Restrictions on Iran’s Nuclear Program, and Missiles, Are about to Expire

The nuclear deal concluded with Iran in 2015 was not intended as a permanent commitment; rather, its various provisions expire at different times over the course of fifteen years, along with specific restrictions on Tehran’s ballistic-missile programs enacted by the UN Security Council and EU. October 18 (“Transition Day”) is the expiration date for several of these restrictions. Henry Rome and Louis Dugit-Gros explain what this deadline means, and encourage the U.S. and Europe to take action:

Although Washington and Tehran no longer adhere to the terms of the 2015 nuclear deal, some of its elements have continued on autopilot, including the scheduled expiration of some measures in less than three months. . . . Of all the measures set to sunset in October, the removal of European restrictions would probably have the most practical benefit for Tehran. Entities whose [sanctions] designations would be lifted include key manufacturers of missiles, drones, and aircraft. This could open up new opportunities for Iranian acquisitions of arms, technology, and spare parts.

Given the destabilizing Iranian policies [of the past few years], there are plenty of reasons for European governments to conclude that lifting sanctions in less than three months is not a viable option. . . . In addition to maintaining their restrictions, European officials should package their Transition Day policy with new efforts to highlight Iran’s drone proliferation and human-rights abuses, underscoring that de-escalation in some theaters does not preclude Western action in others. September will mark anniversaries on both fronts: the initial spike in Iranian drones appearing on Ukraine’s battlefields, and the death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked Iran’s latest mass protest movement.

Accordingly, the United States, the EU, and Britain should plan to levy additional sanctions related to these issues and declassify more details about them. The sanctions and export-control authorities recently announced by Brussels and London are a good start, but they can and should go further.

Read more at Washington Institute for Near East Policy

More about: European Union, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy


Hizballah Is Learning Israel’s Weak Spots

On Tuesday, a Hizballah drone attack injured three people in northern Israel. The next day, another attack, targeting an IDF base, injured eighteen people, six of them seriously, in Arab al-Amshe, also in the north. This second attack involved the simultaneous use of drones carrying explosives and guided antitank missiles. In both cases, the defensive systems that performed so successfully last weekend failed to stop the drones and missiles. Ron Ben-Yishai has a straightforward explanation as to why: the Lebanon-backed terrorist group is getting better at evading Israel defenses. He explains the three basis systems used to pilot these unmanned aircraft, and their practical effects:

These systems allow drones to act similarly to fighter jets, using “dead zones”—areas not visible to radar or other optical detection—to approach targets. They fly low initially, then ascend just before crashing and detonating on the target. The terrain of southern Lebanon is particularly conducive to such attacks.

But this requires skills that the terror group has honed over months of fighting against Israel. The latest attacks involved a large drone capable of carrying over 50 kg (110 lbs.) of explosives. The terrorists have likely analyzed Israel’s alert and interception systems, recognizing that shooting down their drones requires early detection to allow sufficient time for launching interceptors.

The IDF tries to detect any incoming drones on its radar, as it had done prior to the war. Despite Hizballah’s learning curve, the IDF’s technological edge offers an advantage. However, the military must recognize that any measure it takes is quickly observed and analyzed, and even the most effective defenses can be incomplete. The terrain near the Lebanon-Israel border continues to pose a challenge, necessitating technological solutions and significant financial investment.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Hizballah, Iron Dome, Israeli Security