Breaking: Iran offers second concession in past week in nuclear talks

Source: Hot Air

Hmmmmm. Is this good news, or bad news?

Bad news, almost certainly, if it lets Iran off the nuclear leash again:

Iran has dropped some of its main demands on resurrecting a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear program, including its insistence that international inspectors close some probes of its atomic program, bringing the possibility of an agreement closer, a senior U.S. official told Reuters on Monday. …

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter, said that although Tehran has been saying Washington has made concessions, Iran has dropped some of its key demands.

“They came back last week and basically dropped the main hang-ups to a deal,” the official said.

“We think they have finally crossed the Rubicon and moved toward possibly getting back into the deal on terms that President Biden can accept,” the official added. “If we are closer today, it’s because Iran has moved. They conceded on issues that they have been holding onto from the beginning.”

Describing this as Iran having “finally crossed the Rubicon” is some next-level irony. Does the official know the origin of that phrase? Having Iran cross a Rubicon is not a positive development in any case if it means a return to the 2015 status quo ante of the JCPOA.

What demands got dropped? CNN reported the concessions a few minutes ago:

Iran had previously demanded that as a condition of re-entering the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the International Atomic Energy Agency had to close its investigation of undeclared nuclear material found at Iranian sites in 2019. But Iran has now dropped that demand, the senior administration official said on Tuesday. …

As CNN reported last week, Iran has also officially dropped its longtime demand that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. The Iranians also dropped demands related to delisting several companies tied to the IRGC, CNN reported. The Trump administration designated the IRGC as a terrorist organization in 2019 as part of a “maximum pressure campaign” imposed after Trump withdrew the US from the deal in 2018.

Just how much of a concession would this be, though? It might be more of a cover to get what Iran wants by some sleight-of-hand:

Neither demands regarding the IRGC or the IAEA probes were included in the text of Iran’s response last week to a draft nuclear deal agreement proposed by the European Union, officials said. It is possible, however, that if Iran cooperates with the open IAEA investigation prior to the signing of a new deal, that investigation could technically be closed by the time an agreement is officially reached.

Iran could have cooperated with that probe at any time over the past couple of years and gotten this issue off the table. They refused to do so, along with refusals to allow inspections at facilities that intelligence agencies have concluded are working on nuclear weapons projects. This looks like a face-saving way to arrange for IAEA to close its probe after a nominal and brief show of cooperation from Tehran.

The concession on the IRGC does seem somewhat more interesting. The IRGC is not just a military organization but also a massive commercial and intelligence institution that props up the mullahs while extending their dictatorial powers at the same time. Donald Trump targeted the IRGC for sanctions — and the strike on Qassem Soleimani — to curtail their reach and especially their quarterbacking of strikes on Americans in Iraq and Syria. If Biden leaves those sanctions in place, it will still bite the mullahs, but access to oil markets will simply render those revenues as fungible in the long run for IRGC operations.

Finally for now, let’s return to the “crossing the Rubicon” declaration. The “senior official” meant it as a point of no return for Iran, which one could only believe if one has never dealt with Iranian mullahs on international agreements. The reason why we’re at this stage with Iran is that they never “cross the Rubicon” when it comes to their nuclear ambitions. We have had agreements with them in place before now, including Barack Obama’s JCPOA, that supposedly left them in a point of no return on nuclear weapons only to discover that they secretly kept pursuing their nuclear-weapons ambitions.

In that sense, the mullahs have no Rubicon to cross … except in Julius Caesar’s original context. And that, my friends, is not a comforting thought in the least — not for Israel, not for the other Sunni nations in the region, and not for us either.