The economy of Iran, the leading state sponsor of terrorism, is on the brink of collapse. The United States should not bail it out. According to data released last week by the International Monetary Fund, Iran had more than $122 billion in accessible reserves in 2018, the year President Trump withdrew from the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
Today, the Islamic Republic is down to a paltry $4 billion in usable foreign exchange reserves. This, combined with a currency that has lost half of its value, the government’s failed coronavirus response, and millions of Iranian people taking to the streets to protest the very legitimacy of the regime, all combined, leave the Islamic Republic regime vulnerable and desperate.
While President Biden and his administration may not have had access to the report by the International Monetary Fund when they entered the Vienna Talks two weeks ago, it is critical that the United States now factor in that the Iranian regime may be on the precipice of economic collapse—and not throw them a lifeline for no good reason. Now is the time for the administration to make demands of the rogue regime in Tehran.
Firstly, Iran should release the five Americans it is currently holding hostage. Remember that the Islamic Republic is born of the original sin of taking dozens of United States Embassy staff hostage in the 1979 radical revolution. American diplomats should not be stepping foot in the city of Vienna for negotiations before these Americans are released.
Next, the administration promised to address the flaws of the Iran nuclear deal, which are numerous, by “lengthening and strengthening” it. Biden and his administration have repeatedly said that American demands would include Iran’s complete dismantling of its nuclear program. Ending its terror proxy activity and ballistic missile program; and bringing to an end its vile human rights abuses. Biden’s opinion piece last fall laid out his Iranian plan, and the State Department have echoed these points since.
At his confirmation hearing in January, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said, “But we would use [the JCPOA] as a platform with our allies and partners, who would once again be on the same side with us, to seek a longer and stronger agreement.” Blinken said that a new deal could address Iran’s “destabilizing activities” and its ballistic missile program. Blinken also pledged that terrorism sanctions against the regime won’t be lifted, a promise that apparently is on its way to being broken.
Iran, given its present circumstances, desperately needs sanctions relief and does not hold leverage in these negotiations. In contrast, the administration has the option to walk away from the Vienna Talks if American demands are not met. The administration holds a historic opportunity to finally negotiate an Iran deal which preserves United States national security. That agreement would create a new Middle East without a rogue nuclear state that supports terrorism just nine years from today.
With so much at stake for regional and international stability, the administration must understand that it would be morally bankrupt to bail out Iran with a blank check deal.