New Iran nuclear deal imminent?
Aug 30, 2022 | AIJAC staff
There are reports that agreement on a return to a new version of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal between Iran and the “P5+1 ” powers (the US, UK, France, Germany, Russia and China) may now be imminent.
This Update looks at the implications of any such renewal of that deal, especially from an Israeli perspective.
We lead with a short speech on the possibility of a revived JCPOA given by Israeli PM Yair Lapid at a press briefing last Wednesday. Lapid stresses that Israel is not against any agreement, but what is on the table is a bad deal that will strengthen Iran’s ability to spread terrorism and subversion as well as strengthen its nuclear program. He pledges that Israel will not allow Iran to become a nuclear state, regardless of what is agreed to by the US and other powers in this deal. For his words in full, CLICK HERE.
Next up is a US-based critique of the proposed new deal from Washington foreign policy pundit Danielle Pletka. She argues that the US and Europe will get little out of this deal, because the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program begin to expire after a mere year and a half and expire completely by 2030. Pletka also argues the proposed deal will significantly benefit US rivals Russia and China, giving them both economic benefits and providing an avenue for Russia to easily evade Ukraine-related sanctions. For all the details of her argument, CLICK HERE. More on how the deal might help Russia is here.
Finally, veteran Israeli reporter Khaled Abu Toameh discusses how Iran’s leaders are likely to act in the wake of a renewed nuclear deal. He says Iranian leaders are determined to expand their efforts to export their Islamic revolution and seek the elimination of Israel, and are openly boasting about these intentions. Abu Toameh quotes Iranian leaders and proxies saying as much, and also focuses on a push by Iran to seek to increasingly use the West Bank as a platform for its proxies to attack Israel. For his analysis, complete with all the details, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in…
- Former Israeli diplomat Jeremy Issacharoff argues that, given the developments of the last few years, any hope that a return to the JCPOA can stop Iran’s nuclear program is long gone.
- Former Israeli National Security Advisor Brig. (res.) Jacob Nagel suggests Israel will need a new strategy if the deal is agreed on, and has some ideas about what that might look like. Meanwhile, Israeli columnist Yoav Limor suggests intensive Israeli diplomatic and media efforts to stop or modify the deal still have a chance to pay off over the coming few days.
- Michael Rubin analyses the long-term consequences of the mooted deal, and also had a piece on how the US Congress can temper the eagerness of the US Biden Administration to reach a deal with Iran at almost any cost.
- New York Times columnist Bret Stephens calls out the failure of the world to act against murderous attacks on Salman Rushdie and others emanating from Iran as the nuclear deal is being negotiated. Plus, also in the New York Times, Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour explains what the US and the world are getting wrong about the Iranian regime.
- Washington Post columnist David Ignatius on the emerging alliance between Russia and Iran.
- One of the sticking points in the deal is Iran’s stated expectation that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations into undisclosed Iranian nuclear sites must be wound up before the four-stage process the deal outlines is completed – though reports say no promises along those lines have been made by the US or EU. Proliferation specialists Andrea Stricker and Anthony Ruggiero argue that IAEA head Rafael Grossi must stand strong against any pressure to force him to end those investigations prematurely to facilitate the agreement.
- US foreign policy analyst Ilan Berman explores the vulnerabilities of the Iranian regime that might lead to its ultimate overthrow or evolution into something less threatening.
- There has been considerable international criticism of Israel’s decision to raid and shut down the offices of several NGOs that it had previously banned as affiliated with the PFLP terrorist group. Gerald Steinberg and Melanie Phillips review the ample publicly available information about PFLP links which appear to fully justify the Israeli moves against these NGOs.
- A Jerusalem Post editorial on the problems with UN agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA, and the reforms it should undergo before it is given more funding.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
“On the table right now is a bad deal’
Israeli PM Yair Lapid
Office of the Prime Minister, August 24, 2022
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid at his media briefing about a possible nuclear deal with Iran on August 24 (Photo: Kobi Gideon, Israeli Government Press office)
Prime Minister Yair Lapid held a briefing for foreign correspondents. Following are his remarks at the start of the briefing:
A week ago, the EU made Iran what they called their “final offer” for a return to the nuclear deal. They declared it was “take it or leave it.”
The Iranians, as always, did not say no. They said ‘Yes, but…;’And then they sent a draft of their own, with more changes and demands.
Since then, there have been more discussions about this.The Iranians are making demands again. The negotiators are ready to make concessions, again.
This is not the first time this has happened. The countries of the West draw a red line, the Iranians ignore it, and the red line moves.
If the Iranians didn’t ‘take it’, why didn’t the world ‘leave it’?
On the table right now is a bad deal. It would give Iran a hundred billion dollars a year.
This money will not build schools or hospitals.This is a hundred billion dollars a year that will be used to undermine stability in the Middle East and spread terror around the globe.
This money will fund the Revolutionary Guards. It will fund the Basij who oppress the Iranian people. It will fund more attacks on American bases in the Middle East.
It will be used to strengthen Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. This money will go to the people who are trying to kill authors and thinkers in New York.
And of course, it will be used to strengthen Iran’s nuclear program.
Israel is not against any agreement. We are against this agreement, because it is a bad one.
Because it cannot be accepted as it is written right now. In our eyes, it does not meet the standards set by President Biden himself: preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
This agreement endangers the independence of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the IAEA. It creates huge political pressure on them to close open cases without completing a professional investigation.
This week, Rafael Grossi, the Director-General of the IAEA, was asked if he received good enough answers from the Iranians on these open files.
This is what he said: ‘Absolutely not. So far, Iran has not given us the technically credible explanations that we need to explain the origin of many traces of uranium… Let us have an explanation: if there was nuclear material there, where is it now?’
International Atomic Energy Agency head Rafael Grossi: Iran is “absolutely not” providing technically credible answers in the agency’s investigations (Photo: lev radin / Shutterstock.com)
How is it possible to sign a deal with Iran when this is what the body responsible for supervising a deal says? How is it possible to sign a deal with the Iranians that gives them a hundred billion dollar a year prize for breaking all of their commitments?
The sweeping removal of sanctions on sectors like banking – against financial institutions designated today as supporting terrorism – means the Iranians will have no problem whatsoever laundering money.
Iran will assist other nations facing sanctions to evade them. They will be able to create a direct route for financing terror.
We have an open dialogue with the American administration on all matters of disagreement. I appreciate their willingness to listen and work together: the United States is and will remain our closest ally, and President Biden is one of the best friends Israel has ever known.
In the last few days, I have spoken with the President of France and the Chancellor of Germany. We have a close, and almost daily, dialogue with the UK.
I told them these negotiations have reached the point where they must stop and say ‘enough.’ All that being said, we have made it clear to everyone: if a deal is signed, it does not obligate Israel. We will act to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear state.
We are not prepared to live with a nuclear threat above our heads from an extremist, violent Islamist regime.
This will not happen. Because we will not let it happen.
On the Precipice of a Very Bad Iran Deal
The Dispatch, Aug. 24, 2022
Like deja vu all over again, it seems the United States is on the verge of reentering the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known popularly as the Iran nuclear deal. What with Mar-a-Lago, Ukraine, midterms, and the normal distractions of summer, some may have missed the latest. For you, a recap.
When last we left our dogged dealmakers in early spring—the last “on the verge of a deal moment—the Biden administration had abandoned its vision of the “longer and stronger” agreement it promised and was diligently swatting away critics (most notably, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Menendez) in a desperate attempt to do no more than restore the Obama status quo ante. Indeed, it appeared peace was at hand when, suddenly, the Iranian government demanded that its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) be removed from the U.S. list of terrorist organizations. As such a delisting would be entirely counterfactual and impossible to defend politically in an environment where the IRGC was credibly being accused of plotting assassinations on U.S. soil, discussions ground to a halt. Iran has now apparently dropped that demand. But …
As the Wisconsin Project’s IranWatch details exhaustively, the Islamic Republic has continued energetic work on its supposedly non-existent nuclear weapons program, making such progress that a senior adviser to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei claims Tehran is already able to fashion a weapon. (That raises the question of why talks are continuing, but since when do such inconvenient truths get in the way of a good diplomatic process?) Most troublingly in the IranWatch report is the clear implication that because of ongoing work, secret Iranian nuclear enrichment sites (and likely nuclear weapons experimentation and testing sites) are probably much smaller than older secret sites, thus rendering concealment of the program all the more easy. Which is why …
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) investigations into Iranian concealment of violations of its obligations under the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty have become critical to supposedly “final” negotiations between Europe, Russia, China, and the United States. These investigations, in turn, have become the stumbling block to the happily-ever-after so earnestly sought after by the Biden administration’s myrmidons. To explain:
As a result of its evaluations, the Agency identified in 2019 a number of questions related to possible undeclared nuclear material and nuclear-related activities in Iran that had not been declared to the Agency and requested responses to these questions from Iran, pursuant to Article 69 of the Safeguards Agreement and Article 4.d. of the Additional Protocol. The Agency also provided Iran with detailed information upon which the Agency had made its requests for clarification.
The provenance of the request was a revelation by then Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that a “secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and materiel from Iran’s secret nuclear weapons program” was located in the Turquzabad district of Iran’s capital, Tehran. IAEA investigators visited the site and found traces of uranium unexplained by any programs that Iran had declared to the international nuclear watchdog. Questioned about the source of the uranium, Iranian officials turned to their stock of obfuscatory responses: It flew there. The Israelis put it there. It isn’t there, the IAEA is just fronting for the Israelis. It’s old. The IAEA was not satisfied.
In March of this year, Iran reached an agreement with the IAEA on a framework for getting to the bottom of the Turquzabad mystery, but that too was a dead end. After committing to answer IAEA questions, Iranian officials missed the agreed-upon deadline for responding and then recycled the same unpersuasive explanations that the IAEA had previously rejected. Getting past all this is now, nominally, the sole barrier to the re-entry into force of the JCPOA. But how did we get here?
Per official Iranian news sources, in order to move the “process” of negotiations further with Iran at the Vienna talks, the Biden administration agreed to specific measures to propitiate the Tehran regime. Among them: lifting sanctions on most (if not all) Iranian banks; release of at least $7 billion in Iranian funds now frozen in South Korean banks; across-the-board sanctions relief for organizations including the supreme leader’s massive slush fund, Setad, as well as the Khordad Foundation, which funds assassination plots like the one on Salman Rushdie; an end to all Trump executive orders on Iran; rapid oil sales for a mass cash infusion (about $4 billion); and an exemption to sanctions on foreign companies should the U.S. once again pull out of the JCPOA.
The curious may wonder what it is that the United States, the Europeans, Russia, and China will get out of this deal. For the United States and those European countries concerned about Iran’s malign intentions, a “return” to “compliance” with the JCPOA will be nearly moot, as the agreement’s vaunted restrictions on Iran’s nuclear activities will begin to expire in a mere year and a half, and almost all will lapse by the end of this decade. At that point Iran will be fully within its rights under the agreement to do all the things that the Biden administration tells us today it is too risky to permit Iran to do.
There will supposedly be an exchange of hostages. There will not be any end to Iranian efforts to “avenge” the killing of Quds Force leader Qassem Suleimani, which means no end of efforts to murder former President Donald Trump, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and other former senior officials. Taxpayers may have some view on that, given the millions per month in security costs, but we digress. For the Russians and the Chinese, there is another story entirely.
Along with Iran, Russia and China will also be key winners of the proposed new deal (Image: Wikimedia commons).
These two adversaries of the United States stand to gain a great deal. In the first instance, it has often been noted that despite Russia’s aggression in Ukraine, the Russian player in the Vienna talks has been not simply present, but the main arbiter between Tehran and Washington. Indeed, Mikhail Ulyanov bragged openly about “delivering” U.S. concessions to Iran. Russia has played the Iran game skillfully: In the spring it attempted to use the “imminent” Iran deal to leverage a carveout for Ukraine-related sanctions on the Kremlin, and then negotiated a deal to buy military drones from Iran—something almost no other country will sell them. Long term, Iran promises to be a medium for not simply arms exports and sanctions evasion for the Russians, but a lifeline to international banking and lending once Tehran is out of the global financial doghouse.
There is also much to be gained for Beijing. Chinese companies have been one of Iran’s most important (illegal) oil customers since the outset of the Biden administration. Indeed, President Biden’s unwillingness to impose sanctions on China for those increasingly brazen violations has been a signal of its desire to once again embrace and finance the Islamic Republic’s regime. As China’s isolation grows, its dependence on energy sources immune from global sanctions becomes more important; expect the CCP to continue to build its friendship with the Islamic Republic, though perhaps not to the levels promised in their bilateral Comprehensive Strategic Partnership.
