Kushner Praises Biden’s Opening Move on Iran as Smart Diplomacy

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Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and former senior adviser, praised the Biden administration for calling “Iran’s bluff” on renewing nuclear talks, arguing that it helped show that the original 2015 deal no longer holds up.

“While many were troubled by the Biden team’s opening offer to work with Europe and rejoin the Iran deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, I saw it as a smart diplomatic move,” Kushner wrote in an op-ed Monday for the Wall Street Journal. “It revealed to the Europeans that the JCPOA is dead and only a new framework can bring stability for the future.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s spokesman said last month that the U.S. is willing to meet with Iranian negotiators to discuss a “diplomatic way forward” in efforts to return to the nuclear deal, which President Trump quit in 2018. But Iran has said the U.S. must return to the agreement first and lift sanctions. Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani has since appeared to soften those assertions, holding out the option of a gradual return to the deal.

Although President Joe Biden pledged in his campaign to rejoin the multinational accord, he faces bipartisan opposition at home to removing Trump-era sanctions on the Islamic Republic, including on its vital oil exports.

Biden’s administration has said that once Iran rejoins the deal, it would start talks for stronger and longer constraints on Iran’s nuclear program and also would seek restrictions on its ballistic missile program and its support for groups the U.S. considers terrorists.

“When Iran asked for a reward merely for initiating negotiations, President Biden did the right thing and refused,” Kushner wrote. “Iran is feigning strength, but its economic situation is dire and it has no ability to sustain conflict or survive indefinitely under current sanctions. America should be patient and insist that any deal include real nuclear inspections and an end to Iran’s funding of foreign militias.”

Kushner, a key architect of the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel and the several Arab countries led by the United Arab Emirates, urged the Biden administration to continue encouraging such rapprochement. He said several more countries are on the “brink of joining” the Abraham Accords, including Oman, Qatar and Mauritania.

“These relationships should be pursued aggressively -- every deal is a blow to those who prefer chaos,” he wrote. “Most important, normalization between Saudi Arabia and Israel is in sight. The kingdom dipped a toe in the water by granting overflight rights to Israel and, most recently, allowing an Israeli racing team to participate in the Dakar Rally.”

Kushner also brushed aside the generation-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians as “nothing more than a real-estate dispute” that “ultimately will be resolved when both sides agree on an arbitrary boundary line.”

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

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