Iran at the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors.
On March 2, the state-run Shargh daily wrote: “The U.S. intends offering a resolution against Iran at the Board of Governors of the IAEA… The approval of such a resolution would not be impossible due to the IAEA’s questions about uranium traces in two sites, the start of 20-percent enrichment after the Majlis’ bill, and the Europeans’ support [of the U.S.].
“This approval undoubtedly increases international pressure on Iran and approaches the U.S. and Europe to exert more pressure before triggering dispute mechanism in the JCPOA,” the daily added.
Regime Change Only Way to Full Relief
Some media outlets have gone so far as to suggest that Iran would only see full sanctions relief if the ruling regime lost power.
“Even the U.S. return to the JCPOA is not equivalent to lifting sanctions. In other words, if all of Pompeo’s twelve articles are performed, all of U.S. sanctions—which have been imposed in these 40 years—would not definitely be lifted. Its intensity and weakness may change, however, some cases may be suspended,” wrote the state-run Farhikhtegan website on March 2.
Sanctions should not be lifted unless a fundamental change
“However, all sanctions would not be lifted, unless a fundamental ‘regime change’ took place in Iran. Then, some parts of sanctions will be lifted after seven, eight, or ten years,” the website added.
The MEK has long held that Iran’s standing in the international community will not be normalized until the mullahs have been removed from power. It would appear that at least some members of the regime’s press are beginning to agree.