Better to Undermine Iran’s Nuclear Program Than to Conclude Another Bad Deal

July 14, 2020 | Eli Lake
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Last Friday, yet another mysterious explosion rocked a military site in the Islamic Republic, in what seems to be a coordinated attempt to sabotage Iranian nuclear ambitions—although there remains a possibility that these incidents could be accidental, and related only by coincidence. For their part, the ayatollahs have blamed Israel, and not unreasonably. Eli Lake comments on what this all means for the future of American attempts to limit the Iranian nuclear program:

Whoever wins the U.S. presidency in November, there is a good chance he will try to negotiate a stronger nuclear deal with Iran in 2021. . . . The logic of a deal goes like this: except for war, the only sustainable way to prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons is to reach an agreement with its leaders.

But a nuclear deal with Iran would have to rely on a partnership with a regime that oppresses its citizens, preys on its neighbors, supports terrorism on three continents, and has shown contempt for international law. And the alternative to a deal is not necessarily a costly and dangerous war. The West can delay and foil Iran’s nuclear ambitions by other means.

Since late June, explosions have rocked at least three Iranian military facilities. The latest appears to have targeted an underground research facility for chemical weapons. Earlier this month, a building at Iran’s Natanz centrifuge site burst into flames. . . . [T]he damage at Natanz alone has significantly set back Iran’s nuclear program. The facility there was an assembly center for more advanced and efficient centrifuges, which Iran was allowed to produce under the flawed 2015 deal.

And the damage may be to more than just the centrifuges. . . . The attacks could also undermine the regime’s legitimacy among the Iranian public more generally. Sabotage of this sort shows that Iran’s leaders are not nearly as powerful and all-knowing as they say.

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