Biden Administration Waives Sanctions on Iran’s Civilian Nuclear Program

The US State Department is waiving sanctions on Iran’s civilian nuclear program.

The waiver allows other countries and companies to participate in Iran’s civilian nuclear program without triggering US sanctions.

The State Department claims that this waiver is needed so that other countries can check the status of Iran’s enriched uranium stockpiles and proliferation activities or non-proliferation compliance.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez Lays Out Completely Where Things Are With Iran and a Proper Path Forward

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey) laid out concerns with the indirect negotiations between the US and Iran.

“Today, many of the concerns I expressed about the JCPOA back in August of 2015 are coming back to haunt us in the year 2022,” he continued. “First and foremost, my overarching concern with the JCPOA was that it did not require the complete dismantlement of Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Instead, it mothballed that infrastructure for 10 years, making it all too easy for Iran to resume its illicit nuclear program at a moment of its choosing.”

He went on to say that Iran was “back in business at Fordow, spinning its most advanced centrifuges and enriching uranium to a higher level of purity than before it entered the JCPOA.”

“We are not dealing with a good faith actor here,” he said. “Iran’s consistent obfuscation, continual stalling, and outlandish demands have left us flying blind, especially when it comes to verifying that Iran is not engaged in activities related to the weaponization process – activities related to the design and development of a nuclear explosive device – activities which were explicitly banned in Section T of the JCPOA.”

More than 5,000 operational centrifuges and nearly 10,000 not yet operational – were to be merely disconnected. Instead of being completely removed, they were transferred to another hall at Natanz where they could be quickly reinstalled to enrich uranium, which is exactly what we have seen happen over the past year.

Today, Iran has more fissile materials – 2500kg, more advanced centrifuges, and a shorter breakout time – three to four weeks – than it had in 2015.

Back in 2015, I also expressed my grave concern that Iran only agreed to provisionally apply the Additional Protocol of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty.

The Additional Protocol is what allows the International Atomic Energy Administration to go beyond merely verifying that all declared nuclear material and facilities are being used for peaceful purposes and provides it with a verification mechanism to ensure states do not have undeclared nuclear material and facilities.

In February 2021, we saw the consequences of not insisting Iran permanently ratify the Additional Protocol.

Iran simply decided they were done with the Additional Protocol and refused to allow the IAEA to fully investigate locations where it found traces of uranium enrichment.

For decades now, Iran has pursued all three elements necessary to create and to deliver a nuclear weapon.

Producing nuclear material for a weapon. The fissile material. That is basically what we just talked about – being three to four weeks away.

The scientific research and development to build a nuclear warhead. That’s why we don’t know the full dimensions of what they were doing in terms of how advanced they got to the weaponization, the ability to have the nuclear warhead that makes the bomb go ‘boom.’

The ballistic missiles to deliver them. That, they already had.

And according to a report from David Albright and others at the Institute for Science and International Security, Iran could enrich enough uranium for a second weapon in less than four months.

‘Iran now has the largest known underground complexes in the Middle East housing nuclear and missile programs.’

‘Most of the tunnels are in the west, facing Israel, or on the southern coast, across from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf sheikhdoms. This fall, satellite imagery tracked new underground construction near Bakhtaran, the most extensive complex.’

‘The tunnels, carved out of rock, descend more than sixteen hundred feet underground. Some complexes reportedly stretch for miles. Iran calls them “missile cities.”’

‘An underground railroad ferries Emad missiles for rapid successive launches. Emads have a range of a thousand miles and can carry a conventional or a nuclear warhead.’

‘The Islamic Republic has thousands of ballistic missiles, according to U.S. intelligence assessments.’

They can reach – and we can see in this map, there are different missiles. How far can they reach? Furthest, 2000 kilometers.

‘They can reach as far as thirteen hundred miles in any direction—deep into India and China to the east; high into Russia to the north; to Greece and other parts of Europe to the west; and as far south as Ethiopia, in the Horn of Africa,’ and dozens of countries in between.

