The International Atomic Energy Agency Must Tell the Truth about Iran’s Nuclear Violations

Next month, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will present a formal report on the Islamic Republic’s adherence to its obligations under the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which it signed in 1970, and reaffirmed in the 2015 nuclear agreement. Thus far, the organization has been slow in admitting that Tehran has both denied it full access to the relevant sites and failed to provide necessary information. Jacob Nagel and Andrea Stricker explain why this might finally change:

Iran has, since April, refused to cooperate with the nuclear watchdog’s inquiry, preferring to stall for time and to enter into lengthy and futile discussions. Iran has rejected cooperation in recent weeks, even after multiple high-level IAEA visits. . . . To ratchet up the pressure on Tehran and better to address the nuclear threat it poses, the agency should issue a detailed account of what it knows about the regime’s past and possibly ongoing nuclear-weapons efforts.

The IAEA recently gained new information about this, thanks to a daring 2018 Israeli raid on a nuclear warehouse just outside of Tehran. . . . Until recently, the IAEA’s investigation into the archive materials languished. The watchdog did not issue a broader, written report on issues relating to Iran’s nuclear compliance until March. It only did so after a change in leadership and persistent pressure from key member states, such as the United States.

Following a separate tip from Israel, the agency learned about a site known as Turquz-Abad—another warehouse with containers allegedly holding nuclear material and equipment for conducting tests relevant to nuclear weapons. Yet it did not act in time. Under the eyes of commercial satellites, Iran spirited away the contents and, in a massive sanitization campaign, tried to wipe the site clean.

The [IAEA] should continue to demand immediate and unrestricted access to sites, people, and information it deems relevant from the nuclear archive and other sources, re-asserting its authority over the Iran investigation. If the Islamic Republic refuses to cooperate, the Board of Governors should vote to send the matter to the United Nations Security Council for countermeasures, including the re-imposition of sanctions lifted by the flawed 2015 nuclear deal. A renewed coalition to pressure on Tehran is needed to address the regime’s nuclear program from its roots.

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Read more at Newsweek

More about: Iranian nuclear program, Mossad, Nuclear proliferation, U.S. Foreign policy

Reengaging the Syrian Government Has Brought Jordan an Influx of Narcotics, but Little Stability

As Syria’s civil war drags on, and it seems increasingly unlikely that Bashar al-Assad will be overthrown, Arab states that had anathematized his regime for its brutal treatment of its own people have gradually begun to rebuild economic and diplomatic relations. There are also those who believe the West should do the same. The case of Jordan, argues Charles Lister, shows the folly of such a course of action:

Despite having been a longtime and pivotally important backer of Syria’s armed anti-Assad opposition since 2012, Jordan flipped in 2017 and 2018, eventually stepping forward to greenlight a brutal, Russian-coordinated Syrian-regime campaign against southern Syria in the summer of 2018. Amman’s reasoning for turning against Syria’s opposition was its desire for stability along its border, to create conditions amenable to refugee returns, and to rid southern Syria of Islamic State cells as well as an extensive Iranian and Hizballah presence.

As hundreds of thousands of Syrian civilians were swiftly besieged and indiscriminately bombed from the ground and air, Jordan forced its yearslong Free Syrian Army partners to surrender, according to interviews I conducted with commanders at the time. In exchange, they were promised by Jordan a Russian-guaranteed reconciliation process.

Beyond the negligible benefit of resuming trade, Russia’s promise of “reconciliation” has resolutely failed. Syria’s southern province of Daraa is now arguably the most unstable region in the country, riddled with daily insurgent attacks, inter-factional strife, targeted assassinations, and more. Within that chaos, which Russia has consistently failed to resolve, not only does Iran remain in place alongside Hizballah and a network of local proxy militias but Iran and its proxies have expanded their reach and influence, commanding some 150 military facilities across southern Syria. Islamic State, too, continues to conduct sporadic attacks in the area.

Although limited drug smuggling has always existed across the Syria-Jordan border, the scale of the Syrian drug trade has exploded in the last two years. The most acute spike occurred (and has since continued) immediately after the Jordanian king Abdullah II’s decision to speak with Assad on the phone in October 2021. Since then, dozens of people have been killed in border clashes associated with the Syrian drug trade, and although Jordan had previously been a transit point toward the prime market in the Persian Gulf, it has since become a key market itself, with Captagon use in the country now described as an “epidemic,” particularly among young people and amid a 30-percent unemployment rate.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Drugs, Jordan, Middle East, Syrian civil war