By Trying to Restrain Israel, the White House Is Sending the Wrong Message to Iran

Two years ago yesterday, an American missile ended the life of Qassem Suleimani, the Iranian generalissimo who directed the expeditionary arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and coordinated the activities of a formidable network of militias and terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. While the strike on Suleimani was a response to a series of attacks on U.S. troops and U.S. allies in the previous year, Suleimani had been fighting the American military in Iraq, and terrorizing the country’s civilians, since 2003. Eli Lake considers some of the repercussions of his death:

After the Suleimani strike, Iran’s militias continued probing attacks on U.S. positions in Iraq, while Iran’s scientists continued to install more advanced centrifuges in its nuclear facilities. But Iran stopped menacing commercial ships, and U.S. embassies did not face more mobs. And while some of this can be explained by the coronavirus pandemic, President Trump’s show of force was also a factor.

While President Biden has eased economic pressure on Iran and opened negotiations, he also responded to an attack on American positions by Iran-backed guerrillas with a missile strike, showing that he too is not afraid to use force. But, Lake explains, not all his decisions have been so tough-minded:

Most troubling, . . . the U.S. has let it be known that it does not approve of Israeli intelligence operations against Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Some administration officials doubt the efficacy of Israel’s sabotage and assassinations inside Iran, according to the New York Times, fearing that they provide an incentive for Iran to build back its nuclear program better.

This is the wrong message. Not only does it risk alienating America’s most important ally against Iran, . . . it also risks more provocations from Iran: if the regime’s leaders believe they face only economic consequences for their predations, then they will continue to test America’s resolve.

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Read more at Bloomberg

More about: Iran, Iraq, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy

 

The New Iran Deal Will Reward Terrorism, Help Russia, and Get Nothing in Return

After many months of negotiations, Washington and Tehran—thanks to Russian mediation—appear close to renewing the 2015 agreement concerning the Iranian nuclear program. Richard Goldberg comments:

Under a new deal, Iran would receive $275 billion of sanctions relief in the first year and $1 trillion by 2030. [Moreover], Tehran would face no changes in the old deal’s sunset clauses—that is, expiration dates on key restrictions—and would be allowed to keep its newly deployed arsenal of advanced uranium centrifuges in storage, guaranteeing the regime the ability to cross the nuclear threshold at any time of its choosing. . . . And worst of all, Iran would win all these concessions while actively plotting to assassinate former U.S. officials like John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, and [his] adviser Brian Hook, and trying to kidnap and kill the Iranian-American journalist Masih Alinejad on U.S. soil.

Moscow, meanwhile, would receive billions of dollars to construct additional nuclear power plants in Iran, and potentially more for storage of nuclear material. . . . Following a visit by the Russian president Vladimir Putin to Tehran last month, Iran reportedly started transferring armed drones for Russian use against Ukraine. On Tuesday, Putin launched an Iranian satellite into orbit reportedly on the condition that Moscow can task it to support Russian operations in Ukraine.

With American and European sanctions on Russia escalating, particularly with respect to Russian energy sales, Putin may finally see net value in the U.S. lifting of sanctions on Iran’s financial and commercial sectors. While the return of Iranian crude to the global market could lead to a modest reduction in oil prices, thereby reducing Putin’s revenue, Russia may be able to head off U.S. secondary sanctions by routing key transactions through Tehran. After all, what would the Biden administration do if Iran allowed Russia to use its major banks and companies to bypass Western sanctions?

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Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear deal, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy