The cold war between Israel and Iran is heating up. At the same time, the countdown to either "fix or nix" the Iranian nuclear deal is ticking down, with an urgent deadline looming on May 12. These two aspects of the Iranian problem are linked.
With US President Trump's decision to lay down a red line on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and slap more onerous non-nuclear sanctions on Iran, its clerical establishment has vowed a "severe response." But while Teheran's rhetoric has been threatening, its riposte is likely to be restrained due to three inconvenient realities...
The evidence is mounting that Iran is not only violating the spirit of the no-nukes deal, but that it is also violating its letter. The prologue to the deal explicitly states: "Iran reaffirms that under no circumstances will Iran ever seek, develop or acquire any nuclear weapons." This reaffirmation has no sunset provision: it is supposed to be forever.
The only penalty that can be implemented for violations of the JCPOA is the full re-imposition of sanctions - which automatically ends all restrictions on Iran under the agreement. This has been compared to a legal system with only one punishment - the death penalty - for every crime. The obvious result is that most crimes go unpunished.
Two years ago, I urged US Senators to vote "no" on the Iran nuclear deal. My goal was not to have them scrap the accord, which had numerous positive benefits, but to give President Barack Obama leverage to repair its serious flaws. "No," I argued, "doesn't necessarily mean ‘no, never.' It can also mean ‘not now, not this way.' It may be the best way to get to ‘yes.'"