Abrams Says Biden Should Use Leverage Trump Built On Iran - Exclusive
Elliot Abrams, the US Special Representative for Iran and Venezuela, in an interview with Iran International Television on December 10 suggested that the incoming Biden administration can take advantage of Trump’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign on Iran to negotiate and achieve the best possible result. Abrams also said that President Donald Trump’s administration planned to do the same in 2021, if it had stayed in power.
Abrams predicting that the Biden administration will negotiate with Iran in the coming months explained that “the maximum pressure campaign’s objective is just not to pressure, the goal is to get a much better agreement. That is to build leverage”.
He went on to say that the Biden administration’s potential return to the original nuclear deal (JCPOA) would make Iran’s neighbors unhappy since they see the accord as a “very flawed deal” that is much too short, and does not cover “Iran’s missile program, its subversive behavior in the region, its aggressions, and its support of terrorism”.
Abrams said the flight of the US B52 bombers in the Persian Gulf region is a signal to Iran that the US is watching its activities: “We see Iranian behavior, all throughout the region, from the Mediterranean to the [Persian] Gulf, to the Bab al-Mandab. We see the aggression, and we see the subversion. The message is the United States is there in full force and capable of dealing with anything that Iran does.”
Abrams rejected the critics who claim the Trump administration’s maximum pressure campaign on Iran “has not worked” and said: “You know the maximum pressure campaign’s objective is not the pressure, the goal is to get a much better agreement. That is to build leverage. You don’t build that overnight. You start this campaign and with each passing month and each passing year, the leverage grows, and should then be used.
He said the Trump administration’s goal was to use this leverage in 2021, and that the leverage should not be discarded or used to get a small agreement, “it should be used to try to force them to change their behavior.”
When asked whether he believes the Biden administration will continue the maximum pressure, Abrams said he would not speak on the next administration’s plans, but added that there is a consensus in Washington that the nuclear deal was terrible, and the Biden administration should recognize that the pressure campaign has given US "enormous leverage", and they should then use that leverage to force Iran to change the way it is acting.
Abrams dismissed the comments made by Iranian officials claiming the US has “run out” of things to sanction, and said: “Sadly, because Iran’s conduct has not changed, and the regime continues to violate the human rights of Iranians, continues to support subversion and aggression and terrorism in the region and continues with its nuclear program, there are lots of targets for sanctions.”
Abrams concluded the interview with this message for the Iranian people: “On Human Rights Day, it is important, and in many ways painful to think of the sufferings of the Iranian people under this brutal regime. But we want the Iranian people to know that all of our criticisms are of the regime. We stand with the Iranian people, and we know that the day will come when they will recover the democracy that they have so long sought, and recover the respect for human rights that since the days of Cyrus has been part of their civilization.