Europe Has an Easy and Effective Way to Sanction Iran—If It’s Serious about Doing So

Nov. 11 2022

In a recent interview, the French president Emmanuel Macron called for a tougher approach to Tehran, reflecting a growing sentiment in Europe, brought on both by the Islamic Republic’s violent response to mass protests and its support for Russia. The EU is already considering issuing new sanctions. But if it wants to have a significant impact on Iran, Richard Goldberg explains, Europe should take advantage of UN Security Resolution 2231, which ratified the 2015 nuclear deal and suspended previous sanctions:

UNSCR 2231 also came with a “snapback” mechanism: a way for the original state parties to the Iran deal—the five permanent members of the Security Council plus Germany—to force the return of all prior UN sanctions if Tehran violates its commitments. With Iran today spinning enough advanced centrifuges to produce high-enriched uranium for several nuclear bombs, any party could at any time notify the Security Council that Iran is breaking its nuclear deal commitments. This would trigger a 30-day clock before all prior resolutions—and their restrictions—come back into force. Russia or China would then have the opportunity to offer a Security Council resolution to block the snapback, but it would be subject to the veto held by the other permanent members Britain, France, and the United States.

Besides the strong signal it would send to the regime in Tehran, completing snapback would have other key benefits. Snapback means the UN arms embargo would return, and the missile embargo, [set to expire next year], would stay.

By contrast, reviving the deal and allowing remaining UN sanctions to lapse means throwing Iran a financial lifeline when it is most vulnerable. Under the proposed terms of the shorter, weaker nuclear accord the United States offered Iran in recent months, Tehran would receive an estimated $275 billion in revenue during the first year, rising to $1 trillion total by 2030. Iran would retain the ability to expand its nuclear-centrifuge program with an eye toward the deal’s full expiration in 2031.

In short, the regime could fortify its economy, quash the popular uprisings, and emerge with an unstoppable nuclear threshold capability simply by saying “yes” to the deal on offer.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Emmanuel Macron, European Union, Iran, Iran nuclear program

How Israel Can Break the Cycle of Wars in Gaza

Last month saw yet another round of fighting between the Jewish state and Gaza-based terrorist groups. This time, it was Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) that began the conflict; in other cases, it was Hamas, which rules the territory. Such outbreaks have been numerous in the years since 2009, and although the details have varied somewhat, Israel has not yet found a way to stop them, or to save the residents of the southwestern part of the country from the constant threat of rocket fire. Yossi Kuperwasser argues that a combination of military, economic, and diplomatic pressure might present an alternative solution:

In Gaza, Jerusalem plays a key role in developing the rules that determine what the parties can and cannot do. Such rules are designed to give the Israelis the ability to deter attacks, defend territory, maintain intelligence dominance, and win decisively. These rules assure Hamas that its rule over Gaza will not be challenged and that, in between the rounds of escalation, it will be allowed to continue its military buildup, as the Israelis seldom strike first, and the government’s responses to Hamas’s limited attacks are always measured and proportionate.

The flaws in such an approach are clear: it grants Hamas the ability to develop its offensive capabilities, increase its political power, and condemn Israelis—especially those living within range of the Gaza Strip—to persistent threats from Hamas terrorists.

A far more effective [goal] would be to rid Israel of Hamas’s threat by disarming it, prohibiting its rearmament, and demonstrating conclusively that threatening Israel is indisputably against its interests. Achieving this goal will not be easy, but with proper preparation, it may be feasible at the appropriate time.

Revisiting the rule according to which Jerusalem remains tacitly committed to not ending Hamas rule in Gaza is key for changing the dynamics of this conflict. So long as Hamas knows that the Israelis will not attempt to uproot it from Gaza, it can continue arming itself and conducting periodic attacks knowing the price it will pay may be heavy—especially if Jerusalem changes the other rules mentioned—but not existential.

Read more at Middle East Quarterly

More about: Gaza Strip, Hamas, Israeli Security, Palestinian Islamic Jihad