It seems that the pressure is on to wrap up a new nuclear agreement with Iran. Some reports suggest that agreement on all the issues is close, but there are still major stumbling-blocks to be overcome.
The trouble is, Iran is unashamedly, unapologetically and irrevocably (under its present religious rulership) committed to the destruction of Israel. Israel is known to have nuclear weapons; therefore, the Iranian government is almost certainly committed to developing its own nukes in order to counter that threat. There’s been abundant evidence to that effect in recent years, including Israel’s heist of a truckload of evidence from an Iranian government storage facility. Any commitment by Iran to eschew nuclear weapons is untrustworthy, both in the light of their past lies and in view of the Islamic doctrines of taqiyya and tawriya. Both argue, in so many words, that it’s permissible under Islamic belief to lie and dissemble about important matters when dealing with “infidels” – and Iran considers the Western world to be infidel in its entirety. That means any agreement reached with the West can (and, in the past, has been) disregarded as meaningless when Iran’s priorities are different.
Unfortunately, many in the West insist on dealing with Iran as if it were/is a trustworthy partner, whose commitments were/are sure to be honored. That appears to include the Biden administration – a situation which gives a great deal of cause for concern. In a long Twitter thread (which may more conveniently be read in two Threadreader chains, here and here) former State Department official Gabriel Noronha provides details. The Hill summarizes his concerns in this report.
Noronha says his former State Department, National Security Council, and European Union colleagues were so alarmed about compromises the Biden administration appears to be making with Iran that they allowed him to publish details to alert Congress to how the pending agreement could undermine America’s national security interests.
The agreement details are known to the governments of Russia, China and Iran, but evidently not to Congress, and certainly not to the American people. It’s possible that an agreement could be signed by early next week.
The Biden team’s desire to revive what they worked on during the Obama administration and to have the United States rejoin the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is no surprise. What is shocking is the extent of sanctions relief that Malley, the lead negotiator, appears ready to offer. Earlier this year, Malley’s deputy, Richard Nephew, protested the lack of a harder approach by resigning.
Noronha tells me his former colleagues hold out hope that Congress “will act to stop the capitulation” by the Biden administration. Sanctions relief reportedly is being offered for some of Iran’s worst human rights abusers and terrorists, as well as the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), which the State Department designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization in 2019. Among those who reportedly could be granted a reprieve from sanctions are IRGC Gen. Hossein Dehghan, who led forces that killed 241 U.S. soldiers in 1983 in Beirut, and Ayatollah Khamenei’s personal corporations, worth tens of billions of dollars.
This could be just the tip of the iceberg. The U.S. helped to restore Iran’s voting rights at the United Nations by releasing Iranian funds frozen in South Korean banks. And an exchange of U.S. and Iranian prisoners, with a release of funds, is reported to be part of the deal. As Noronha tweeted: “Every individual and entity that was de-sanctioned under the JCPOA’s Annex II Attachment 3 will have all sanctions stripped again, even though close to 100 of them were later sanctioned for terrorism, human rights violations, and participation in Iran’s WMD activities.”
The Biden team evidently intends to bypass the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA) of 2015, which requires that any changes to the nuclear deal be given a 30-day hearing in Congress. The last thing that President Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken want is to shine a spotlight on their concessions to Iran. The claim that the world will be safer with this deal would be laughable if it were not so dangerous.
There’s more at the link.
Of particular concern is that, according to Noronha, “Iran is set to get a massive windfall in access to cash: the latest estimate is $90 billion in foreign exchange reserves, and then $50-55 billion in extra revenue each year from higher oil/petrochemical exports, with no restrictions on where it’ll be spent.” In the light of Iran’s international sponsorship of terrorism in many nations (particularly the ongoing war being waged by Shi’ite separatists in Yemen), such a colossal windfall can only be regarded as further fuel for the fires of war it’s already stoked high.
This begs the question: how will Israel respond? I know how I’d be thinking, if I were in Israel’s shoes.
“Iran has publicly and repeatedly threatened to destroy Israel for many years. It continues to attack us in and from Syria. Now it’s likely to get nuclear weapons, as well as a much-needed infusion of money for its destabilizing activities. Wouldn’t it be better to use our nuclear weapons to destroy Iran’s nuclear capabilities now, before it takes the last step to develop its own nukes? The alternative is to sit here and wait for Iran to destroy us – and that’s out of the question.”
Wouldn’t you be thinking like that, too, if you were an Israeli leader? In the light of the Holocaust, I sure would . . .
I hope the Biden administration’s negotiators keep that very firmly in mind. If they make too many concessions, Israel may decide it has no choice but to act preemptively in its own defense. A nuclear war in the Middle East, on top of the Ukraine war, tensions over Taiwan, and the fragile state of the world’s economy, might be the last straw that breaks the camel’s (and the world’s) back.