Why Is Washington Prepared to Offer Iran Sanctions Relief in Exchange for Nothing?

July 15 2021

According to recent figures released by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Islamic Republic’s “gross official reserves” fell by more than 95 percent between 2018 and 2020. The reason for this collapse, writes Elliott Abrams, is the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal and ratchet up economic sanctions. Yet the Biden administration now seems ready to reverse course before demanding concessions from Tehran:

One of the key defenses of the Biden administration’s strategy toward Iran is that the Trump administration approach, called “maximum pressure,” failed.

Instead, the Biden administration’s approach is to give Iran sanctions relief and an injection of tens of billions of dollars if it agrees to go back to the 2015 nuclear deal, the JCPOA. Acknowledging that the JCPOA is inadequate, the Biden administration says we need a “longer, stronger, and broader” agreement that lasts longer and covers Iran’s missile program and its support for terrorism. But by lifting most sanctions and allowing Iran access to all that cash, this policy would largely eliminate Iran’s incentives to negotiate a new deal.

Whenever we hear that “the maximum-pressure campaign failed,” we ought to recall that IMF statistic: Iran’s reserves almost disappeared between 2018 and 2020. The Biden policy, which suggests that Iran will concede more while the pressure on it is reduced, is simply illogical. As the old saying goes, hope is not a strategy.

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Read more at Pressure Points

More about: Donald Trump, Iran sanctions, Joseph Biden, 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