Iran’s Resumption of Its Atomic-Weapons Program Shows the Wisdom of the U.S. Withdrawal from the Nuclear Agreement

In May, the Islamic Republic reversed course in its response to the renewal of American sanctions on its nuclear program and began to break the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal openly, but in piecemeal fashion—announcing a new violation every 60 days. Emily Landau examines these violations, and the motivation behind them:

Tehran is consistently directing its message to the Europeans, whom the Iranians accuse of not fulfilling their promise to protect Iran’s interests under the deal. Indeed, Iran is not communicating that it wants to leave the deal or that it wants the deal to collapse; rather, [its goal] is to have sanctions lifted by pressuring the Europeans to do more to help. . . . While Iran seems not to want to rock the boat—and emphasizes that all of its breaches are immediately reversible—the implications of its violations are becoming more and more serious.

In fact, experts have revised downward their estimate of the Islamic Republic’s “breakout time”—the time it would take to develop a functioning nuclear weapon—from eight-to-twelve months to six-to-eight months. Supporters of the nuclear deal have cited this as proof that Washington’s decision to withdraw from it was a mistake. Not so, says Landau:

[T]he specific violations that Iran has chosen to commit expose dangerous flaws in the agreement that were apparent from the start—most importantly its unconditional sunset clauses, [to which] Iran’s breaches would come at some point down the line. [Thus] it is preferable to confront Iran’s violations now, when it is relatively weak, than in five or ten years when the country could have become much stronger, while doing what it could to prepare the way for a quick breakout when the deal expired.

For the maximum-pressure campaign to be truly effective, there is a need for political clout to back up the economic hardship Iran is experiencing. This requires that the U.S. and Europe project that they are on the same page regarding sanctions and that they share the commitment to keep up the pressure on Iran.

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Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Iran sanctions, U.S. Foreign policy

As Vladimir Putin Sidles Up to the Mullahs, the Threat to the U.S. and Israel Grows

On Tuesday, Russia launched an Iranian surveillance satellite into space, which the Islamic Republic will undoubtedly use to increase the precision of its military operations against its enemies. The launch is one of many indications that the longstanding alliance between Moscow and Tehran has been growing stronger and deeper since the Kremlin’s escalation in Ukraine in February. Nicholas Carl, Kitaneh Fitzpatrick, and Katherine Lawlor write:

Presidents Vladimir Putin and Ebrahim Raisi have spoken at least four times since the invasion began—more than either individual has engaged most other world leaders. Putin visited Tehran in July 2022, marking his first foreign travel outside the territory of the former Soviet Union since the war began. These interactions reflect a deepening and potentially more balanced relationship wherein Russia is no longer the dominant party. This partnership will likely challenge U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe.

Tehran has traditionally sought to purchase military technologies from Moscow rather than the inverse. The Kremlin fielding Iranian drones in Ukraine will showcase these platforms to other potential international buyers, further benefitting Iran. Furthermore, Russia has previously tried to limit Iranian influence in Syria but is now enabling its expansion.

Deepening Russo-Iranian ties will almost certainly threaten U.S. and allied interests in Europe, the Middle East, and around the globe. Iranian material support to Russia may help the Kremlin achieve some of its military objectives in Ukraine and eastern Europe. Russian support of Iran’s nascent military space program and air force could improve Iranian targeting and increase the threat it poses to the U.S. and its partners in the Middle East. Growing Iranian control and influence in Syria will enable the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps [to use its forces in that country] to threaten U.S. military bases in the Middle East and our regional partners, such as Israel and Turkey, more effectively. Finally, Moscow and Tehran will likely leverage their deepening economic ties to mitigate U.S. sanctions.

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Read more at Critical Threats

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Russia, U.S. Security, Vladimir Putin