The New Iran Deal Looks Even Worse Than the Old One

At the end of last week, the U.S. appeared ready to agree to an updated version of the 2015 agreement to restrain the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. Richard Goldberg explains why the forthcoming deal would be even worse than its predecessor:

Under the deal, Iran would get access to more than $100 billion, which it could spend on terrorism, missiles, and the pursuit of regional hegemony. Enforcement remains weak or non-existent, so there is no barrier to Iran’s crossing the nuclear threshold at a time of its choosing. Terrorism sanctions imposed on the Central Bank of Iran, the National Iranian Oil Company, and a host of other banks and companies will be suspended without any evidence that these institutions are no longer engaged in financing terrorism.

But wait, there’s more: America may trust Russia to maintain custody of Iran’s enriched-uranium stockpile with a promise to return the stockpile to Iran if the U.S. ever reimposes sanctions.

The original deal left Iran’s nuclear-enrichment capabilities intact, provided no restrictions on the development of nuclear-capable missiles, and came with expiration dates—or “sunsets”—on key international restrictions. The first sunset, lifting a UN ban on transferring conventional arms to Iran, arrived in late 2020. The next one, lifting a UN ban on transferring missile parts to Iran, arrives next year. The deal then allows Iran to conduct the very same nuclear work that we see today in the years that follow.

Moscow loves the old deal, especially the sunsets. Russia stands to make a lot of money off arms sales if Biden rescinds Trump’s executive order. That’s on top of the money Putin will already make building nuclear-power plants in Iran.

Since Goldberg wrote these words, the Kremlin has held up the agreement, possibly to use it as leverage against the U.S. As Russia is a party to the 2015 deal, the new version can’t be finalized without its approval.

Read more at FDD

More about: Iran nuclear program, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin

To Save Gaza, the U.S. Needs a Strategy to Restrain Iran

Since the outbreak of war on October 7, America has given Israel much support, and also much advice. Seth Cropsey argues that some of that advice hasn’t been especially good:

American demands for “restraint” and a “lighter footprint” provide significant elements of Hamas’s command structure, including Yahya Sinwar, the architect of 10/7, a far greater chance of surviving and preserving the organization’s capabilities. Its threat will persist to some extent in any case, since it has significant assets in Lebanon and is poised to enter into a full-fledged partnership with Hizballah that would give it access to Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps for recruitment and to Iranian-supported ratlines into Jordan and Syria.

Turning to the aftermath of the war, Cropsey observes that it will take a different kind of involvement for the U.S. to get the outcomes it desires, namely an alternative to Israeli and to Hamas rule in Gaza that comes with buy-in from its Arab allies:

The only way that Gaza can be governed in a sustainable and stable manner is through the participation of Arab states, and in particular the Gulf Arabs, and the only power that can deliver their participation is the United States. A grand bargain is impossible unless the U.S. exerts enough leverage to induce one.

Militarily speaking, the U.S. has shown no desire seriously to curb Iranian power. It has persistently signaled a desire to avoid escalation. . . . The Gulf Arabs understand this. They have no desire to engage in serious strategic dialogue with Washington and Jerusalem over Iran strategy, since Washington does not have an Iran strategy.

Gaza’s fate is a small part of a much broader strategic struggle. Unless this is recognized, any diplomatic master plan will degenerate into a diplomatic parlor game.

Read more at National Review

More about: Gaza War 2023, Iran, U.S. Foreign policy