Iran Presses Its Advantage in Vienna

Negotiations in Vienna to revive the Iran nuclear deal have dragged out for more than a year; as Prabhat Jawla notes, “the Biden administration’s hopes for a quick restoration of the 2015 agreement, unilaterally abandoned by Donald Trump, have been hampered from the outset.” Jawla examines some of the reasons behind the prolonged discussions, along with the possible consequences for domestic constituencies in both Iran and the United States.

By simply stating its intent to negotiate [based] on the original [2015] deal, the Biden administration squandered the leverage left by Trump’s Iran policy, which had seen Iran’s oil revenues plummet and the country’s economy experience recession for consecutive years. Biden, during the campaign, pledged, “I would rejoin the agreement and use our renewed commitment to diplomacy to work with our allies to strengthen and extend it.” Tehran, for its part, saw this as an opening and has since pressed for more from the negotiations, such as guarantees against future sanctions and the removal of the terrorist label from the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), none of which were part of the original deal.

Concessions to Iran have already been greeted by a furious response from Biden’s detractors. First was the release of Iranian funds frozen in South Korea in cooperation with the United States in a trade-off for payment of approximately $18 million (which Iran owed the United Nations in arrear dues), and then a restoration of Iran’s voting rights in the UN General Assembly.

Critics have also pointed to Iran’s release in March of two British hostages—Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori—in return for releasing almost £400 million in debt from Britain held up by U.S. sanctions (although the U.S. State Department has denied involvement).

Read more at RealClear Defense

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

Israel’s Covert War on Iran’s Nuclear Program Is Impressive. But Is It Successful?

Sept. 26 2023

The Mossad’s heist of a vast Iranian nuclear archive in 2018 provided abundant evidence that Tehran was not adhering to its commitments; it also provided an enormous amount of actionable intelligence. Two years later, Israel responded to international inspectors’ condemnation of the Islamic Republic’s violations by using this intelligence to launch a spectacular campaign of sabotage—a campaign that is the subject of Target Tehran, by Yonah Jeremy Bob and Ilan Evyatar. David Adesnik writes:

The question that remains open at the conclusion of Target Tehran is whether the Mossad’s tactical wizardry adds up to strategic success in the shadow war with Iran. The authors give a very respectful hearing to skeptics—such as the former Mossad director Tamir Pardo—who believe the country should have embraced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. Bob and Evyatar reject that position, arguing that covert action has proven itself the best way to slow down the nuclear program. They acknowledge, however, that the clerical regime remains fully determined to reach the nuclear threshold. “The Mossad’s secret war, in other words, is not over. Indeed, it may never end,” they write.

Which brings us back to Joe Biden. The clerical regime was headed over a financial cliff when Biden took office, thanks to the reimposition of sanctions after Washington withdrew from the nuclear deal. The billions flowing into Iran on Biden’s watch have made it that much easier for the regime to rebuild whatever Mossad destroys in addition to weathering nationwide protests on behalf of women, life, and freedom. Until Washington and Jerusalem get on the same page—and stay there—Tehran’s nuclear ambitions will remain an affordable luxury for a dictatorship at war with its citizens.

Read more at Dispatch

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, Mossad, U.S. Foreign policy