Tag: iran nuclear deal
Biden Needs To Revive The Iran Nuclear Deal

Biden Needs To Revive The Iran Nuclear Deal

Donald Trump was a fierce critic of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal negotiated under Barack Obama. Because of it, he said in 2018, "In just a short period of time, the world's leading state sponsor of terror will be on the cusp of acquiring the world's most dangerous weapons."

He pulled the plug, and what a difference it made. On Thursday, a group of 40 nuclear arms experts issued a statement estimating that today, Tehran would need only a week or two to produce enough weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb. Under the agreement, it would have taken a year.

That's because the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action required the Tehran regime to scrap 13,000 centrifuges, strictly limit enrichment, ship out 97% of its spent nuclear fuel and more. It stipulated that "under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons."

Obama's critics had predicted Iran would not fulfill its obligations — but the International Atomic Energy Agency repeatedly certified that Iran had done what the deal required. Even as he was renouncing the agreement, Trump was unable to identify any violations. His own administration had certified Iran's compliance.

After the U.S. reneged on its commitment, though, Iran proceeded to do likewise. Since Trump's withdrawal, it has boosted its uranium enrichment, denied international inspectors access to surveillance videos and installed advanced centrifuges, all in violation of the accord.

This was not what Trump promised. He assured Americans that "we will be working with our allies to find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat" and that Iran would soon capitulate under the pain of new sanctions. It should surprise no one to find that he was talking nonsense.

Those allies strenuously objected to his withdrawal. In a joint statement, the governments of Germany, France and Britain, all parties to the deal, expressed "regret and concern" and declared, "We emphasize our continuing commitment to the JCPOA." Nor did the sanctions force Iran to come crawling back, begging for mercy.

Opponents of the deal said that because various provisions only lasted for 10 or 15 years, Iran would eventually be able to acquire the bomb. But Trump only speeded up the process. His policy was the equivalent of a cancer patient rejecting a proven treatment because the cancer might someday recur.

Another criticism of the accord was that it didn't keep Iran from supporting terrorist groups or testing new missiles. But that's like our cancer patient spurning cancer treatment because it wouldn't cure his arthritis or his migraines. Solving one problem is not as good as solving multiple problems, but it beats solving none.

Trump didn't just adopt a policy that was bound to fail. He also hindered any correction by his successor. In the first place, Trump's decision served to discourage Iran from ever forging any deal with Washington. Why agree to terms with one president if the next one might very well tear them up?

Trump also devised another way to prevent a revival of the accord. A year after he withdrew, his administration elected to list Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, a part of the Iranian military, as a foreign terrorist organization — which triggers particular sanctions, and which was previously reserved for nongovernmental groups.

That's now the chief obstacle to a new agreement, because Tehran insists that the designation be revoked. Otherwise, Iran will be under more sanctions than it was after Trump withdrew. The Biden administration is so far unwilling to revoke the designation. Apparently, it doesn't want to give Republicans a chance to claim it's soft on terrorism.

But George W. Bush, who was never accused of being soft on terrorism, didn't register the IRGC as a terrorist group, because there was no compelling reason to do so.

As Trita Parsi, executive vice president of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told me: "Even if the IRGC is taken off the FTO list, it will remain a specially designated terror organization. It will still be considered a U.S.-designated terror organization."

Biden shouldn't let that dispute get in the way of reviving an agreement that blocked a longtime enemy from becoming a nuclear power. He may not want to be pilloried for agreeing to something that can be cynically misrepresented by his foes. But it beats being pilloried for letting Iran get the bomb.

Printed with permission from Creators.

Mohsen Fakhrizadeh Mahabadi

Trump Tweets Approval Of Iran Nuclear Scientist’s Assassination

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Amid swirling questions over what, if any, role the United States played in the assassination of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, President Donald Trump on Friday amplified to his 88 million followers a Twitter post describing the killing as a "major psychological and professional blow" to Iran.

Sina Toossi, a senior research analyst at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), characterized the U.S. president's move as an "implicit approval if there ever was one." The president also retweeted a New York Times report on the killing, which took place as Fakhrizadeh was traveling by car in northern Iran.

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Joe Biden

Biden Faces Early Showdown Over Iran Sanctions

President Trump has called the Obama-initiated nuclear agreement for Iran a "horrible one-sided deal" and withdrew from it in 2018. Except he really didn't.