‘About a hundred missiles could reach Israel.’

Tehran has shown no willingness to barter over its missiles as it has with its nuclear program.

‘It has provided the older “dumb” rocket technology to Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The majority of the “precision project” kits crossing at Abu Kamal go to Lebanon, where Hezbollah upgrades its short-range rockets and missiles to hit more accurately and to penetrate more deeply inside Israel.’

‘Hezbollah is now estimated to have at least fourteen thousand missiles and more than a hundred thousand rockets, most courtesy of Iran.’

A senior Democrat is basically saying that the 2015 JCPOA (Iran nuclear agreement) was an ineffective and seriously flawed deal. The most critical parts needed for verification were not implemented.

I have a pretty good sense of what I think ‘longer’ and ‘stronger’ means. ‘Longer’ is obvious, more time. ‘Stronger’ – dealing with elements that had not been previously dealt with.

However, a year later, I have yet to hear any parameters [from Biden and State Department] of ‘longer’ or ‘stronger’ terms or whether that is even a feasible prospect.

And even when it seemed a constructive agreement might be possible last summer, upon taking office, the Raisi government abandoned all previous understandings and, as I mentioned, made absolutely clear that Iran’s ballistic missiles and regional proxy networks are ‘not negotiable.’

Moreover, at this point, we seriously have to ask what exactly are we trying to salvage?

Iran has moved so far out of compliance with so many of the terms of the JCPOA and of the terms of UNSCR 2231.

To quote again Rob Malley, the President’s Iran negotiator, trying to revive the deal at this point would be ‘tantamount to trying to revive a dead corpse.’

It’s time to start thinking out of the box and consider new strategies for rolling back Iran’s nuclear program and addressing its dangerous and nefarious activities. These new efforts should include creative diplomatic initiatives, stricter sanctions enforcement, and a steely determination from Congress to back up President Biden’s declaration that Iran will ‘never get a nuclear weapon on my watch.’

“One critical first step is vigorously enforcing the sanctions we have in place,” said Menendez. “Of course, we must be realistic here. Former president Trump’s disastrous withdrawal from the JCPOA hampered our ability on the sanctions front.”

He said the Biden administration “must rigorously enforce our sanctions, including targeting Chinese entities in a way that will impose a serious cost,” and to use sanctions “to crush the illicit, underground economy of Iranian oil shipments throughout the world.

We must use our sanctions to crush the illicit, underground economy of Iranian oil shipments throughout the world.

The best guarantee of a sustainable, diplomatic agreement with Iran and the international community is to build one that garners bipartisan political support.

One such idea that I have been working on with Senator Graham is a regional nuclear fuel bank that would provide Iran with access to fuel on the condition it forgoes all domestic uranium enrichment and reprocessing.

This idea may sound lofty, but it’s worth noting that the IAEA already runs a nuclear fuel bank that provides access to members in the event of a disruption to their existing fuel arrangements.

In the future, such a fuel bank – a regional fuel bank – could even be expanded to guarantee that any Arabian Gulf state, or further beyond in the Middle East for that matter, can peacefully fuel its commercial nuclear reactors through the IAEA fuel bank. That means, you don’t enrich, but you get the fuel necessary if you want domestic energy consumption.

As we look to a new approach, I also believe we should revisit a number of the proposals I laid out in 2015.

First, we should seek the immediate ratification by Iran of the Additional Protocol to ensure that we have a permanent international agreement with Iran for access to suspect sites.

Second, we need a ban on centrifuge R&D for the duration of such an agreement – because it is that advanced R&D that has allowed Iran to be four weeks away from crossing the nuclear threshold so that Iran cannot have the capacity to quickly breakout. Just as the UN Security Council Resolution and sanctions snapback is off the table.

