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February 1, 2021 5:12 pm

Bloomberg Editorial Board Calls for Biden to Demand Moves on Regional Security From Iran Before Nuclear Talks

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US President-elect Joe Biden delivers a pre-Thanksgiving speech at his transition headquarters in Wilmington, Delaware, Nov. 25, 2020. Photo: Reuters / Joshua Roberts.

The Bloomberg Editorial Board has called on President Joe Biden to “demand that Iran engage in good-faith peace talks with its neighbors” before making moves toward rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal, as the new administration fleshes out its approach to the Islamic Republic.

So far, the Board wrote in a column Monday, the administration’s strategy has “the right ideas, but in the wrong order” on resuming nuclear talks with Iran.

“The regime in Tehran says regional security concerns should be addressed separately,” it said. “Biden should call this bluff and insist on the start of good-faith regional peace talks before any meaningful return to nuclear diplomacy. He should also use American leverage with Iran’s neighbors to encourage their participation, and offer non-nuclear sanctions relief in return for concrete progress.

The piece noted that the original Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, from which the Trump Administration withdrew in 2018, gave no way for countries like Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to address Iran’s other menacing activities in the region, like its support for Syria’s Bashar al-Assad and militias in Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen.

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Biden “should also use American leverage with Iran’s neighbors to encourage their participation, and offer non-nuclear sanctions relief in return for concrete progress,” it continued. “This may frustrate the other signatories of the JCPOA, but the U.S. can legitimately argue — with the help of Israel and the Arab states — that regional peace is a better outcome than merely pausing Iran’s nuclear program.”

Concessions from Iran on regional security could include a reduced presence in Syria, influence applied to Hezbollah and Hamas, or pressure on Yemen’s Houthis to strike a peace deal with Saudi Arabia.

On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned that Iran may soon be a “matter of weeks” away from enriching enough uranium to produce a nuclear bomb, if it continues breaching the limits placed by the deal. An Iranian law passed in December 2020 has ramped up such moves, with further nuclear activities pledged in the coming weeks unless sanctions are lifted.

“The threat from Tehran can’t be contained by separating the nuclear menace from other malign behavior,” said the Bloomberg editorial. “It must be dealt with in the aggregate. Biden should start by insisting that Iran demonstrate goodwill toward its neighbors if it expects goodwill from the U.S. in return.”

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