WASHINGTON (Dispatches) -- The gambit to use sanctions to leverage further Iranian concessions didn’t work under former U.S. president Donald Trump and won’t work under current president Joe Biden, U.S. digital newspaper The Hill has said.
“Even though sanctions have taken a serious toll on the Iranian civilians, Iranian leaders are committed to weathering the storm and resisting American pressure,” it said in a commentary.
Far from turning the Iranian public against its government, sanctions have further fanned the flames of anti-U.S. sentiment in Iran, culminating in the recent election of principlist Ebrahim Raisi to replace Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, a reformer who championed a 2015 nuclear deal with the U.S. and other countries, it added.
At this pivotal crossroads, the paper said, it’s never been more important for Democrats in Congress to stand behind the nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
While the JCPOA is widely supported by the public and strongly endorsed in the Democratic Party platform, the paper said, there is a small but influential contingent of Democrats, including Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez, who have argued that Biden should hold out for a “better deal” that addresses a long list of other, non-nuclear issues, including Iran’s ballistic missile program.
“While congressional Democrats were highly critical of Trump’s maximum pressure campaign, Menendez’s “better deal” approach does not substantially break from the grim status quo. Even if well intentioned, this approach does not take into account the domestic political realities within Iran and the overriding importance of constraining Iran’s nuclear program,” The Hill added.
Biden has indicated that he would use the revival of the nuclear deal with the Islamic Republic as a springboard to a broader agreement that would restrict Iran’s missile program and regional role.
While the United States is facing an impossible mission against the new Iranian administration to expand the scope of the accord, expectations from a likely agreement are equally subdued.
A trade body for the global financial industry has said that Iran’s economic benefits would be “modest” even if the protracted talks currently underway in Vienna to coax the U.S. into removing its sanctions on Tehran bore fruit.
“The likely outcome for the JCPOA negotiations is a return to the 2015 agreement, which would keep many sanctions in place. Such a limited agreement would deter significant investment by Western firms, making a sharp pickup in growth unlikely,” the Institute of International Finance (IIF) said in a new report.