Third, Iran should close the Fordow enrichment facility. After all, the sole purpose of Fordow was to harden Iran’s nuclear program to a military attack. But if Iran has nothing to hide, and it is all for peaceful purposes, why do you put it deep underneath a mountain?

Fourth, the world needs full resolution of the ‘possible military dimensions’ of Iran’s program.

Iran and the IAEA must resolve the issue before permanent sanctions relief takes place. Should Iran fail to cooperate with a comprehensive review into the military dimensions of their program, then automatic sanctions must snapback.

Fifth, rather than extend the duration of the agreement, we need a permanent agreement. One of the single most concerning elements of the original deal is its 10-15 year sunset of restrictions on Iran’s program, with off ramps starting after year 8. Think about it. 2015 to 2022. Seven years. Shows you how quickly Iran can be proceeding in a way we do not want them to be able to proceed.

And sixth, we need agreement about what penalties will be collectively imposed by the P5+1 for Iranian violations, both small and midsized, as well as a clear statement as to the so-called grandfather clause in paragraph 37 of the JCPOA, to ensure that the U.S. position about not shielding contracts entered into legally upon re-imposition of sanctions is shared by our allies. Everybody should be in the same boat.

We cannot allow Iran to threaten us into a bad deal or an interim agreement that allows it to continue to build its nuclear capacity.

Nor should we cling to the scope of an agreement that it seems some are holding on to for nostalgia’s sake.

We need an agreement that will create a free and prosperous but nuclear weapon free Iran.

46 thoughts on “Biden Administration Waives Sanctions on Iran’s Civilian Nuclear Program”

  1. The Chinese have an entire autonomous region controlled by a brown shirt paramilitary tasked with exterminating religious minorities that is where the world gets its solar panels, people with panels on their roofs are abetting mass muder(except if they have thin films such as First Solar).

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  2. Nordstream runs under the sea, we control 100% of the worlds oceans. Germany has no need for fossil fuels they have solar power, it is very cheap, coal and oil can't compete, and the sun shines steadily for billions of years, if Germany needed any power, not just clean power, they wouldn't close their nuclear plants,unless their politicians were working for the Russians,if that is the case, we should demolish both Nordstreans,let Germany get its gas from Urkraine maybe then they'd get off their rears and up to the front line with their old pals.

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  3. Thorium plants need enriched Li a key component of thermonuclear weapons, there is no need to help Iran get atomic weapons yet this is precisely what every move by Biden does, what we need is immediate operation to completely destroy their enrichment facilities.
    In a bout 2 weeks Iran will have enough U235 for a few weapons and Biden will say well we can't do anything they might hurt someone, besides, after cancelling Keystone 2,and lowering the amount of oil available to Americans,Joe desperately wants more oil, just not from Americans ,he wants oil from Russia and Iran,to bolster their profits so they can launch more cyber attacks on American infrastructure,and fund Iran backed terrorists world wide.
    Every move Joe does hurts the US and helps our enemies, what can we do? We can't have Donald who tried to steal the election, the best course is to vote for anti Trump Republicans.

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  4. So you're against free speech and democracy. Which basically means your no different than Hitler or Stalin, both of which were very much deserved of capital punishment. Should you be executed as well?

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  5. "I can't see how Iran vs Israel, even if nuclear, turns into WW3."

    I recall the history of WW1. It all started with the assassination of the Austrian Archduke. One death lead to the deaths of millions. It's shortsighted to think a nuclear war between Israel and Iran would not have 2nd and 3rd order effects that could lead to a larger war. In all of human history one constant theme is that events constantly spiral out of control.

    Moreover, the radioactive fallout would spread across the globe. That includes your home, wherever that may be. So, no don't be reassured.

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  6. You mean of course the Palestinian State and its fellow partners in crime: Hamas and Hezbollah. The terrorist triad of Islamo-fascists who have dedicated they're lives to destroying Israel.

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  7. This is just none of America's business. Nuclear deal is just a fig leaf for remaining uninvolved, the correct policy.

