Withdrawing from the 2015 Nuclear Deal with Iran Was the Right Move—Even if the Ayatollahs Are Closer to the Bomb

Citing statements from several high-ranking security officials from the Netanyahu government, a recent article in the Israeli daily Haaretz argues that the U.S. withdrawal in 2018 from the nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic—flawed though it was—only served to bring that country closer to possessing atomic weapons. Eli Lake rejects this conclusion:

The argument is straightforward: President Trump withdrew from the deal and reimposed economic sanctions, but the Iranians held tight. At first slowly, but then brazenly, Iran’s regime began to stockpile more nuclear fuel, upgrade its centrifuges, and advance its nuclear program. In retrospect, the former Israeli officials now say, it would have been better to remain in the deal.

But context is everything. . . . Iran’s recent nuclear advances—the International Atomic Energy Agency announced this week that Iran is enriching uranium to 20 percent at an underground facility—would have been delayed but not prevented under the 2015 deal. The restrictions on uranium enrichment, for example, would have expired in 2031.

Another important piece of context is that in 2017, when Trump took office, Iran was using the financial windfall from the deal—unfrozen assets and the removal of sanctions—to send cash to its meddling proxies in the Middle East, improve its missile program, and intensify its regional war on U.S. allies. At the very least, Trump’s economic pressure made all those efforts more difficult.

More context: Iran’s leaders bet on the Democrats returning to power in 2021, and that’s why they made no serious effort to negotiate when Trump was president. Had Trump been re-elected in 2020, it’s possible the Iranians would have entered negotiations to avoid four more years of economic pain.

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Read more at Bloomberg

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

 

What Israel Can Offer Africa

Last week, the Israeli analyst Yechiel Leiter addressed a group of scholars and diplomats gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss security issues facing the Horn of Africa. Herewith, some excerpts from his speech:

Since the advent of Zionism and the birth of modern Israel, there has been a strong ideological connection between Israel and the African continent. . . . For decades, [however], the notion that the absence of peace in the Middle East was due the absence of Palestinian statehood prevented a full and strategic partnership with African countries. . . . The visits to Africa by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—in 2016 to East Africa and in 2017 to West Africa—reenergized the natural partnership that was initiated by Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1960s.

There is much we share, many places where our interests converge. And I don’t mean another military base in Djibouti. . . . One such area involves the safety of waterways in and around the Red Sea. Curtailing contraband, drugs, arms smuggling, and other forms of serious corruption are all vital for us. . . . But the one critical area of cooperation I’d like to put the spotlight on is in the realm of food security, or rather food insecurity.

Imagine Ethiopia’s cows producing 30 or 40 liters of milk a day instead of the two or three that they produce today. Imagine an exponential rise in (organic) meat exports to Middle Eastern and even European countries, the result of increased processing, storage, and transportation possibilities. Cows today can have a microscopic chip behind their ears that sends messages to the farmer’s computer or mobile phone that tracks what the cow ate, what its temperature is, and what care it might need. Imagine a dramatic expansion of the wheat yield that can make Ethiopia a net exporter of wheat—to Egypt, perhaps in the context of negotiations over the waters of the Nile.

Israel has proven technology in all of these agricultural areas and we’re here; we’re neighbors. We are linked to Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa, in so many ways.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Africa, Ethiopia, Israel diplomacy, Israeli agriculture, Israeli technology