By Jim Geraghty, National Review
At some point, the Biden administration will have to stop letting the Iranians urinate on its shoes while it’s inviting them to further negotiations about their nuclear program. Tehran is not interested in making concessions, and it is not interested in changing its behavior. The mullahs think the Biden administration is a bunch of naïve suckers, and they don’t really hide their contempt.
For starters, the U.S. must not make concessions to regimes that plot to kidnap American citizens who dare criticize that regime:
In an indictment unsealed in federal court in Manhattan, four Iranians were charged with conspiring to kidnap the journalist and author, Masih Alinejad.
. . . The four defendants all live in Iran and remain at large, the prosecutors said, identifying one of them, Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, 50, as an Iranian intelligence official and the three others as “Iranian intelligence assets.” A fifth defendant, accused of supporting the plot but not participating in the kidnapping conspiracy, was arrested in California.
The indictment describes a plot that included attempts to lure Ms. Alinejad, an American citizen, to a third country to capture her and forcibly render her to Iran. The intelligence official, Mr. Farahani, and his network used private investigators to surveil, photograph and video record Ms. Alinejad and members of her household in Brooklyn, the government said.
The extensive surveillance that Mr. Farahani’s network procured included the use of a live, high-definition video feed depicting Ms. Alinejad’s home, prosecutors said.
“This is not some far-fetched movie plot,” William F. Sweeney Jr., the head of the F.B.I.’s New York office, said in a statement.
. . . Another of the agents, Kiya Sadeghi, researched a service offering what the government described as military-style speedboats for a self-operated maritime evacuation out of Manhattan; and maritime travel from New York to Venezuela, whose leadership has friendly relations with the Iranian government.
Meanwhile, beyond New York City:
- In Iraq, “a senior Iranian Revolutionary Guard commander urged Iraqi Shiite militias to step up attacks on U.S. targets during a meeting in Baghdad last week, three militia sources and two Iraqi security sources familiar with the gathering said.”
- The new Iranian president-elect, Ebrahim Raisi, used to head the country’s judiciary, and in that position he had “administrative oversight over the executions of individuals who were juveniles at the time of their crime and the torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment of prisoners in Iran, including amputations. . . . Previously, as deputy prosecutor general of Tehran, Raisi participated in a so-called ‘death commission’ that ordered the extrajudicial executions of thousands of political prisoners in 1988.”
- The outgoing Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, still wants to revive the Obama administration’s nuclear deal, but he just gave a speech warning that his country could enrich uranium at weapons-grade levels of 90 percent if it desired.
- The commander of the Iranian military’s navy, Hossein Khanzadi, recently stated that the presence of the country’s vessels in the Atlantic Ocean “is a response to U.S. claims that Iran would never be able to have a presence in the Atlantic.”
- A notorious group of hackers “tied to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps has waged a covert campaign targeting university professors and other experts based in the U.K. and the U.S., trying steal their sensitive information, according to research by the cybersecurity firm Proofpoint.”
When the Iranians take actions such as those, the Biden administration looks foolish for removing Iranian oil-company officials from financial blacklists, lifting sanctions on Iranian energy companies, and contemplating lifting sanctions on Iran’s ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Why are we making life easier for a regime that keeps trying to kill or otherwise harm our citizens and our allies?
The International Monetary Fund just released new figures indicating that the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign had dramatically reduced Iran’s “Gross Official Reserves” — that is, its holdings of gold and foreign currencies by official monetary institutions — from $122 billion in 2018 to $4 billion in 2020. Between sanctions and the problems of COVID-19, the Iranian regime was quickly going broke*. Elliot Abrams observes that, “Whenever we hear that ‘the maximum pressure campaign failed,’ we ought to recall that IMF statistic: Iran’s reserves almost disappeared between 2018 and 2020.” By unilaterally relieving some sanctions in hopes of some future concessions, the Biden administration is grabbing defeat from the jaws of victory.
Read more at National Review.