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  8. Yeah, like all recent US Presidents, he says it. Like half of recent US Presidents, his actions don't agree with his words.

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  9. individualism in a context of community. religion that, for the most part, does not directly deny technology and innovation. Worldwide donors, sponsors, and powerful supporters. A society of common purpose with a dedicated defensive and initiative-taking military/ politics. And, they are facing neighbors and foes in the region that have very little of all these.

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  10. The simplest approach is to just burn it up in place; You have to go to considerable trouble to avoid that happening in a Thorium reactor, actually.

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  11. Actually, like all previous U.S. presidents, Biden says Iran must never get a nuclear weapon. Whether he'll be the last president to say that b/c Iran actually gets on, remains a possibility. I'm trying to think outside the box, since JCPOA has failed/been broken by the U.S./been violated by Iran.

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  12. Lots of customers…Germany is not critical. I think we could export a lot more (but we are likely to be the biggest exporter this year). There are not enough natural gas tanker ships. But it is growing https://www.statista.com/statistics/468412/global-lng-tanker-fleet/
    If I were the Fed, I would be building a large ship building complex in Puerto Rico, and getting a bunch of natural gas ships built, and other ships. They have a great harbor, and low wages. They get nothing thrown their way because they have no votes in Congress. Maybe also offer tax benefits to natural gas exporters, designed to encourage them to order and buy natural gas transport ships…from wherever.

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  13. The sooner Iran develops nuclear ICBMs, the better off everyone will be because it will end the love of adventurism as a means to distract the natives in the US.

    The same would greatly help Afghanistan, but I dont see a possibility of a viable society capable of developing nuclear ICBMs for the foreseeable future, and simply giving anyone nuclear tech is always a bad idea.

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  14. There would also be a mad dash to leave the area. The number of refugees would be astronautical. And we would have to find a way to feed them (400million+: 100 million in Egypt, 220 million in Pakistan, 84 million in Turkey), because it would just be inhumane to let them all starve…though, only so much could be done. And people with roots in these countries would be pressuring governments to get even, not help one side or the other. Refugees from one country killing another. A lot of Egyptians would flee south, and Africa would be a wreck, as they eat all the wildlife. It would get very ugly.
    There could be temporary pressure to get rid of all nuclear arms…but that has been the only thing holding back wars. Then there would be people trying to save the wildlife…
    Even people not in the immediate area would get nervous about their health and future, and try to get to further away countries.
    People will be drawn back to go back to pumping oil, likely endangering their health, but starvation may be the only alternative. There will be pressure to buy and pressure to not buy this oil that is costing the lives of the workers…
    There would also likely be major oil spills all over, as the mining equipment will be destroyed, and there could be many open wellheads. Oil tankers in the harbors would be destroyed… Oil storage areas will also be destroyed. Radiation clouds could go any direction along with the soot from burning oil.

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  15. Yeah, it's a crappy bomb material.
    If you have access to a full nuclear weapons program and Los Alamos level ability to construct an implosion device, then you wouldn't look at U233.
    Same as the US military doesn't bother with Ammonium Nitrate and Diesel when making explosives.
    But if you are concerned with somebody putting together a couple of Baby's first Weapons of Mass Destruction, then you can't ignore the crappy-but-available option when recommending that they adopt Thorium power.

    Especially as the Thorium enthusiasts seem to regard it as a major selling point that it is impossible to use the tech for weapons.

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  16. If you're really good at building bombs, maybe. It tends to be contaminated with U232, and even build it up after fabrication. As a consequence the base level of radioactivity makes it hard to work with, and subject to premature detonation and thus squib reactions.

    Not impossible, of course, but it's not the bomb material of choice by a long shot.

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  17. The one reassuring aspect is that I can't see how Iran vs Israel, even if nuclear, turns into WW3.

    I mean it would suck if you live anywhere from Pakistan to Egypt, but other continents would be just fine (well, except for $200/b oil for a while).

