PA financial crisis/ Fixing the Iran nuclear deal
May 3, 2019 | AIJAC staff
Update 05/19 #01
This Update features material on the growing financial crisis being faced by the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the wake of its refusal to accept tax funds from Israel because of Israel’s deduction from these funds of money allocated for “pay for slay” payments to terrorists and their families, and its implications for Palestinian politics.
It also features a definitive piece discussing future US options with respect to the JCPOA nuclear deal, which the Trump Administration has withdrawn from.
We lead with Palestinian Affairs reporter Khaled Abu Toameh, together with Tovah Lazaroff, exploring the details and background of the PA crisis. They detail PA President Abbas’ repeated defiant statements on the crisis, and refusal to accept Israeli tax transfer with the “pay to slay” deduction, and also the attempts to ameliorate the crisis from Arab sources and international donors, none looking highly promising. They also look at the connection between the crisis and the “Deal of the Century” peace proposal which the Trump Administration is expected to release shortly and which the PA is determined to reject, sight unseen. For all the background of this PA crisis, CLICK HERE. Also discussing the state of the PA’s finances, and how the PA leadership can make better choices to avoid collapse, is a Jerusalem Post editorial.
Next up is the always insightful and knowledgable Israeli journalist and author Ehud Yaari, looking at the US peace plan, the PA and Hamas reactions to it, and the growing possibility of a Gaza ceasefire. He also looks at the renewed calls by both Fatah and Hamas for a new unity government – a move which look unlikely to lead to anything. Yaari’s discussion of the state of the Gaza ceasefire negotiations and the real possibility they could lead to a deal is particularly valuable. For all the insights of this uniquely astute Middle East analyst, CLICK HERE.
Finally, nuclear physicist and former UN weapons inspector David Albright, together with colleague Andrea Stricker, discuss suggestions in the US Democratic party that a future Democratic President could simply rejoin the JCPOA nuclear deal that the Trump Administration withdrew from last year. They make a strong case that the net effect of doing this would be simply to empower Iran to, in the near future, vastly expand its conventional, missile and nuclear capabilities. They make a compelling argument that, even if critical of the Trump withdrawal, US policymakers should be seeking to work together with other players to leverage the current situation to force a better deal which remedies the JCPOA’s serious flaws. For Albright and Stricker’s complete analysis, CLICK HERE.
Readers may also be interested in…
- A good look at the implications of the Sri Lanka terror attacks last week from Israeli counter-terror expert Yoram Schweitzer.
- A definitive research-based answer to old myths about the link between terrorism and poverty.
- Some examples from the many stories and comments now appearing at AIJAC’s daily “Fresh AIR” blog:
- Colin Rubenstein in the West Australian on some dangerous obsessions with Israel and “Jewish Lobby” affecting the ALP.
- Naomi Levin in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph on the Greens’ problematic associations with anti-Israel radicals.
- Oved Lobel on the rebirth of the rogue Iran-Venezuela air-link known as “Aeroterror.”
- AIJAC’s statement on the San Diego Synagogue shooting last weekend.
- AIJAC letters on the line between criticism of Israel and antisemitism, and on the “Israel Apartheid” smear, in the Age and Hobart Mercury respectively.
Palestinians on verge of financial collapse
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH, TOVAH LAZAROFF
Jerusalem Post, 04/29/2019
The Palestinian Authority is facing imminent financial collapse over its refusal on principle to accept any tax revenues from Israel, and its dire call for help to the Arab world is mostly going unheeded.
If financial aid is not immediately forthcoming, the whole PA enterprise that has been in place since 1994 is likely to collapse.
The issue is the Israeli decision to withhold the sum of money that the PA gives monthly to terrorists in Israeli jails and their family members.
The PA feels so strongly about continuing payments to the people it holds to be martyrs on behalf of its cause, that it is willing to risk financial collapse.
“In the end, Israel will return our money in our way, and not in its way,” PA President Mahmoud Abbas said on Monday during a meeting of his government in Ramallah.
Abbas accused Israel of “stealing or deducting the money belonging to martyrs, the wounded and security prisoners.”
Chart of the controversial PA payments to convicted Palestinian terrorist prisoners, and the families of those killed carrying out terrorism, prepared by Palestinian Media Watch
He pledged not to back down from the intense game of financial chicken that the PA is playing with Israel over the terrorist payments.
The PA will not be able to pay its employees full salaries because of the Israeli tax withholding, Abbas said, pointing out that in the past two months employees received only half of their salaries. He said that this month, because of the month of Ramadan, the employees will receive 60% of their salaries.
The PA will never accept Israel’s decision to deduct payments from the tax and tariff revenues, regardless of the price, Abbas said.
