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The nuclear talks have accelerated rapidly in the past few weeks. Negotiating sides in Vienna are close to an agreement, but before the final draft is released, let’s review what the US has given Iran and what was offered in return.

In January, Iran announced it had begun enriching uranium at up to 20% purity. Experts said that was only a technical step away from weapons-grade level of enriched uranium. On April 16, Iran threatened to enrich at a 60% grade level.

Prior to the relaunching of negotiations in Vienna, Iran declared it would install 1,000 new centrifuges in Natanz. Fast forward a couple weeks and Iran had begun using a second type of advanced centrifuges, the IR-4, further breaching the original JCPOA agreement. Later on, Iran launched a chain of 164 IR-6 centrifuges and another batch of IR-9 centrifuges, capable of enriching at a speed 50 times greater than the original model.

In a military drill this past January, the Iranian forces tested ballistic missiles capable of carrying warheads up to 1,430 lbs (650 kg) for up to 1,243 miles (2,000 km). Not only does this expose Iran’s motive behind their nuclear program, it is another violation of Resolution 2231 of the United Nations Security Council and the JCPOA.

In return for all of Iran’s violations and threats, the US has responded by loosening sanctions and otherwise trying to appease our previously sworn enemy.

One of President Biden’s first moves when he assumed office was to remove the Houthis from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO). This move is a prize for terror and for Iran, as Iran uses them as a proxy, particularly in Yemen. Taking them off the FTO list gives Iran more leverage against the Saudis in their regional brawl.

Shortly thereafter, the United States gave the green light to South Korea to unfreeze Iranian money in exchange for the release of a South Korean oil tanker. I believe that delisting the Houthis and handing Iran billions of dollars was a payoff to encourage Iran to negotiate another JCPOA-style agreement.

Iran’s state television announced Sunday that they would release four American prisoners in exchange for four Iranians held in the United States and the unfreezing of $7 billion of Iranian oil funds. However, the United States denied this report.

The additional money made me wonder, is this the same money tied to South Korea? If not, what purpose does unfreezing the funds serve? What are we getting in exchange for that?

Lastly, when Tim Lenderking appeared in front of Congress in April 2021, he mentioned Iranian support to the Houthis mentioning “the growing Houthi military capability due to support from Tehran. The Houthis receive considerable funding, training, and other support from Iran.

He essentially admitted that Iran is defying American sanctions and fueling the war while we continue with our concessions.

The United States has made several concessions to Iran while they breach American sanctions, violate UN resolutions and the JCPOA, and continue to develop their nuclear program and gotten nothing in return. If this is the price we are paying just to get them to the table in Vienna, what will it take to get them to agree to the terms of a non-binding document?

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About the Author

Benjamin Weil
Benjamin Weil is Director of the Project for Israel’s National Security at the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He formerly served as the international adviser to Minister Yuval Steinitz, a member of Israel’s Security Cabinet.

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