At the behest of its president, the United States has canceled its portion of the Iranian nuclear deal. In lieu of inspections, America will impose sanctions.
Inspection of Iran’s nuclear facilities and eliminating the stockpiles of enriched uranium (and the majority of their centrifuges) are all being replaced with unilateral sanctions.
The difficulty in this is that various intelligence communities, the International Atomic Energy Agency, and the US’ own surveillance have indicated that Iran was compliant, while history shows that sanctions emboldened the country to pursue a nuclear program.
The US is canceling a program that works, in favor of a program that most certainly does not.
Moreover, given that the US has broken many of its major international agreements including this one, imposing sanctions that are beyond unilateral sanctions is going to be difficult to broker with other countries.
The art of any deal is keeping your end of the deal. If this isn’t done, no one will make deals going forward.
The arguments given for the US reneging on this deal are perplexing. The first is that Iran is a supporter of global terrorism. If this were true, cutting off the supply of Iran’s nuclear program would be a paramount concern – the deal would become more important in that case. Canceling a deal that was working and replacing it with a program we know does not work (for reasons that make me passionately desire a program that works) is a bad policy.
The second argument given is that the deal involved a cash payment to Iran. This is false.
There was a cash payment made to Iran after the deal was made, but this had more to do with leverage for the release of American prisoners. Further, this wasn’t America’s money that was paid to Iran; it was Iran’s own money after their US accounts had been frozen by the American government.
To the credit of the neoconservatives, who continually claim Iran does not have nuclear ambitions, Israel’s concern is justified. Enriching uranium has a cascading effect. If it’s enriched to 3-4% purity, it can generate enough heat for nuclear power. If it’s enriched to 80-90% it’s sufficient for a nuclear weapon. Iran has been found to enrich it up to 20%, which could be for research but, given their stockpile, this almost certainly demonstrates the capacity to quickly develop it for weapons. This being said, both America and Israel have been claiming Iran, while chanting “Death to Israel” and “Death to America”, are in the pursuit of apocalyptic weaponry. This is also a far cry from the truth.
Benjamin Netanyahu, along with America’s neoconservatives, has been claiming for decades that Iran poses a serious nuclear threat, and they appear no more threatening today than they did decades ago.
On Sunday, Hezbollah and its allies, an Iranian-backed party, claimed victory in Lebanon’s first election in nearly a decade. The rebel fighters in Syria have continued to lose ground, while ISIS has been decimated – leaving the country to an Iranian-backed regime. Yemen continues to be embattled a costly civil war, with the Iranian-supporting Houthis still in control of the capital they conquered in 2015. Iraq’s Shia government has been increasingly friendly with Iran to deal with the threat posed by ISIS. Iran’s proxies have overtaken a significant portion of the Middle East.
Much of the Middle East turmoil can be described as a cold war between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shia Iran, a cold war that Iran has been winning. The difficulty with sanctions is that they take away from the people and not the government, which makes them embittered toward the giver of sanctions, which will translate to more support for a war they’re winning. This is the precise wrong course of action America ought to take.
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