‘’Iran is not a priority for the Biden administration,’’ according to Patrick Clawson, an expert on US-Iran relations at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Addressing a webinar on the topic ‘’Iran’s nuclear program and its regional policies,’’ he said that the Biden administration has a very crowded agenda of issues on the domestic front including the recovery program, climate change and racial issues.
‘’ When it comes to foreign affairs, the Biden team is determined to show that they are not focused on the Middle East. The emphasis is really on China and Europe. On countering China’s rise and figuring out how to respond to that, and on restoring the transatlantic relationship with Europe. So the Biden team is just not terribly concerned about Iran. For Obama, the issue of nuclear non-proliferation was a passion of his political life. He was determined to get a deal with Iran so that the non-proliferation pact would not fall apart on his watch. But Biden doesn’t care about that at all,’’ said Clawson.
Does this mean that a review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear deal with Iran signed in 2015 and from which the U.S. under Trump withdrew in 2018, will remain stalled?
According to Sima Shine, a former Mossad top official who is currently senior Research Fellow at the INSS, Israel’s leading think tank, two scenarios in particular arise in the short term: one of a more cooperative Iran, the other that sees tensions and military action prevail. “Both have a 50-50 chance of asserting themselves,” he said.
‘’Israel, this is certain, is worried. It is sufficient to see how sensitive the Netanyahu government is every time that Western diplomacy says it is ready to renegotiate the nuclear agreement,” said Shine.
Joe Biden’s US ‘’disengagement’’ with Iran also implies a certain detachment of the European Union, believes Kasra Aarabi, a British-Iranian analyst in the extremism policy unit of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. He pointed his finger mainly at the increasing radius of influence in Iran of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards corps as a “destabilising element”. They are very dangerous, indoctrinating Shiite groups and they wish to project their ideals beyond the borders of Iran. This is the most serious danger Iran is facing at the moment, according to the researcher, as this group is challenging the concept of the nation-state and acquiring an increasingly central role within the state.
Currently, he concluded, the risk is that the “Islamic Republic is not looking forward, but wants to return to the status quo of 2015”.
The next presidential elections in Iran on 18 June could offer an interesting prospect of change for the Middle Eastern country, which has been economically weakened for years by American sanctions, although it will probably continue to remain under the influence of the ayatollahs and become even more radical towards any form of return to compliance of the nuclear agreement.
Biden and his administration have repeatedly said they will return to the JCPOA if Tehran first returns to compliance. Iran has insisted the US remove sanctions before it returns to the deal’s terms, putting the two sides at a stalemate.