Why Germany Turns a Blind Eye to Iranian Violations of the Nuclear Deal

July 14 2017

Last week, the news broke that German police had found evidence of the Islamic Republic’s efforts to buy nuclear and missile technology forbidden by the 2015 agreement. Charges were filed against three German citizens for violating export laws by selling 51 special valves, meant to be used in a nuclear reactor, to an Iranian company. Nonetheless, Berlin, a party to the nuclear deal, will not take any action against Tehran, for reasons Michael Rubin explains:

[W]henever reports of cheating threaten to derail non-proliferation agreements, governments invested in those agreements are willing to bury the evidence to make a quick buck. Often, the [U.S.] State Department is [also] willing to look the other way in order to keep the process alive. That was the case with Iraq in the 1980s, North Korea in the 1990s, and Iran in the first half of the last decade. . . .

German diplomats have [in the past] not only been willing to excuse Iranian terrorism, but also nuclear cheating. [In] 2003, . . . despite finding that Iran had been developing a uranium centrifuge-enrichment program for eighteen years, and a laser-enrichment program for twelve years, the German foreign minister Joschka Fischer corralled European Union authorities into giving the Islamic Republic another chance.

German leaders might preach human rights and the virtues of multilateralism, but when it comes to the Islamic Republic, the German government’s desire to promote business always trumps holding Iran to account. Yes, Iran likely seeks to renew and advance its nuclear-weapons program. Iranian leaders correctly calculate that even if they paraded a nuclear missile through the streets of Tehran or tested a warhead in their southeastern desert, German authorities would embrace any excuse, however implausible, to look the other way, deny reality, and run interference—all in order to keep trade channels open.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Germany, Iran nuclear program, Nuclear proliferation, Politics & Current Affairs

Iran, America, and the Future of Democracy in the Middle East

Nov. 23 2022

Sixty-two days after the death of Mahsa Amini at the hands of the Islamic Republic’s police, the regime has failed to quash the protest movement. But it is impossible to know if the tide will turn, and what the outcome of the government’s collapse might be. Reuel Marc Gerecht considers the very real possibility that a democratic Iran will emerge, and considers the aftershocks that might follow. (Free registration required.)

American political and intellectual elites remain uneasy with democracy promotion everywhere primarily because it has failed so far in the Middle East, the epicenter of our attention the last twenty years. (Iraq’s democracy isn’t dead, but it didn’t meet American expectations.) Might our dictatorial exception for Middle Eastern Muslims change if Iran were to set in motion insurrections elsewhere in the Islamic world, in much the same way that America’s response to 9/11 probably helped to produce the rebellions against dictatorship that started in Tunisia in 2010? The failure of the so-called Arab Spring to establish one functioning democracy, the retreat of secular democracy in Turkey, and the implosion of large parts of the Arab world have left many wondering whether Middle Eastern Muslims can sustain representative government.

In 1979 the Islamic revolution shook the Middle East, putting religious militancy into overdrive and tempting Saddam Hussein to unleash his bloodiest war. The collapse of Iran’s theocracy might be similarly seismic. Washington’s dictatorial preference could fade as the contradictions between Arab tyranny and Persian democracy grow.

Washington isn’t yet invested in democracy in Iran. Yet, as Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has often noted, American hostility toward the Islamic Republic has been damaging. If the theocracy falls, Iranians will surely give America credit—vastly more credit that they will give to the European political class, who have been trying to make nice, and make money, with the clerical regime since the early 1990s—for this lasting enmity. We may well get more credit than we deserve. Both Democrats and Republicans who have dismissed the possibilities of democratic revolutions among the Muslim peoples of the Middle East will still, surely, claim it eagerly.

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Arab democracy, Democracy, Iran, Middle East, U.S. Foreign policy