Joe Biden’s pick for CIA director led the secretive “back channel” with the Iranian regime during the lead up to the Iran nuclear deal, signaling the former vice president’s continued commitment to rejoining the controversial deal that the Trump administration left in 2018.
William Burns, the president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, served as the U.S. ambassador to Jordan and to Russia, also working in a number of other key State Department posts, including deputy secretary of state from 2011 to 2014. A 2019 book by Burns, The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for Its Renewal, contained an entire chapter on “Iran and the Bomb: The Secret Talks.”
The diplomat recounted President Barack Obama’s early efforts at outreach to Iran but admitted that “this halting momentum … came to an abrupt stop when the Iranian presidential elections in June turned into a bloodbath” as the Iranian regime suppressed Iran’s Green Movement opposition in 2009. He admitted that “the White House’s public response was initially tepid” and that “in hindsight, we should have … been sharper in our public criticism from the start.”