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  18. How do we have a say in Nordstream 2? What we have, appears to have been used. Last I heard, the Germans are not going to turn it on if Russia invades Ukraine again. The Germans have to get their power and heat from somewhere. So, at best, this is a delay. I don't think the US is going to offer natural gas by ship in the quantities needed and at a comparable price. What would your administration, if you had one, have done differently regarding Russia?
    The EastMed pipeline would not really be a "competing pipeline". It is going to Greece. It also was only in the planning stage while Nordstream 2 is built, except a bit of spit and polish. There is a competing plan to the EastMed pipeline. That is a more direct Egypt to Greece pipeline.
    Do we want the Germans to get more coal plants burning their crummy coal? They are not going to reopen the nuclear reactors any time soon. Too many deceived people.
    And if we can't stop Iran from getting a bomb short of using one, what is the point of continuing the pressure?
    I do see some issues with what the administration did. It does make it somewhat more complex for Israel to take out the reactor again, as there could be casualties from European nations.
    I don't know. If Israel really thinks blowing up the reactor again is going to be in their interests, they will likely just do it. It does not look like Iran is taking that reactor route to the bomb anyway. Just centrifuges…likely far underground.

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  19. I don't think we can stop them from making a weapon. All the deals where we give them money are pointless.
    The best thing we can do is produce more oil, conserve more oil by intelligent actions (not reducing travel, or making oil expensive here), and export perhaps 8 million barrels per day. Get a barrel of oil to half the current price. When Russia and Iran are getting much less for their exports, they will not be able to make much chaos. They can't afford it because banks don't lend to them.

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  20. Yep. The world's attempt to modernize the infrastructure of the developing world, especially Africa and South America in the middle of last century, especially through building of reinforced concrete residential and bridges failed miserably. Inhabited by livestock, crumbling, and looted for materials, these testaments to 1st world hubris but also local apathy/ stubborness only foster resentment. With globalization pulling back (and reduced foreign aid and involvement), countries can now seek out their own path of success, stagnation, or decline. Increased self-reliance or ???

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  21. many view this technology gifting (or charity) as cultural predation. Do like the pandemic vaccines and give them tech and knowledge discreetly, rebrand it, so their population will never know.

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  22. The Iranian government is very spiritual,they have the duty to destroy Israel,and the United States ,at least the Democrats seem too support that view.Important for Jo Biden to cancel Keystone 2 that would have moved Canadian and American crude, now we can enrich the Iranians and Russians,and more importantly ,give Iran time to make enough material for multiple bombs so when that happens they can throw up their hands and say What can we do?

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  23. Not to be a single-minded obsessive like that Dan person, but a possible 'one true way' is the Charter City. A little region of rich world productivity and regulation built in a country but that allows a quick transfer of tech, example, and self-improvement by the locals participating as much as they want – like an economic embassy.
    https://www.chartercitiesinstitute.org/intro

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  24. I think a work-focussed population is less likely to be a threat and consumed by its own distractions and poor world standing. But modularity and cheap infrastructure and standardized tech to give a family or community or region a leg-up has been tried throughout Europe in the 1970s to 90s, which just created slums and masses of poorly maintained housing stock (concrete towers) and zones of rampant violence. I think it is more about an attitude of individualism and self-reliance that spawns individual success and nearby emulation, which may somewhat spread. This is super rare in the world's older cultures with larger families and poorer services; which tends to lead to gangs and tribalism — worse than even communism.

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  25. Agreed. Easily-replaceable, modular, non-weaponizable, and highly configurable tech to build up a system with little internal cohesiveness/ productive collaboration. Perhaps the future cheap end of EVs, portable fusion power, centralized and de-centralized solar, and cel and data communication is now very decentralized. Food and other daily consumables can be created in more automated and self-contained facilities. If we had to build a new society on an island with little else, what would do? Probably only possible on the expected tech, as above, at the end of this decade and beyond.