No surprise then that Iranian officials are regularly hinting that the deal is imminent, though the United States begs to differ. Reportedly, the question of how to resolve the IAEA inspections dilemma has a nominal solution—the current proposal would condition implementation of the deal on the IAEA closing its investigation. Apparently the Europeans argued to Iran that they can take comfort from this arrangement, because it means huge international pressure will be brought to bear on the IAEA to accept Iran’s explanations. Certainly we will all (forgive the sarcasm) be able to breathe easier if that happens.
Resolving the other problem—angry denunciations of the new deal by Israel and congressional leaders—appears not to trouble Team Biden. The White House will likely ignore the Israelis with conciliatory pats, new arms exports, and empty promises. As for Congress, the administration has the option of declaring that it doesn’t view any new agreement with Iran as “new,” and therefore not subject to the strictures of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA, which requires new nuclear agreements with Iran to be submitted to Congress before any executive branch action). In this, Congress’ redress is limited; a new bill could be passed to limit White House concessions to the Islamic Republic, but in a Democratic Congress with signature required from the White House, the odds are low.
And even if the administration chooses to subject itself to the painful debate that will take place if it submits the agreement for review under INARA, it can be confident that the agreement will survive, because ultimately INARA requires two-thirds supermajorities in both houses of Congress to block an agreement, a prospect with precisely zero likelihood given the current partisan environment.
Finally, we find ourselves where we so often are. Iran’s nuclear program is largely on track; its missile and terrorism programs are untouched. The only hope for those who fear a nuclear-empowered Iran is that the Iranians may say no, calculating that if they continue to run down the clock, the Biden administration will become even more desperate and make even more concessions. Indeed, Biden’s “conceding from the front” strategy could make you nostalgic for the good old days of leadership from behind.
Danielle Pletka is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.
Iran Prepares to Take Out Israel – Right after Iran Deal is Signed
by Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, August 24, 2022
- The mullahs appear convinced that once the Biden administration capitulates completely to their demands for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, they will be able to step up their already significant efforts to eliminate Israel and export their Islamic Revolution to Arab and Islamic countries. Iran already occupies four Arab countries: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
- Iran’s mullahs appear to be so confident that the Biden administration has turned its back on its Arab allies in the Middle East that they are issuing direct threats not only against Israel, but also against any Arab country that dares to cooperate with the Israelis.
- Meanwhile, the mullahs are busy trying to open a new battlefront against Israel, this time in the West Bank.
- The mullahs appear to be so emboldened by the Biden administration’s weakness that they are now openly talking about using the West Bank as a launching pad to attack Israel and kill Jews.
- Under pressure from the Iranian regime, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives held a meeting in the Gaza Strip earlier this week to discuss ways of stepping up the “resistance” against Israel.
- In an attempt to appease their masters in Tehran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued a joint statement after the meeting in which they pledged to step up the “armed struggle” against Israel “until the liberation [of all of Palestine],” a euphemism for the destruction of Israel.
Iran’s mullahs appear convinced that once the Biden Administration capitulates completely to their demands for reviving the 2015 nuclear deal, they will be able to step up their already significant efforts to eliminate Israel and export their Islamic revolution to Arab and Islamic countries. Iran already occupies four Arab countries: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq. (Image source: saeediex, Shutterstock)
As the Biden administration seems to be moving closer to reaching a new nuclear deal with Iran, the mullahs in Tehran are encouraging their Lebanese and Palestinian terrorist proxies to prepare for waging war on Israel.
The mullahs appear convinced that once the Biden administration capitulates completely to their demands for reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, they will be able to step up their already significant efforts to eliminate Israel and export their Islamic Revolution to Arab and Islamic countries. Iran already occupies four Arab countries: Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq.
The mullahs are not oblivious to the growing voices in the Arab world that complain about the weakness of the US and how the Biden administration’s policy of appeasement towards Iran is undermining the Americans’ credibility and jeopardizing the security and stability of Arab and Islamic countries.
Iran’s mullahs appear to be so confident that the Biden administration has turned its back on its Arab allies in the Middle East that they are issuing direct threats not only against Israel, but also against any Arab country that dares to cooperate with the Israelis.
The latest threat came from the commander of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) Navy, Commodore Alireza Tangsiri, who warned that cooperation with Israel “threatens security and stability in the Gulf region.”
Tangsiri’s warning was directed to America’s Arab allies, especially the Gulf states, some of which have been conducting security cooperation with Israel.
