The Iran nuclear deal is dead, according to the nominee that President Joe Biden has put forth for the No. 2 role in the State Department.
On Thursday, Kurt Campbell said during his confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that negotiations that would revive the Iran nuclear deal aren’t on the table any longer.
The Biden administration has been stating for years now that they would like to re-examine the possibility of entering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, which former President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of during his time in the White House.
Now, though, it seems as if that stance has changed.
Biden nominated Campbell to be the Deputy Secretary of State, a position that’s open now that Wendy Sherman has retired.
The JCPOA was initially signed with Iran while former President Barack Obama was in office, and Biden was his vice president. The deal gave Iran relief from economic sanctions that amounted to billions of dollars, with Iran agreeing to put limitations on its activities related to nuclear enrichment in exchange.
Trump thought the deal was no good for the U.S., though, and so he pulled the country out of it.
The Biden administration has attempted to get back to the negotiating table with Iran since it entered the White House in January 2021, but those efforts didn’t prove fruitful.
Last fall, Iran started to ramp up its enrichment of uranium at the same time that negotiators for their side took a much more antagonistic posture. That led Biden to confide privately that the deal was all but dead.
Campbell seemed to make those intonations public on Thursday during his Senate confirmation hearing.
It’s a fairly abrupt about-take from the official U.S. position that was made public even recently. In fact, just last week, top officials from European nations and the U.S. said they were concerned that the window through which the 2015 Iran nuclear deal could be revived was rapidly closing.
The negotiations on a new deal started early last year, but they were paused in June because of the presidential election in June. That election saw a new government installed, with ultra-conservative President Ebrahim Raisi taking charge.
Re-entering the Iran nuclear deal is not a universally-supported thing in the U.S., regardless of what political party you’re talking about. Many politicians are very weary of dealing with Iran at all, for fear that they won’t uphold their end of the bargain.
Still, the Biden administration has pushed forward with diplomacy with Iran. A prisoner exchange this year saw Tehran and Washington turn over prisoners to each other.
The U.S. also agreed to unfreeze $6 billion in assets that were held in South Korea. Those funds were turned over to Qatar before getting to Iran.
Many Republicans heavily criticized Biden for that move, saying the U.S. placated Iran too much.