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  26. Utter Nonsense.
    This part of the world, at this time, in the current state of earth's technology, has little to negligible potential. They are obsessed with their standing in the world, foster intense and violent class warfare, are guided by simplistic notions of cultish religion and group-identity politics, are smothered by ridiculous historic conflicts and alliances, etc. Which is not the end of the world if they have a well-trained populace with a good work ethic/ entrepreneurial spirit – but no.They are little better than school yard brats and bullies.
    What are the constitutents of a successful (and therefore peaceful and collaborative) country:
    Natural Resources: number one factor for growth, up to now: oil resources, good natural harbor (major transit point), coal, iron ore, arable land.
    Deregulation: Economic superpowers are trade allies of the entire world. US and UK only developed from free trade.
    Technology: pivotal role in economic growth. Industrial revolution started because of technological advances. Consider Germany –  destroyed twice in World Wars
    and under communist occupation – yet most developed in Europe.
    Human Resources: to progress economically must ensure that its citizens have access to high quality, affordable education.
    Infrastructure: China: invested in infrastructure, paid for itself. Lowest manufacturing costs. Cheaper Electricity. Carriers transport across continents cheaply; largest exporter and second largest economy.

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  27. From the OP
    "The scientific research and development to build a nuclear warhead. That’s why we don’t know the full dimensions of what they were doing in terms of how advanced they got to the weaponization, the ability to have the nuclear warhead that makes the bomb go ‘boom.’"

    What R&D?

    A quote from Luis Alvarez given in the Wikipedia article on him.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luis_Walter_Alvarez

    "With modern weapons-grade uranium, the background neutron rate is so low that terrorists, if they had such material, would have a good chance of setting off a high-yield explosion simply by dropping one half of the material onto the other half. Most people seem unaware that if separated U-235 is at hand, it's a trivial job to set off a nuclear explosion, whereas if only plutonium is available, making it explode is the most difficult technical job I know."

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  28. Of course they did.

    This administration's guiding principle seems to be, "How can we help the West's enemies as much as possible in the limited time we have available?"

    Approving Nordstream 2. Blocking the competing EastMed pipeline. And now doing what they can to assist Iran's nuclear breakout.

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  29. See that's the million dollar question, right??! I don't know if any public can know for sure. Nobody had any business stopping a civilian power generation program. I suppose there can still be gears that it'll be misused by religious dictators. That gives for any power production program in any country, though. Again, that's really baking too much into a nutshell.

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  30. Another option would be to actually help Iran build Thorium-base nuclear power plants. Thorium cannot be made into plutonium which is necessary for nuclear weapons. We would have to also make sure they don't just build thorium plants and do uranium bomb-making on the side.

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  31. Whether or not Iran is able to separate the civilian program from a military one remains to be seen. I think there can be peaceful nuclear power anywhere as long as the people want it. Not that it's easy. It's not easy to stop religious dictators (which I know is a only a tiny part of the picture– there's thousands of years of history, unless I'm mistaken, and I might be).

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  32. I'm a very spiritual person, but I've always wanted to bar all religion from government and enact laws that mandate capital punishment for politicians for even suggesting laws or the slightest of regulations that could be construed as anything from religious perspective (one might gather that I'm not the kindest person on this planet, but there you have it). I've never cared what constituents think. I believe in one-hundred percent separation of church from state, but I'll never get that in my lifetime.

    Sadly, that kind of thing usually only comes with totalitarianism, which should not be the case. It's my opinion (and that's all it is, an opinion) that spirituality is personal and government should stay out of spirituality unless it's being used to harm people in some way.

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  33. I can't say this surprises me.
    The Iranian President made it clear he intends to start WW3 by destroying Israel, even if it means the complete nuclear destruction of Iran.
    He believes this will summon forth the "Mahdi".

    I'm really not looking forward to the upcoming developments.

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