Iran Won’t Renew Its Nuclear Deal with the U.S. under Any Circumstances

March 23 2020

A favorite refrain of many experts on the Islamic Republic is that the regime is divided between “moderates,” and “hardliners.” While such divisions indeed exist, both groups—contrary to the claims of these experts—support terrorism, obtaining nuclear weapons, and the destruction of Israel. The moderates of Iran do not share the political vision of the West; rather, explains Ray Takeyh, the moderates (or modernizers, as he calls them), favored the 2015 nuclear deal in order to acquire more advanced nuclear technology under better economic circumstances. They therefore have little reason now to support a less favorable agreement, or even a return to the 2015 terms:

The success of the modernizers means that a critical constituency that supported the previous diplomatic efforts to resolve the nuclear issue is no longer inclined toward compromise. The modernizers are in charge, and they will not concede on capabilities that they have struggled to bring online over the past few years. The Trump administration is sensibly insisting on an agreement that shuts down Iran’s enrichment plants, something that Ali Akbar Salehi [the modernizing head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran], and his cadre will not accept.

Joe Biden, like the other Democratic presidential candidates, has talked of returning to an agreement that is already disappearing as its many sunset clauses [begin to go into effect]. If the Democratic nominee wins in November and wishes to negotiate an extension of those restrictions, that effort will be met with a wall of resistance from Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization.

In today’s Iran, neither the political class nor the scientific establishment wants a new nuclear agreement. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the hardliners don’t believe that the sanctions are the primary cause of their financial predicament and insist that they can revive the economy by isolating it from global markets. They are wrong, and it makes them impossible interlocutors for enterprising Americans. In the meantime, Salehi is on the verge of modernizing a nuclear infrastructure that can produce bombs quickly and, he hopes, without getting detected. All this means he will not yield to any proposed restrictions.

It is time we abandon the delusion of arms control and focus on undermining a regime that has lost its popular mandate. The Islamic Republic is bound to follow other discredited ideological experiments of the 20th century into the dustbin of history. Instead of chasing another agreement, we must adopt Ronald Reagan’s famous dictum: we win; they lose.

Read more at National Review

More about: Ali Khamenei, Iran, Iran nuclear program, Ronald Reagan, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel’s Friendship with Iraqi Kurds, and Why Iran Opposes It

In May 2022, the Iraqi parliament passed a law “criminalizing normalization and establishment of relations with the Zionist entity,” banning even public discussion of ending the country’s 76-year state of war with Israel. The bill was a response to a conference, held a few months prior, addressing just that subject. Although the gathering attracted members of various religious and ethnic groups, it is no coincidence, writes Suzan Quitaz, that it took place in Erbil, capital of Iraqi Kurdistan:

Himdad Mustafa, an independent researcher based in Erbil, to whom the law would be applied, noted: “When 300 people gathered in Erbil calling for peace and normalization with Israel, the Iraqi government immediately passed a law criminalizing ties with Israel and Israelis. The law is clearly aimed at Kurds.” . . . Qais al-Khazali, secretary-general of Asaib Ahl al-Haq (Coordination Framework), a powerful Iranian-backed Shiite militia, slammed the conference as “disgraceful.”

Himdad explains that the criminalization of Israeli-Kurdish ties is primarily driven by “Kurd-phobia,” and that Kurd-hatred and anti-Semitism go hand-in-hand.

One reason for that is the long history of cooperation Israel and the Kurds of Iraq; another is the conflict between the Kurdish local government and the Iran-backed militias who increasingly control the rest of the country. Quitaz elaborates:

Israel also maintains economic ties with Kurdistan, purchasing Kurdish oil despite objections from Iraq’s central government in Baghdad. A report in the Financial Times discusses investments by many Israeli companies in energy, development sectors, and communications projects in Iraqi Kurdistan, in addition to providing security training and purchasing oil. Moreover, in a poll conducted in 2009 in Iraqi Kurdistan, 71 percent of Kurds supported normalization with Israel. The results are unsurprising since, historically, Israel has had cordial ties with the Kurds in a generally hostile region where Jews and Kurds have fought against the odds with the same Arab enemy in their struggles for a homeland.

The Iranian regime, through its proxies in the Iraqi government, is the most significant source of Kurd-phobia in Iraq and the driving factor fueling tensions. In addition to their explicit threat to Israel, Iranian officials frequently threaten the Kurdish region, and repeatedly accuse the Kurds of working with Israel.

Read more at Jersualem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Iran, Iraq, Israel-Arab relations, Kurds