American Self-Delusion about Iran Continues

Two of the most important arguments made in favor of the nuclear deal with Iran were that it would strengthen that country’s so-called moderates and that it would allow the West to monitor the Islamic Republic’s nuclear activities more closely. Actually, Elliott Abrams contends, the events of the past few weeks alone have demonstrated the wrongheadedness of both arguments, and the capacity of the deal’s defenders for wishful thinking:

[The] charade [of moderates’ success in Iranian elections] has in fact worked well, producing headline after headline in the Western media about “reformist” victories. You can fool most of the people some of the time, or at least most of the people who have a strong desire to be fooled—because they wish to protect the nuclear deal and its authors.

Iran’s conduct certainly suggests radicalization rather than moderation, and the past weeks have seen repeated ballistic-missile tests. Ballistic missiles are not built and perfected in order to carry 500-pound “dumb” bombs; they are used to carry nuclear weapons. So Iran’s continued work on them suggests that it has never given up its nuclear ambitions, not even briefly for the sake of appearances. . . .

Two missiles were test-fired . . . with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” written on them. These tests violate UN Security Council resolutions, but the American reaction is cautious: a speech, a debate in New York, perhaps some sanctions, but nothing that could possibly lead Iran to undo the nuclear deal. Because Iran knows that this will be the Obama administration’s reaction, expect more and more ballistic-missile tests. Expect more conduct like the interception, capture, and humiliation of American sailors in the Gulf. Expect more Iranian military action throughout the region.

Some moderation. . . .

Are we . . . gaining unparalleled insight into the Iranian nuclear program? . . . The International Atomic Energy Agency’s February 26 report was its first since the nuclear deal went into effect, and lacked details on matters such as uranium stockpiles, production of certain centrifuge parts, and progress by Iran toward meeting safeguard obligations. . . . The deal was sold, in part, as a way of providing transparency, but that does not appear to be accurate: it may in fact legitimize opacity.

Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security