While continuing to develop its ballistic-missile program, sponsor terrorism, and push the limits of the nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic insists that the U.S. is failing to keep its end of the bargain and piles on new demands. The tactic, notes Emily Landau, has proved disturbingly effective:
After Iran [complained that] the United States, by continuing to demonize it—in [Ayatollah Ali] Khamenei’s words, promoting “Iranophobia”—is effectively torpedoing economic deals between Iran and European companies, Secretary of State John Kerry met with [the Iranian foreign minister, Mohammed Javad] Zarif to try to smooth over the differences. The administration announced that it would not stand in the way of foreign entities doing business with Iran; moreover, it announced its intent to buy 32 tons of Iran’s excess heavy water to the tune of $8.6 million, making good on its show of goodwill.
While justifying this decision as a worthwhile deal for the United States, the administration ignored the implicit message to Iran that it is fine to produce heavy water in excess of the JCPOA limit. Generally speaking, while President Obama has noted that it may be Iran’s problematic behavior that is scaring off foreign investors, the United States has nevertheless refrained from pushing back with determination against Iran’s false narratives. The administration’s response to Iran’s missile tests that violated UN Security Council resolutions was delayed and relatively mute, failing to highlight Iran’s ongoing support for terror. . . .
If America finally calls Iran’s bluff and begin to push back, threats of further sanctions should go hand-in-hand with exposing Iran’s rhetorical tactics for what they are: a war of words that require the United States to fight back.