U.S. President Joe Biden has abandoned — for now — negotiations with Iran to return to the JCPOA, otherwise known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or Iran Nuclear Deal.
Lost in the blitz of midterm media coverage in recent weeks was a bit of bright foreign policy news. Good news for U.S. conservatives and everyone else lamenting the Obama-era fiasco that "agreement" is.
In a surprising development, the Biden administration has firmly shut the door against rejoining the July 14, 2015 deal.
Citing the Iranian government’s recent crackdown on protestors angered at the killing of a young Kurdish woman in police custody by Iran’s notorious "morality police" in September — and Iran’s irksome support for the Russian war effort in Ukraine — the Biden Administration announced on October 31 that it’s, "not wasting our time," on the JCPOA.
When asked about returning to the Iran nuclear deal, a Biden spokesperson said it’s, not our focus right now.
Many Mideastern nations are celebrating the news.
The JCPOA was never popular with U.S. allies in the Mideast, especially Saudi Arabia and Israel. At the tiome ofits inking critics of the agreement argued — correctly, as it turned out, that it granted too much money to Iran’s rouge government.
"Riyadh’s concerns about Iran have never been primarily focused on the nuclear danger." explained Mideastern foreign policy expert Bruce Riedel for the Brookings Institute on July 13, 2016.
"The Saudis have long calculated the risk of Iranian use of nuclear weapons as low. They also believe the American nuclear umbrella protects them."
"The key Saudi concern is their belief that Iran seeks regional hegemony and uses terrorism and subversion to achieve it," Riedel succinctly concluded, summing up the feelings of many sovereign countries in the Mideast.
They don’t relish the idea of Iran subverting their authority and autonomy with U.S. dollars.
Fears the "pallets of cash" Iran received under the JCPOA would be used to fund proxy terror in the region were to prove well-founded.
Over the next five years, new and old conflicts blazed in the Mideast region --- and its environs --- terrorist attacks increased exponentially, and ISIS grew to the height of its ruthlessness and power.
As critics of the JCPOA also pointed out in 2015, the agreement was never intended to prevent Iran’s government from building a nuclear weapon, as Obama himself admitted, in writing, at the time.
Iran only agreed to stay 12 months away from achieving its nuclear ambitions.
One of the biggest critics of the 2015 Iran deal, Saudi Arabia, has been at odds with the Biden administration over several contentious issues since at least 2021.
The 2018 brutal murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi still hangs over the kingdom like a pall. On the campaign trail, candidate Joe Biden promised U.S. Democrats he would, "turn Saudi Arabia into a pariah state."
But by July 2022, President Biden was singing quite a different tune.
Biden visited Saudi Arabia in an attempt to convince the Kingdom to increase OPEC oil production and bring down U.S. gas prices before the midterms. The request may have been entertained, but it was ultimately denied.
The Saudis announced in October that OPEC would be cutting production instead.
One of the reasons — as French President Emmanuel Macron was caught warning Mr. Biden on a hot mic at the G7 convention in June 2022 — could be that OPEC is already at its current max capacity and won’t be able to increase production for at least another year in any case.
Another reason might have been the Saudi government’s irritation at the Biden Administration for courting Iran and pushing for a return to the old JCPOA agreement.
Now that the Biden administration is publicly backing away from negotiations with Iran, the recently strained relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia may be on the mend.
This is excellent news for the region, for Saudi Arabia and Israel in particular. It is especially important given the current state of world affairs.
In early 2022, Vladimir Putin observed that Russia’s fellow superpowers were weakened by COVID-19 lockdowns and economic woes. He saw an American population bone-wearied by foreign wars, reeling from the disastrous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and he saw an opportunity.
Putin’s Russia might not be the last tyrannical government to make such a cold calculation.
"Saudi Arabia, U.S. on High Alert After Warning of Imminent Iranian Attack," reported The Wall Street Journal last week," Saudis said Tehran wants to distract from local protests, and the National Security Council said the U.S. is prepared to respond."
In a world that seems to be careening dangerously close to a widening global conflict, all countries committed to peace must band together.
The United States, Saudi Arabia, Israel, and other U.S. allies in the Mideast need a strong and united front to stand firm against nations determined to foist war and violence on their neighbors, near and far.
The death of the JCPOA, if it's indeed dead, is good news for Mideast peace.