The U.S. Must Use Its Leverage against Iran

Dec. 10 2020

In an interview by Jackson Richman, Elliott Abrams, the U.S. special representative for Venezuela and Iran, discusses the dangers of returning to the 2015 nuclear agreement with Tehran (formally known as the JCPOA), and how Washington might go about negotiating a better deal. He first addresses the successes of the White House’s “maximum-pressure campaign” of economic warfare against the Islamic Republic:

The purpose of the campaign was to build leverage that can be used to force Iran to stop doing the many malicious things it’s doing. . . . We were very critical of the JCPOA for many reasons. [One] is that it covered nuclear activities only. It didn’t cover their missile program. It didn’t cover Iran’s support for terrorism and its many malign activities throughout the region. How do you get Iran to stop doing all of that when they don’t want to? The answer is you need to build up a lot of pressure on them. The leverage is there, which means the campaign has succeeded. Now the question is how that leverage will be used.

Returning to the JCPOA is not like turning a light switch on, off, on, off. Five years have passed since the JCPOA was agreed upon. The first [of its sunset clauses] has already come [into effect in the form of repealing] the arms embargo, and frankly, it’s unbelievable when you think about it that any American administration would have agreed to such a short amount of time to go by before allowing Iran to be able to import and export such serious weaponry as advanced combat jets. And there are more sunsets coming in the next few years.

You can’t just say, “OK, we’re back in JCPOA this morning.” The United States will have some demands of Iran, like exporting the enriched uranium that it now possesses far in excess of what it agreed to in 2015. And the Iranian government has asked for sanctions relief.

My hope is that the next administration recognizes that we have the upper hand. Iran’s economy is reeling. Iran’s people despise this regime, as they showed in [the mass protests of] November of last year. There is no reason that we have to make all sorts of concessions to Iran. They are the ones who need relief.

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Read more at JNS

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

 

How European Fecklessness Encourages the Islamic Republic’s Assassination Campaign

In September, Cypriot police narrowly foiled a plot by an Iranian agent to murder five Jewish businessman. This was but one of roughly a dozen similar operations that Tehran has conducted in Europe since 2015—on both Israeli or Jewish and American targets—which have left three dead. Matthew Karnitschnig traces the use of assassination as a strategic tool to the very beginning of the Islamic Republic, and explains its appeal:

In the West, assassination remains a last resort (think Osama bin Laden); in authoritarian states, it’s the first (who can forget the 2017 assassination by nerve agent of Kim Jong-nam, the playboy half-brother of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un, upon his arrival in Kuala Lumpur?). For rogue states, even if the murder plots are thwarted, the regimes still win by instilling fear in their enemies’ hearts and minds. That helps explain the recent frequency. Over the course of a few months last year, Iran undertook a flurry of attacks from Latin America to Africa.

Whether such operations succeed or not, the countries behind them can be sure of one thing: they won’t be made to pay for trying. Over the years, the Russian and Iranian regimes have eliminated countless dissidents, traitors, and assorted other enemies (real and perceived) on the streets of Paris, Berlin, and even Washington, often in broad daylight. Others have been quietly abducted and sent home, where they faced sham trials and were then hanged for treason.

While there’s no shortage of criticism in the West in the wake of these crimes, there are rarely real consequences. That’s especially true in Europe, where leaders have looked the other way in the face of a variety of abuses in the hopes of reviving a deal to rein in Tehran’s nuclear-weapons program and renewing business ties.

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Read more at Politico

More about: Europe, Iran, Israeli Security, Terrorism