The timing of his threat was anything but coincidental. It came amid reports that the Biden administration is moving forward towards striking a new deal with Tehran’s mullahs.
The mullahs, in short, are sending a message to America’s allies in the Arab world that if they believe they can trust the Biden administration to protect them against Iran’s expansionist plans or safeguard their security and stability, they are sorely mistaken.
Addressing America’s Arab allies, Tangsiri warned them not to allow US or any other foreign countries to use their countries as bases for military and security operations.
Any country that ignores the warning, Tangsiri said, “will pay the price for its unfriendly and provocative behavior.” The IRGC, he cautioned, is ready “to carry out any mission to preserve the interests of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its heroic people.”
Meanwhile, the mullahs are busy trying to open a new battlefront against Israel, this time in the West Bank.
Iran already has its own proxies in the Gaza Strip: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In Lebanon, the mullahs have the Hezbollah terrorist militia, which has created a state-within-a-state there and is also continuing to issue threats to attack Israel.
The three terrorist groups — Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah — for the past three decades have been launching terror attacks against Israel from Lebanon and the Gaza Strip.
The mullahs appear to be so emboldened by the Biden administration’s weakness that they are now openly talking about using the West Bank as a launching pad to attack Israel and kill Jews.
The commander of the IRGC, Major General Hossein Salami, revealed that Iran was working with Hamas and Islamic Jihad to extend their terrorist attacks from the Gaza Strip to the West Bank. The goal: To wage a war of attrition against Israel. The two groups already have a strong military presence in the West Bank, especially in the cities of Jenin and Nablus, which are governed by the Palestinian Authority.
“Gaza is not the only field of resistance and struggle, but this struggle has also moved to the West Bank,” Salami said, hinting that the mullahs were providing weapons to the Palestinians in the West Bank.
“Just as Gaza was armed [by Iran], the West Bank can be armed in the same way, and this process will happen. Obtaining weapons has become much easier than before. There is no safe place at any time for Israel and its citizens.”
He boasted that a “large number of Zionists” have been killed in terrorist attacks by Palestinian terrorists in the past few months and stressed “the necessity of continuing the jihad [holy war]” against Israel.
The Palestinians, Salami added, “are now able to target any point in the Zionist entity, and this means that there is no safe place for the Zionists to protect them from Palestinian fire. The Palestinians have realized who their true friends are [Iran].”
He said that Hezbollah was also ready to join the fight against Israel:
“Hezbollah, which gained important experiences during the Syrian [civil] war, can lead a ground war and achieve victory… The Zionists know that the land is liberated by ground forces.”
As part of the mullahs’ plan to initiate another wave of terror against Israel, Salami said that he recently met in Tehran with Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah and discussed with him “the disintegration and erosion of the capabilities of the Zionists.”
Under pressure from the Iranian regime, Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives held a meeting in the Gaza Strip earlier this week to discuss ways of stepping up the “resistance” against Israel.
The meeting came amid reports of tensions between the two terrorist groups in the aftermath of Hamas’s failure to join the recent three-day fighting between Israel and Islamic Jihad. Islamic Jihad and Iran are said to be disappointed with the Hamas terrorists for not coming to the rescue of their brothers in Islamic Jihad during the fighting with Israel.
Hamas did not join the fighting apparently for fear of being hit hard by Israel. Hamas seems to be worried that it could lose control of the Gaza Strip if it engages in another war with Israel, especially in light of the heavy casualties the group and many residents of the Gaza Strip sustained during previous rounds of attacks on Israel.
In an attempt to appease their masters in Tehran, Hamas and Islamic Jihad issued a joint statement after the meeting in which they pledged to step up the “armed struggle” against Israel “until the liberation [of all of Palestine, from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea],” a euphemism for the destruction of Israel.
The threats by the IRGC against Israel and America’s Arab allies should be sufficient to stop the Biden administration from surrendering to the mullahs’ demand to remove the group from the list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations.
These threats, in addition, should serve as a reminder to the Biden administration of Iran’s bloody schemes against Israel and Arab countries. Anyone who thinks that the mullahs will abandon their plans after the signing of a new nuclear deal is deceiving him or herself. The opposite is true: appeasement will only further fortify the mullahs and their proxies, and place into further peril the lives of both Arabs and Jews.
Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.