It’s Time to Take the Iran Deal Off Life Support

Dec. 30 2022

On recently circulated video from a November 4 campaign event in California, President Biden can be heard telling a questioner that the 2015 nuclear deal with Tehran—which his administration came into office promising to renew—is now “dead, but we’re not going to announce it.” This comment, although clearly not intended as a policy statement, is of a piece with a variety of mixed and contradictory signals the White House has sent about the negotiations. “What,” asks Ben Cohen, “can explain this reticence” simply to admit that there will be no new agreement?

In part, it’s the old negotiating tactic of not showing your hand if you don’t absolutely need to; let the Iranians be the ones to take the blame for the failure of talks seems to be the idea here. Yet the Europeans are also a factor, in that the EU remains wedded to the goal of a revived [nuclear deal], despite announcing a new round of sanctions on the Iranian regime after the protests erupted. So long as the EU believes there is even the faintest hope of a breakthrough with the mullahs, the U.S. is unlikely to place an official stamp upon its commander-in-chief’s off-the-cuff comments.

This kind of ducking and weaving by the West sends the signal to Tehran that it still has a role to play, by arriving at an outcome that Western nations badly want. To deliver on a deal, the regime has to remain in power. Yet if our goal now—as Biden stated at the rally in California—is to “free Iran” and to offer every assistance we can to the ordinary Iranians driven by this goal, then we need to do the exact opposite. The robust sanctions that have been imposed on numerous Iranian individuals, military organizations, and government agencies need to be amplified by a freeze on diplomatic contacts with the Iranians.

Foremost, this would mean formally ending the negotiations in Vienna to resurrect the deal. Biden’s judgment that the deal is dead would thus become official policy. And as well as ending the nuclear talks, Western nations should suspend diplomatic contacts by pulling their ambassadors out of Tehran while leaving lower-level staff in place to monitor the repression of the protests.

Read more at JNS

More about: European Union, Iran nuclear program, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy


Israel Is Courting Saudi Arabia by Confronting Iran

Most likely, it was the Israeli Air Force that attacked eastern Syria Monday night, apparently destroying a convoy carrying Iranian weapons. Yoav Limor comments:

Israel reportedly carried out 32 attacks in Syria in 2022, and since early 2023 it has already struck 25 times in the country—at the very least. . . . The Iranian-Israeli clash stands out in the wake of the dramatic events in the region, chiefly among them is the effort to strike a normalization deal between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and later on with various other Muslim-Sunni states. Iran is trying to torpedo this process and has even publicly warned Saudi Arabia not to “gamble on a losing horse” because Israel’s demise is near. Riyadh is unlikely to heed that demand, for its own reasons.

Despite the thaw in relations between the kingdom and the Islamic Republic—including the exchange of ambassadors—the Saudis remain very suspicious of the Iranians. A strategic manifestation of that is that Riyadh is trying to forge a defense pact with the U.S.; a tactical manifestation took place this week when Saudi soccer players refused to play a match in Iran because of a bust of the former Revolutionary Guard commander Qassem Suleimani, [a master terrorist whose militias have wreaked havoc throughout the Middle East, including within Saudi borders].

Of course, Israel is trying to bring Saudi Arabia into its orbit and to create a strong common front against Iran. The attack in Syria is ostensibly unrelated to the normalization process and is meant to prevent the terrorists on Israel’s northern border from laying their hands on sophisticated arms, but it nevertheless serves as a clear reminder for Riyadh that it must not scale back its fight against the constant danger posed by Iran.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Iran, Israeli Security, Saudi Arabia, Syria