Iran Needs an Ultimatum, Not a New Deal

Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, is shown during a press conference with IAEA chief Rafael Grossi in Tehran on March 4, 2023. Grossi was in Iran for talks after the discovery of uranium particles enriched to near weapons-grade level. (Photo by Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty Images)

Five years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered a shocking revelation to the world: Iran had cheated from the start on the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, concealing an atomic weapons archive from Western negotiators and U.N. inspectors. Not long after, the Trump administration withdrew from the deal—formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—and thus fulfilled one of his major campaign promises. 

President Joe Biden vowed to reenter the nuclear deal if he were elected, and his administration has participated in several rounds of negotiations, all of which failed. Now, European powers are pressuring Biden once again to jump back into that deal—or an even weaker one—while still not having a full picture of Iran’s clandestine activities. 

Reviving the deal now would be a mistake. Instead, the United States and other signatories to the JCPOA should press Iran to come clean about its nuclear program and close down proliferation-sensitive activities once and for all. 

When the United States and its European allies concluded the Iran deal in 2015, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) could find no evidence of nuclear weapons development by the regime after 2009. The West took this as a green light to lift sanctions in return for temporary nuclear restrictions and few answers from Iran. 

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