Why Nuclear Negotiations with Iran Are Failing

Despite the Biden administration’s promises both to return to the 2015 multilateral agreement to limit the Islamic Republic’s nuclear-weapons program, and to turn it into a “longer and stronger deal,” the past year has shown little evidence of progress. Talks have stopped and started, but the parties are no closer to an agreement than when they began, and all the while Tehran is moving closer to producing an atomic bomb. Jake Wallis Simons writes:

The talks began with a spectacular American misstep. As soon as the starting gun was fired, U.S. negotiators amazed international partners by [presenting] a proposal that was so generous that the Iranians had to rub their eyes to believe it. In the minds of the Americans, this was a take-it-or-leave-it offer, straight out of the box. But it did not come across that way to Tehran.

Once the Iranians had caught their breath and climbed back onto their chairs, they set about demanding further concessions, in the belief that this was only the U.S. opening position. The Americans continued to insist that this was a one-time offer—but crucially failed to back this up by walking away from the table or putting forward punishing consequences. So the Iranians kept on demanding. This resulted in what can only be described by the Hebrew term balagan, [a chaotic mess], as any real sense of pressure and jeopardy dissolved.

On the British side, things are more coherent. Despite some disagreements, London’s stance is firmer. This has led to the unexpected state of affairs in which Britain is more sympathetic to the Israelis than America. As a result, Jerusalem is expending particular effort in lobbying London to save the U.S. from itself.

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that 2022 will be Iran’s year. The ayatollahs have already eased the effects of Western sanctions by pivoting economically to China and Russia, and are picking off Gulf states one-by-one. Despite an alliance with Israel, the UAE is now Iran’s second-largest oil customer. Only the Saudis continue to hold entirely firm against Iranian influence.

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Read more at Spectator

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

 

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