President Joe Biden’s recently released National Security Strategy labels Russia as an “acute” threat to U.S. national security. Yet the administration continues, with the support and encouragement of the EU, its futile attempt to restart the Iran nuclear deal, using Russia as its proxy negotiator. One can only wonder how the Biden administration believes the U.S. can negotiate this type of agreement using a nation we actually recognize and label an acute threat to work out the details with a nation—Iran—we label as a “persistent threat.”
Not only is Iran an ally of Russia, it is also a strong backer of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and can therefore quite possibly be an enemy combatant. Iran has been providing Russia with “kamikaze drones,” training and military advisors, all the while helping Russia to evade international sanctions imposed in the wake of its Ukraine invasion. Iran is also in the process of transferring ballistic missiles to Russia, including the Fateh-110 and Zolfaghar.
More major evidence of disarray is how the U.S. — as it tries to play nice with the “world’s biggest sponsor of state terrorism,” Iran — is undercutting relations with America’s key allies in the Middle East. Not surprisingly, most Middle Eastern countries do not want to see a nuclear-armed Iran. Both Biden and the Saudi government made this point abundantly clear at their summit earlier this year. Given the unified messaged and shared strategic goals, you would think this would be case closed.
Saudi Arabia is deeply concerned, all the same, that the Iran agreement will soon be back on the table. Despite U.S. Special Envoy Robert Malley’s claimthat, “Right now the talks on revival of JCPOA are not on the US agenda,” the key words, “right now” open the door for a nuclear deal in the near future — possibly during the government’s Christmas recess, when Congress will not be in session to block a deal or ask uncomfortable questions. Already, 50 of its members – mostly Democrats from the president’s own party — under the leadership of Rep. Josh Gottheimer, sent a letter to Biden “sound[ing] the alarm” on the new Iran nuclear deal.
The Saudis are concerned about the efforts by the Biden administration to finalize a new agreement. The Saudis quite correctly believe that that the new Iran deal, rather than stopping Iran from developing nuclear weapons, would actually pave its way to nuclear weapons, in addition to giving Iran’s despotic regime up to a trillion dollars — if the mullahs would please just not use the nuclear weapons on the Biden administration’s watch.
Democrats and others opposed to Saudi Arabia have seized upon the decision by OPEC+ to cut oil production by two million barrels per day to bash the Saudi’s anew. While the grisly murder of Osama bin Laden’s close friend Jamal Khashoggi was far from acceptable, the sad reality is that the Kingdom is no more guilty of unspeakable behavior than are Iran, Russia, China, North Korea, Turkey Venezuela, Qatar or a number of other nations that the Biden administration and the international community are cozying up to.
The oil production cuts could have major price consequences at the pump both in Europe and in the U.S. The Democrat concerns over damage to the party’s November 8 election prospects were so great that the Biden administration asked the Saudis to delay any cuts until after the election.
In response to the cuts, Biden conceded that his fist bump diplomacy was a failure. Although Biden supposedly will examine all aspects of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, he threatened the kingdom with “consequences” — reportedly by suspending arms sales — all because Saudi Arabia is trying to defend itself from being potentially obliterated by an openly hostile Iran.
Iran’s proxy militia in Yemen, the Houthis — which the Biden administration in its first days in office delisted from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations – immediately returned the favor by attacking Saudi oil fields (here, here here and here) and launching missiles into the United Arab Emirates (here and here) . Why should the Gulf Arabs not be, to say the least, skeptical?
A deal with Iran will simply make it stronger, putting it in an even better position to assist Russia in seizing Ukraine’s territory before moving on to the next targets: Moldova, Poland, the Baltic States, Central Europe, South America— with the possible ultimate goal of unseating America.
Key energy relationships in the Middle East are being badly damaged by the possibility of a new Iran-U.S. agreement. The U.S. seeks to harshly punish any country opposed to U.S. efforts for a questionable nuclear agreement that would empower Iran, and vastly enrich it and its numerous terrorist proxies, including the Houthis, Hezbollah, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Through them, Iran is already effectively in charge of four countries in addition to its own: Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
The administration argues that OPEC, by cutting production, is doing the bidding of Russia. Wrong. OPEC, I would argue, is actually saving the U.S. from strengthening the growing Russia-Iran axis.
The punishment of energy producers in the Middle East will just hurt American consumers at the gas pump even more. The bottom line is that U.S. taxpayers, who are underwriting massive amounts of assistance to Ukraine, will be forced to still pay more at the pump because the Biden Administration wants an Iran nuclear deal — with the key support of Russia.
If you are confused, it is because the Biden administration’s foreign policy is confused. If the U.S. really believes Russia is an acute threat, the U.S. should act as if it is and stop propping up Russia’s allies, such as Iran.
The U.S. should be working with countries in the Middle East to support efforts against Russia and Iran’s regime.
No wonder questions are being raised as to just how “compromised” Biden might actually be.
The U.S. would do well to stop this foolish obsession with getting a new Iran nuclear deal. It is inconsistent with the rest of America’s values, foreign policy and national security interests. Send a clear message to Russia, Iran’s mullahs, Europe, the Middle East — and, most importantly, to Iranian and American citizens — that the Iran nuclear deal, finally, is dead.
Peter Hoekstra was US Ambassador to the Netherlands during the Trump administration. He served 18 years in the U.S. House of Representatives representing the second district of Michigan and served as Chairman and Ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee. He is currently Chairman of the Center for Security Policy Board of Advisors and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.