By Max L. Kleinman
November 5, 2020, 11:42 am
As we focus our attention on the upcoming election of November 3rd, another important deadline was reached, but it was scarcely reported in the press. On October 18, as part of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action curtailing Iran’s nuclear ambitions, UN Security Resolution 2231 expired. This means that Russia and China can sell advanced aircraft, tanks, and other arms to Iran, which in turn can supply arms to its surrogates, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and the Houthis in Yemen. This comes on the heels of Iran’s development of intercontinental missiles, against U.N. resolutions; fomenting war in Yemen; attacking and seizing oil tankers, and destroying Saudi oil installations, wreaking havoc to global markets.
The United States pushed to extend the arms embargo and apply additional sanctions and asked our allies to join this effort. Instead, Great Britain, France and Germany refused, saying the United States had no right to invoke these measures as it withdrew from the JCPOA in 2018. That’s like ticketing a fire truck for speeding as it rushes to extinguish a fire.
Ignoring Iran’s ambition of establishing a caliphate in the entire Middle East, imposing its form of radical Islam, its commitment to destroy the “Zionist entity” in violation of the UN’s charter, propping up the murderous Assad regime, hijacking Lebanon and arming Hamas, the JCPOA was approved by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and Germany in 2015. While the JCPOA set limits on how much uranium Iran could enrich, it enacted sunset provisions by which after 15 years or in 2030, Iran will, according to United Against a Nuclear Iran, a bipartisan think tank consisting of national security luminaries, “be permitted to have an industrial-scale nuclear program with no limitations on number and type of centrifuges or its stockpiles of fissile material.” This was facilitated by the transfer of tens of billions to its coffers as part of the deal.
In other words, the JCPOA “rents” Iranian nuclear arms control for 15 (now 10) years, after which it legally can develop nuclear weapons. This without any formal input from Israel or the Gulf countries most directly threatened by Iran, reminiscent of Czechoslovakia’s exclusion from the Munich agreement of 1938, which doomed that country to Nazi control.
In response, as stated above, the Trump administration withdrew from the JCPOA and enacted extensive economic sanctions invoking counterterrorism claims, which has had the effect of reducing Iranian oil revenues by 90 percent.
Vice President Biden, one of the architects of the JCPOA, recognizes the gravity of Iran’s nuclear ambitions and proposed steps he would undertake if elected president. In an op -ed for CNN, he wrotwe that he would “make an unshakable commitment to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.” So containment would not be an option.
He would then “offer Tehran a credible path back to diplomacy. If Iran returns to strict compliance with the nuclear deal, the U.S. would rejoin the agreement… With our allies, we will work to strengthen the nuclear deal’s provisions … help our partners end regional conflict,” and work with Israel to ensure it can defend itself against Iran and its proxies.
All of these are laudable goals. But what incentive does Iran have to bend when it has a pathway toward a nuclear weapon within 10 years, with the prospect of acquiring more sophisticated weapons?. Ironically, the lifting of the Trump unilateral U.S. sanctions, which has crippled Iran’s economy, can be used by Biden as a carrot to restart negotiations.
Ultimately, the ideal deal would eliminate any sunset provisions, as Iran exports oil and doesn’t require nuclear energy. In exchange for commitments toward not overtly overthrowing the Iranian theocracy, Iran should renounce terrorism and desist from destabilizing its neighbors and accepting Israel’s right to exist.
Hope springs eternal!
Meanwhile, with peace agreements with UAE, Bahrain, and Sudan, and the use of Saudi air space, Israel is better positioned to defend itself strategically.
I have heard then Senator and Vice-President Biden state that he would never allow any daylight between the US and Israel. I hope that if he is elected president, he will close any cracks in the relationship by securing a better deal with the Iranians for the betterment of Israel’s security, the region’s security, and world peace.