Blame game doesn’t work to revive Iran nuclear deal: Guardian

March 2, 2021 - 21:42

TEHRAN - Biden may inadvertently achieve what Trump couldn’t. He is destroying the Iran deal, Obama’s main foreign policy achievement, according the Guardian, a British newspaper.

“Diplomacy is back!” President Joe Biden declared at the Munich Security Conference, the newspaper said. But the newspaper asks: “So is bombing Syria.”
Biden has only been president a bit more than a month, but he has already ordered his first bombing campaign, it said, adding it took Trump four months to do the same. 

The target was facilities in eastern Syria used by Iraq’s anti-terror forces. 

The U.S. tried to justify attack on the Iraqi anti-terror forces by claiming that they attacked U.S. and Western targets inside Iraq with the permission of Iran.

Contrary to the claim by Biden, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told his Iraqi counterpart Faud Hussein, who visited Iran on Feb. 27, that the attacks and events inside Iraq are “suspicious” and suggested it is essential that the Iraqi government take actions against those behind such actions.

The Guardian argued Biden intended to signal to Iran that it would pay a heavy price if it ordered attacks against U.S. forces to pressure the U.S. to return to the Iran nuclear deal, and wrote, “by bombing Syria for this reason, Biden proved how failing to rejoin the nuclear agreement endangers U.S. national security – Iran’s nuclear program continues to advance while the U.S. and Iran glide closer to a military confrontation.”

The newspaper said, “Biden knows these arguments quite well. He made them against Donald Trump only a few months ago. His top officials have spent the past years extensively criticizing Trump’s maximum pressure strategy. They were all correct.”

The British newspaper sharply criticized Biden’s strategy towards Iran’s nuclear deal and stressed, “While Biden’s intent to return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) seems unquestionable, good intentions and good strategy are not the same thing. Rather than bringing diplomacy back, Biden appears to be falling back into old patterns where appearing tough trumps being smart and where diplomacy is merely a slogan sprinkled on policies centered on coercion, not a genuine give and take.”

Acknowledging that a revival of the JCPOA would be faced with challenges, it wrote, “And the lack of priority given to Iran may simply be due to the plethora of domestic and international crises Biden has to attend to with less than a full staff.”

“Biden officials repeatedly made public demands that Iran had to take the first step before any of Trump’s JCPOA-violating sanctions could be lifted – even though it was the U.S. that left the agreement.”

Yet, these exonerating circumstances do not explain the many seemingly unnecessary and counterproductive measures the Biden administration has taken on the JCPOA since taking office, thee publication said.

The newspaper blasted the Biden administration due to its decision to create a public feud over whether Iran or the U.S. would have to take the first step towards reviving the JCPOA. “Instead of carefully working with the Europeans to design a choreography that would enable both sides to move simultaneously, and by that, avoid a conflict over chronology altogether, Biden officials repeatedly made public demands that Iran had to take the first step before any of Trump’s JCPOA-violating sanctions could be lifted – even though it was the U.S. that left the agreement.”

The Guardian admitted this strategy won’t work and made a reference to Wendy Sherman, President Barack Obama’s former lead negotiator and Biden’s pick for deputy secretary of state, who has said, “I would be shocked if Iran agreed to a meeting without some sanctions relief” and that there “are plenty of ways to do this so that everyone’s interests can be met and so that everyone’s face can be saved”. 

Sherman was right then and she is right now. 

Even if Biden calculated that a small public confrontation could serve the administration’s wider purposes, it should not have been over an issue where the U.S. neither has persuasive moral nor legal arguments.

“Even before diplomacy has begun, the Biden administration has seemingly initiated a highly unproductive blame game that has further damaged the atmospherics for diplomacy,” the Guardian wrote. 
It argued the administration’s efforts to emphasize that Iran is the party out of compliance with the JCPOA and that the future of the deal relies on Iran coming back into compliance are technically false. 

“Even though it is the U.S. that left the deal while Iran is still in it. While Iran has reduced its obligations in accordance to paragraph 36 of the JCPOA, that is fundamentally different from the U.S. leaving the deal and imposing sanctions on countries that seek to abide by the nuclear accord,” it added. 

The Guardian said Biden’s attitude has been that the U.S. simply is not responsible for the actions of the Trump administration and wrote, 
“America has a new president now and as a result, it starts off with a clean slate unburdened by the many transgressions of Donald Trump. Consequently, it is Iran that is in the wrong, not America. All the U.S. needed to do to regain the moral high ground was to elect a new president – even though the new president is continuing the policies of the old president.”

The blame game is further fought at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) now. Reports indicate that the U.S. and the EU are seeking to rebuke Iran for reducing its cooperation with the IAEA. 

The newspaper highlighted the fact that the problem is that the U.S. has quitted all of its obligations while Tehran has reduced some of its own. If the U.S. rejoins the deal and Iran didn’t, rebuking it would be fully justified. But doing so now when the U.S. still remains outside of the deal is simply Kafkaesque, it added. 

It’s not even a clever way of playing the blame game, the publication said.

Pointing to the fact that if the U.S. succeeds in shifting the blame to Iran, the question is what the value of that is at this point, it underscored. 

“In this early stage of diplomacy, the parties should be seeking to create the best possible atmosphere for talks. They should demonstrate their positive intent and commitment to finding a diplomatic solution. Descending into a public blame game is what the parties do when talks start to break down – it’s not an effective measure to get talks going. All it does, intentionally or not, is to signal insincerity, perhaps even bad intent.”

With regard to how Biden’s maneuvering has been read in Tehran, the newspaper concluded, “Whatever advantage Biden thinks he gains through military signaling in Syria and by playing the blame game in the media, if it sabotages what arguably is the final opportunity to revive an accord that is critical to U.S. national security, then Biden may inadvertently achieve what Trump couldn’t: destroying the legacy of Obama’s main foreign policy achievement.”