Russia Stands to Gain Billions from a Revived Nuclear Deal with Iran

April 14 2022

“The Biden administration,” notes Andrea Stricker, “has two goals that are at odds with each other.” It wishes to ramp up economic pressure on Moscow, and to revive the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran. That deal was an economic boon to Russia, enabling the Kremlin to undertake civil nuclear projects in the Islamic Republic worth billions of dollars. In 2019, the Trump administration announced that Russian entities would face sanctions for continued nuclear work in Iran; in February 2022, the Biden administration waived these sanctions. Stricker argues in favor of a swift “course correction.”

Last month, Russia forced a pause in the Vienna talks to ensure the protection of its financial interests. Moscow seeks to resume several civil nuclear projects in Iran that it previously carried out under the JCPOA, [or Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the 2015 deal is formally known], such as a $10 billion contract for Russia to build two additional reactor units at the Bushehr nuclear power plant. The Kremlin also seeks to recoup a $500 million debt for past work. More broadly, Russia wants to avoid running into Western sanctions for any such nuclear work in Iran.

Yet there is no technical reason a nuclear deal with Iran should protect the Kremlin’s interests. On March 22, when reporters asked whether Moscow had to be the party that carries out JCPOA-permitted projects, the U.S. national security advisor Jake Sullivan stated, “We don’t have to rely on any given country for any particular element of the deal, but that is a role that Russia played in the past.” The following day, the State Department spokesman Ned Price seemed even more amenable to protecting Moscow’s interests; he said Russia’s role was one “we’d be willing to entertain.”

This approach is mistaken, especially for an administration that claims it wants to hold Russia accountable for its aggression against Ukraine. Furthermore, according to an April 8 Washington Free Beacon report, if Moscow retains participation in these projects, several Russian state-run firms stand to benefit.

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Read more at FDD

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, Russia

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