Iran’s Recent Troublemaking Is a Sign of Weakness

January 14, 2021 | Yossi Kuperwasser
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While the Islamic Republic last week captured a South Korean oil tanker, and announced that it has begun producing weapons-grade uranium, it has let the anniversary of the death of the generalissimo and terrorist mastermind Qassem Suleimani go by without any acts of revenge—despite threats of major military action. Yossi Kuperwasser sees this behavior as a sign that the ayatollahs are trying to pressure President-elect Joe Biden into reentering the 2015 nuclear deal, but afraid of doing anything to provoke an American response:

In light of [the past two years of intense U.S.] economic pressure, the Iranian situation is entirely different from the image its leaders are trying to project. The new Iranian measures reflect distress. The economic pressure and regional developments—the Abraham Accords and the reconciliation between Qatar and Saudi Arabia—worry Tehran.

For now, Iran will be happy to take [a] safe bet on the way to a toothless nuclear agreement that will give them not only one nuclear bomb but a large arsenal of nuclear weapons in a decade—without suffering militarily or economically. The declared willingness of Iran to return to the agreement testifies to its preferences.

The appropriate response to the Iranian move is to make clear that any attempt to move towards acquiring of enough enriched uranium for the production of nuclear weapons will be met harshly, and in this context, “all options are on the table.” At the same time, the economic pressure must continue in order to compel Iran to accept a new agreement that would scrupulously prevent any possibility of its stockpiling nuclear weapons, which includes full oversight everywhere and at all times, the lifting of restrictions on the duration of the agreement, the demolition of the enrichment facility in Fordow, and the inclusion of [restrictions on] ballistic missiles in the deal.

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