EDITORIAL: Iran nuclear deal, 2.0

President Biden appears intent on looping back in time and reliving the Age of Obama. Since President Obama’s tenure proved a study in mediocrity, worse things could happen — and they literally might. If the president were to rejoin the Obama-era Iran nuclear agreement, he could end up begetting an outcome that the original pact thus far has not: an actual Islamic bomb. That must not happen.

Iran nuclear deal 2.0 is underway, with Mr. Biden‘s diplomats reportedly supplicating their Iranian counterparts for a pathway back into the 2015 pact that former President Trump sized up as flawed and exited in 2018. Like an unrepentant burglar hectoring police return the tools of his trade when released from jail, Tehran’s demands that the U.S. indemnify financial losses suffered when Mr. Trump scoffed at its preposterous claim to crave nuclear energy, not weapons, and imposed economic sanctions.

Free to chart his own course, Mr. Biden has reversed the Trump diplomatic strategy of bonding with moderate Middle East nations, like Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and isolating extremist Iran.

His strategy could prove costly: Sanctions associated with the U.S. “maximum pressure” campaign reduced Iranian currency reserves from $120 billion to $4 billion in two years. Ending sanctions could hand the Islamic Republic $90 billion in frozen assets, and restart the regime’s global oil sales worth an estimated $50 billion annually. The windfall would be more than enough to reinvigorate the mullahs’ terror activities, including its proxy war against Israel that Hamas prosecuted with the help of 4,300 Iran-funded missiles.

It is unsurprising, then, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Jerusalem on Tuesday not to rejoin the nuclear deal with Iran: “I can tell you that I hope that the United States will not go back to the old JCPOA because we believe that that deal paves the way for Iran to have an arsenal of nuclear weapons with international legitimacy,” said Mr. Netanyahu, referencing the deal’s acronym.

With or without such legitimacy, the Islamic regime is unrelenting in its quest to join the club of nuclear nations. Its centrifuges are currently enriching uranium to 60 percent, putting bomb-making material in easy reach, International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi told the Financial Times Wednesday. “The Iranian program has grown, become more sophisticated so the linear return to 2015 is no longer possible,” he said.

Loopholes in the original deal has given Iran an opportunity to dodge full compliance with nuclear restrictions. Even if it had honored the original deal to the letter — a dubious supposition — Iran would have been free to build nuclear weapons starting in 2030.

That’s why the Trump strategy of denying the regime the revenue to go nuclear had the best chance of succeeding. Mr. Biden, like Mr. Obama before him, is following a dangerous path that leads to an Islamic bomb.

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