This past summer, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo began a series of appeals to the UN Security Council, saying that the United States was still a member of the deal, based on the council's 2015 favorable vote by former U.S. ambassador to the UN Samantha Power. Therefore, Washington had the right to initiate the "snapback"—a procedure that allows participants of the deal to reverse any easing or lifting of sanctions instituted by the pact.

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On Both Iran And North Korea, Trump Went To Extremes — And Failed

On Both Iran And North Korea, Trump Went To Extremes — And Failed

The legendary Chicago White Sox hitting coach Charley Lau once observed: “There are two theories on hitting the knuckleball. Unfortunately, neither of them works.” Donald Trump could identify. He has two theories on how to eliminate the potential nuclear danger posed by hostile rogue regimes, and neither of them is succeeding.

Trump apparently has never read “Goldilocks and the Three Bears.” He doesn’t believe a policy can be too hot or too cold. He prefers to take things to their logical, or illogical, extreme.

He’s sought to warm relations with North Korea up to the temperature of a Sandals Resort hot tub, even as he has set out to cover the Islamic rulers of Iran with a massive layer of glacial ice. It’s a perfect test of two radically different strategies — radically different from each other and from what his predecessors did.

It’s also a perfect illustration of his willingness to ignore established norms and longstanding alliances. Trump won the presidency shoveling scorn on the prescriptions of experts, and in the realm of foreign policy, he has stuck to that approach.

His trip to Japan was a chance for the president to reaffirm his devotion to Kim Jong Un. A few months after their summit in Singapore last year, he confessed: “He wrote me beautiful letters, and they’re great letters. We fell in love.”

He took Kim’s flattery as proof that his previous policy of threatening North Korea with incineration had worked. But it looks as though he got played like a gullible heiress. Kim traded nothing of value to get the long-prized meeting with the U.S. president, and he offered minimal concessions when they met.

He made a vague commitment to “work toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” turned over the remains of some American soldiers killed in the Korean War, and halted nuclear and missile tests. But Kim has continued building nuclear warheads, as well as missiles that could carry them.

When the North Koreans resumed testing missiles in May, Trump chose to indulge them. He tweeted that the tests “disturbed some of my people, and others, but not me. I have confidence that Chairman Kim will keep his promise to me.” Those “others” include Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who was hosting Trump at the time and did not share his complacency.

Trump’s attitude exemplifies the sort of naive appeasement that the administration accused Barack Obama of carrying out when he signed a nuclear deal with Iran. Trump made it clear from the start that he had no use for the accord, and last year he abandoned it, over the objections of the other signatories (Britain, France, Germany, the European Union, Russia and China).

His objections were that it didn’t permanently prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons, didn’t stop Iran from supporting terrorist groups or making trouble in neighboring countries, and didn’t keep it from building missiles. But it’s a strange policy to say that because some of the restrictions on Iran last only 10 or 15 years, the solution is to remove them now. Just because a medicine won’t prevent a heart attack is no reason not to take it to treat your diabetes.

Trump claimed that by renouncing the deal and tightening economic sanctions, he would force the Iranians to accept a better deal. But the administration has laid down a list of stiff conditions they would have to accept before talks could even begin — which is what you would do if you had no desire to negotiate.

Tehran shows no sign of altering its behavior in response. Why would it? His two chief foreign policy advisers, national security adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, both supported regime change before going to work for Trump. The Iranian government may reasonably conclude that nothing it can do will satisfy the administration.

The president has used Iran as a foil for his tough-guy act, warning, “If Iran wants to fight, that will be the official end of Iran.” But so far, he hasn’t gotten his way.

What happens when the tough guy does his worst and his adversary doesn’t submit? It’s not clear Trump has a plan for that contingency — any more than he knows how to respond if the North Koreans refuse to give up their nukes.

He is discovering that bluster and bombast don’t work, and craven appeasement doesn’t work. Something in between might be just right.

Steve Chapman blogs at http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/opinion/chapman. Follow him on Twitter @SteveChapman13 or at https://www.facebook.com/stevechapman13. To find out more about Steve Chapmanand read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

IMAGE: President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un participate in a signing ceremony during a meeting on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)