Ex-US official says Biden not aware of JCPOA return urgency

TEHRAN, Mar. 13 (MNA) – "I don’t think that Biden adequately understands the urgency of doing so quickly before the situation enters another downward spiral," Ex-White House official says.

While US President Joe Biden has said he wants to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), known commonly as the Iran nuclear deal, administration officials have claimed the onus is on Tehran to reverse moves taken in its nuclear program since 2019 beyond JCPOA limits.

On the other hand, it was reported last Monday that Joe Biden has appointed Richard Nephew who is the author of 'The Art of Sanctions' and seen as the architect of US sanctions on Iran under former President Barack Obama, as Deputy Special Envoy for Iran.

Until his appointment on Monday, Nephew served as a senior research scholar at the Centre on Global Energy Policy at Columbia University and has been a non-resident senior fellow in the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at the Brookings Institute.

Many believe that Richard Nephew has both the ability to increase and decrease sanctions; Because he was involved in designing the sanctions. Therefore, the best person to reduce sanctions is himself. Of course, this will be independent of his personal attitude, because, in the American system and developed countries, the personal attitude has no place.

US President Biden signs a series of executive orders at the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office 

Regarding the US President's policies towards Saudi Arabia, as the Democratic candidate during the 2020 election campaign, Biden promised he would take swift action against the nation for its multiple human rights abuses. At one point, he referred to Saudi Arabia as a "pariah state" that would "pay the price," but hopes of a tougher stance against the Saudi kingdom have not come to fruition in the first month under his administration.

Many believe that Biden is walking a tightrope as he negotiates his nation's always complicated relationship with Saudi Arabia. Even as US intelligence released a report alleging that Prince Mohamad Bin Salman was not just aware of the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, but approved it, the new administration has taken a softer public stance than expected.

To know more about these issues, we reached out to Professor Frank von Hippel, an American theoretical physicist, and a Professor of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University. Following is the text of the interview with him:

Sanctions Expert Richard Nephew at NTI Seminar

Commenting on Richard Nephew's return to the US administration who is known as the architect of US sanctions against Iran, while many believe that his return would mean tightening sanctions against Iran despite Biden's previous promises, Prof. von Hippel believes that sorting out and undoing US sanctions will require expertise and Nephew’s responsibility will be in that area. 

US sanctions that have hurt Iran’s ability to import medicines and other essentials of life are immoralReferring to different labels of US sanctions against Iran, he said that one problem is that different reasons have been given for different sanctions adding, also lifting some sanctions may require Congress to agree and Congress is deeply divided over the JCPOA.   

Regarding the harms and hardship that sanctions inflict on the general population, although von Hippel said, "I agree that sanctions targeted at the whole country damage mostly the general population."

"I also agree that the US sanctions that have hurt Iran’s ability to import medicines and other essentials of life are immoral," he says sanctions are better than war. 

Also referring to Biden's delay in returning to the JCPOA despite his promises before taking office, von Hippel said, "I still believe that Biden plans to rejoin the JCPOA but has been exasperated by the slowness. I don’t think that he adequately understands the urgency of doing so quickly before the situation enters another downward spiral."

Suadi King Salman with US President Joe Biden

Under Trump and Obama, the US was complicit in the Saudis’ war crimes against the Yemeni peopleRegarding Biden’s policy towards Saudi Arabia and Saudi war against Yemen, he said, "Some of us would have liked Biden to go further against Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) beyond making public that the US believes MbS ordered Kashoggi’s death and sanctioning the executioners. But there is a tremendous difference between the Biden and Trump administrations on Yemen. Under Trump and Obama, the US was complicit in the Saudis’ war crimes against the Yemeni people. No longer under Biden. 

With regard to defending Saudi Arabia, no one wants a war between Iran and Saudi Arabia. I don’t think the US should favor Saudi Arabia over Iran in their power struggle through proxies in other countries. I think that the US can go further in balancing its relations with the two countries.  But I think that this has been a good first step."

*Professor Frank von Hippel was the Assistant Director for National Security in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. He now serves on the National Advisory Board of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, the research arm of Council for a Livable World.

Interview by Zahra Mirzafarjouyan

News Code 170896

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