By Aaron Kliegman American policy toward Iran has become a deeply partisan issue. We can thank the Obama administration and its allies, who made support for the 2015 nuclear deal a litmus test of loyalty for Democrats. And don’t forget how President Barack Obama relentlessly demonized the accord’s critics, even comparing them to the murderous thugs running Iran. “It's those hardliners chanting ‘Death to America' who have been most opposed to the deal,” Obama said in August 2015. “They're making common cause with the Republican caucus.” The Obama administration’s toxic campaign to defend a severely flawed deal fostered visceral partisanship at home. The result has been devastating: A country so divided on Iran cannot create effective, enduring policies to combat Iran’s nuclear and imperial ambitions. To prove the point, look no further than the International Monetary Fund’s latest regional report for the Middle East and Central Asia. According to the report, Iran had $122.5 billion in accessible foreign exchange reserves in 2018. Last year, however, that figure plummeted to an astonishingly low $4 billion. The reason for the drop? President Donald Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018, reimposing the economic sanctions on Iran that were lifted under the deal. Indeed, the data is clear: The Trump administration’s policy of exerting maximum economic pressure on Iran was working. If only the policy had lasted more than two years and change. Of course, it didn’t, because Joe Biden entered the White House in January. And President Biden, who served as Obama’s No. 2 and filled his staff with alumni of the Obama administration, was eager to return to the nuclear deal. Still, there was some initial hope that, despite wanting to revive the nuclear deal, Biden would do so in a responsible manner. In fact, he and his team assured the public they would not remove sanctions prematurely to convince Tehran to return to negotiations. Biden even said at one point he would only relieve the economic pressure if Iran stopped enriching uranium beyond the limits of the nuclear deal. Naturally, Iran said the opposite: It would only stop its egregious violations of the nuclear deal if the US lifted sanctions first. In other words, nuclear blackmail. The situation was turning into a game of chicken. And Biden swerved first. “We are prepared to take the steps necessary to return to compliance with the , including by lifting sanctions that are inconsistent with the ,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said last week. His comments followed just two days of indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna on returning to the nuclear agreement. Meanwhile, the Iranians seem quite satisfied with the status of negotiations, calling them a “success” while bragging about their “nuclear achievements.” Iran’s strategy for the past several months has been simple and obvious: Ramp up its enrichment of uranium and other nuclear activities to scare Biden into reentering the nuclear deal quickly. Regardless of Biden’s intention, he’s sending the message to Iran’s leaders that their strategy is working. So, Tehran will continue pushing the peddle to floor, aggressively moving closer toward the capacity to build nuclear weapons. Iran believes Biden will continue caving. If he does, the regime will get an economic lifeline, a most needed and most undeserved reprieve from maximum pressure. Not to mention the nuclear deal is advantageous to Iran beyond economics, paving a path for Iran to have an industrial-sized nuclear program and obtain nuclear weapons. Fortunately for the US — and, indeed, the entire world — the US may have just gained new leverage in talks with Iran, no thanks to Biden. On Sunday, an explosion destroyed much of Iran’s nuclear facility near the city of Natanz, including thousands of centrifuges. The site is one of the regime’s key centers for enriching uranium. According to reports, an explosive device was smuggled into the facility and detonated remotely, taking out both the primary and backup electrical systems. While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, all indications suggest Israel was behind it. Without the ability to enrich uranium at Natanz for several months, Iran may actually lose leverage in negotiations over its nuclear program — if the US takes advantage of this opportunity. But it will be difficult for Washington to make up for its abandonment of maximum pressure against Iran. As the International Monetary Fund’s report shows, harsh economic sanctions were crippling Iran’s economy. If Biden had sustained and intensified his predecessor’s policy for at least four more years, Iran would have been forced to renegotiate the nuclear deal or face an implosion at home. At the very least, the regime would have had to choose between its survival and sustaining its robust levels of funding to its nuclear program and foreign terrorist proxies. Alas, Biden chose another path — as would any Democrat who was elected president. Because of how Biden and Obama poisoned the national debate over Iran in 2015, maximum pressure was always going to be a non-starter on the left. The bottom line: As destructive as the nuclear deal is to the Middle East, Biden and Obama caused greater damage in Washington, DC.