Why the U.S. Dispatched an Aircraft Carrier to the Persian Gulf

In response to warnings of Iranian attacks on American forces in the region, National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that the USS Lincoln, accompanied by a flotilla of smaller ships, is being sent to the Middle East. Behnam Ben Taleblu and Bradley Bowman explain:

In the words of the U.S. ambassador to Russia, Jon Huntsman, Jr., America’s aircraft carriers “represent 100,000 tons of international diplomacy.” . . . The addition of these assets to the U.S. force structure in the region is a welcome development as Washington seeks to counter Iranian influence and thwart operations by Iran and its proxies in the Middle East. . . .

Iran will continue to utilize asymmetric or “gray zone” tactics, [i.e., aggressions against U.S. interests that stop short of provoking war] so long as it believes it can do so with relative impunity. However, when confronted with strength, Iran has often backed down. Indeed, under the Trump administration, naval harassment of American vessels by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps is reportedly decreasing. To explain its de-escalation to a domestic audience, the regime has twisted itself into rhetorical knots.

Ultimately, Washington’s deployment of a carrier strike group offers an opportunity to strengthen its Iran policy and make the case for tough diplomacy. As America re-orders its military priorities to focus on “great power competition,” the move signals that the Persian Gulf remains an utmost national-security interest, as does checking Iranian aggression.

Read more at The Hill

More about: Iran, John Bolton, Naval strategy, U.S. Foreign policy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy