Joe Biden excluded Israel on Wednesday from the list of countries he said needed to be included in negotiations with Iran toward a new nuclear agreement.
In an interview with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times, Biden said that he wanted to resume talks with Iran in the hope of returning to a nuclear agreement that constrains the regime’s ability to develop nuclear weapons.
He added that he wanted to expand the number of countries at the negotiating table with Iran — but pointedly excluded Israel from the list:
The view of Biden and his national security team is that once the deal is restored by both sides, there will have to be, in very short order, a round of negotiations to seek to lengthen the duration of the restrictions on Iran’s production of fissile material that could be used to make a bomb — originally 15 years — as well as to address Iran’s malign regional activities, through its proxies in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.
Ideally, the Biden team would like to see that follow-on negotiation include not only the original signatories to the deal — Iran, the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, Germany and the European Union — but also Iran’s Arab neighbors, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Iran and Israel do not have diplomatic relations, but Israel is the country that would be most directly affected by any nuclear agreement. Iran has vowed to destroy Israel, and Israel has said it would take any necessary steps to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
One of the major flaws of the Obama administration’s Iran deal was that Israel was excluded from the talks even though its national security was directly affected by the outcome. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbied Congress and the administration to reject the deal, largely for that reason. Biden appears poised to repeat that mistake.
In addition, Biden hinted that his administration would drop sanctions against Iran — for nothing in return. Friedman, who has written that a Biden administration should make use of the leverage that Trump has created for him, asked Biden about that idea. He wrote:
Biden’s team is aware of that argument, and does not think it is crazy — but for now they insist that America’s overwhelming national interest is to get Iran’s nuclear program back under control and fully inspected. In their view, Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon poses a direct national security threat to the United States and to the global nuclear weapons control regime, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
It does not seem to have occurred to the Biden foreign policy team that maintaining sanctions are precisely the way to “get Iran’s nuclear program back under control.” Biden appears prepared to do as President Barack Obama did, dropping sanctions as an enticement for Iran to go back to the negotiating table, but without any further commitment from the regime.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.