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.

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Read more at Foreign Policy

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

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy