Since the 2015 nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has received millions of dollars from the U.S., benefited greatly from sanctions relief, upgraded its centrifuges, expanded its regional influence, arrested and killed protestors, threatened Israel, and avidly pursued its ballistic-missile program. Meanwhile, the military sites where it is most likely working to build atomic weapons are protected from inspections, and the deal’s restrictions will begin to be phased out in six years. By declining to recertify the agreement, President Trump has opened the door for either scuttling it or modifying its terms. Mark Dubowitz, in conversation with Jonathan Silver, advocates the latter course of action, and discusses how Washington might best pursue it. (Audio, 62 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
How to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Program
Best Books of the Year, as Selected by Mosaic Authors
In Gaza, Israel Must Try to Restore Deterrence While Avoiding War
Early Wednesday morning, a rocket fired from Gaza landed in the city of Beersheba, striking the courtyard of a home. (The woman who lived there, and her three children, barely escaped.) Israel responded swiftly with airstrikes, and the IDF reported that this weekend was the quietest along the Gaza separation fence since March 30, when the weekly riots there began. Yet some 10,000 Palestinians still gathered at the border, burning tires and throwing stones, grenades, and makeshift explosives at Israeli soldiers on the other side. Meanwhile, writes Eran Lerman, Jerusalem faces a difficult decision about how to proceed:
The smaller terrorist organizations in Gaza—Islamic Jihad, which operates as a satellite of Iran, and radical Sunni groups inspired by Islamic State—are the primary ones that want to ratchet up the violence into a full-scale war. For them, a major war in Gaza could be an opportunity to build themselves up on the ruins of Hamas. It also looks as if Iran, too, has an interest in escalating the situation in Gaza and pulling Israel into a war that will detract from its ability to focus on its main defense activity right now: keeping Iran from digging down in Syria.
The third player consistently working to worsen the situation in Gaza and torpedo Egypt’s efforts to broker a cease-fire is the Palestinian Authority’s President Mahmoud Abbas, for whom—as he once said in Jenin— “the worse things are, the better.” . . .
All of these considerations are counterbalanced, paradoxically, by Hamas’s interest in continuing to dictate the terms of any cease-fire with Israel while refraining from a war, which the Hamas leadership knows would be self-destructive. Its moves to escalate the conflict—arson balloons, breaches of the border fence—have been intentionally selected as ways of taking things to the brink without toppling over into the abyss. . . .
And Israel? A harsh, well-defined blow is vital for it to maintain its mechanism of deterrence. A missile hitting Beersheba is not a trivial occurrence. However, as far as possible, and given the broader considerations of the regional balance of power as well as Israel’s fundamental interest in avoiding a ground war, it would be best to make the most of Egypt’s mediation.