Since the 2015 nuclear deal, the Islamic Republic has received millions of dollars from the U.S., benefited greatly from sanctions relief, upgraded its centrifuges, expanded its regional influence, arrested and killed protestors, threatened Israel, and avidly pursued its ballistic-missile program. Meanwhile, the military sites where it is most likely working to build atomic weapons are protected from inspections, and the deal’s restrictions will begin to be phased out in six years. By declining to recertify the agreement, President Trump has opened the door for either scuttling it or modifying its terms. Mark Dubowitz, in conversation with Jonathan Silver, advocates the latter course of action, and discusses how Washington might best pursue it. (Audio, 62 minutes. Options for download and streaming are available at the link below.)
How to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Program
War with Iran Isn’t on the Horizon. So Why All the Arguments against It?
As the U.S. has responded to Iranian provocations in the Persian Gulf, various observers in the press have argued that National Security Advisor John Bolton somehow seeks to drag President Trump into a war with Iran against his will. Matthew Continetti points out the absurdities of this argument, and its origins:
Never mind that President Trump, Vice-President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan, and Bolton have not said a single word about a preemptive strike, much less a full-scale war, against Iran. Never mind that the president’s reluctance for overseas intervention is well known. The “anti-war” cries are not about context, and they are certainly not about deterring Iran. Their goal is saving President Obama’s nuclear deal by manipulating Trump into firing Bolton and extending a lifeline to the regime.
It’s a storyline that originated in Iran. Toward the end of April, Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif showed up in New York and gave an interview to Reuters where he said, “I don’t think [Trump] wants war,” but “that doesn’t exclude him basically being lured into one” by Bolton. . . . And now this regime talking point is everywhere. “It’s John Bolton’s world. Trump is just living in it,” write two former Obama officials in the Los Angeles Times. “John Bolton is Donald Trump’s war whisperer,” writes Peter Bergen on CNN.com. . . .
Recall Obama’s deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes’s admission to the New York Times Magazine in 2016 [that] “We created an echo chamber” to attack the Iran deal’s opponents through leaks and tips to the D.C. press. . . . Members of the echo chamber aren’t for attacking Iran, but they are all for slandering its American opponents. The latest target is Bolton. . . .
The Iranians are in a box. U.S. sanctions are crushing the economy, but if they leave the agreement with Europe they will be back to square one. To escape the box you try to punch your way out. That’s why Iran has assumed a threatening posture: provoking an American attack could bolster waning domestic support for the regime and divide the Western alliance.