Israel is trying, by all means, to “legitimize the deductions” it makes from the tax and revenues it collects on behalf of the Palestinians.
He expressed hope that the Palestinians would display patience in face of the financial crisis resulting from Israel’s move.
“We’re talking with Israel about the financial issue,” Abbas said. He noted that PA Minister for Civilian Affairs Hussein Sheikh met with Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon to discuss the issue.
Abbas said he was not pinning high hopes on promises by Arab states to provide the Palestinians with a financial safety net in light of Israel’s measures. “We asked for $100 million each month,” he said, referring to his speech before the recent Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Egypt. “We told them to consider it a loan which will be returned. When we get our money back from Israel, we will pay the loan. But until now, we haven’t received an answer [from the Arab states].”
“At this stage, we have decided to go to the world to explain the situation,” he said.
Praising Europe’s support for the Palestinians, Abbas told his cabinet ministers: “As you know, Europe invented Zionism and Israel, and I know this bothers Israel. Let’s not fool ourselves. That’s what history says. If anyone can refute this, please come forward.”
At the United Nations Security Council meeting in New York, ambassadors and the UN’s Under-Secretary-General Rosemary A. DiCarlo warned of the PA’s potential collapse.
“Despite the austerity measures announced and the recent pledges of support by Arab states, the risk of a financial collapse of the Palestinian Authority is growing,” DiCarlo said.
“A sustainable resolution of the PA’s funding crisis is urgently required,” she said, as she urged both Israelis and Palestinians to find a resolution.
DiCarlo also called on the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee set to meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss donor support for the Palestinians to tackle the issue of the financial crisis that “threatens the viability of the PA.”
The committee is chaired by Norway and includes representation from the UN, the European Union, the United States, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It is one of the few international forums where Israelis and Palestinians cooperatively interact.
A UN report published last week in advance of the meeting estimated that Israel planned to withhold $140 million in 2019 – approximately $11.5 m. a month – in tax revenues over the terrorist payment issues.
The sum Israel is withholding over the terrorist payments represents 6% of its tax revenues, the UN said. The overall tax revenues represent 65% of the PA’s budget, the UN added, explaining that this was equal to 15% of the PA’s GDP.
Likud MK Avi Dichter, who chaired the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee during the 20th Knesset, told Reshet Bet that 8% of the PA budget went to the terrorist payments.
The UN noted that the tax crisis was only one of the economic factors effecting the PA, which was already weakened by the loss of close to half-a-billion dollars in annual US funding. This included $230m. in development money and $360m. for the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees.
“In January 2019, the PA returned to the US NIS448m. (US$123m.) in program funding to avoid liability under the US Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act, 2018,” the UN said.
The fiscal crisis comes in advance of the rollout of the Trump administration’s peace plan, which the PA has rejected.
Abbas criticized the US administration for violating “written agreements” with the Palestinians, especially by closing the PLO diplomatic mission in Washington, moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. “We talked with the Americans about these issues more than a year ago and agreed that they would not do these things,” he said. “We’re capable of saying and doing things in response [to these decisions]. We’re not challenging America, but we have dignity and rights.”
Referring to US President Donald Trump’s upcoming plan for peace in the Middle East, also known as the “deal of the century,” Abbas said there’s nothing left for the Palestinians to expect from the plan. “Many parties are telling us that we need to be patient and wait,” he said. “But wait for what? We’ve been patient for 70 years, and we are ready to wait another 10 and 20 years. But wait for what? We have already announced our position: we are against the deal of the century.”
The PA president said that despite the US administration’s decisions, he has not closed all doors with the Trump administration and Congress. “We’re not opposed to dialogue if they want it,” he said.
Abbas repeated his charge that Israel has failed to implement all the agreements signed with the Palestinians since the 1993 Oslo Accords. The Palestinians, he said, want to live with Israel in peace. “You don’t choose your neighbor,” he said. “These are my neighbors and I have to reach understandings with them – but not at any cost.”
Israel’s Armistice with Hamas, Growing Tensions with Abbas
Policy Watch, April 24, 2019
Releasing the U.S. peace plan could accelerate recent Palestinian political dynamics, with Hamas consolidating its position via ceasefire and reconstruction aid while the PA continues isolating itself.
As Israel and the Palestinians brace for the announced unveiling of President Trump’s “deal of the century” sometime in the coming weeks, rival factions in Ramallah and the Gaza Strip have adopted contradictory strategies for managing the repercussions. The Palestinian Authority is already committed to rejecting the U.S. plan and wants Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu to resume peace negotiations under Russian auspices. Yet Israel has politely ignored such proposals in the past and is unlikely to replace White House mediation with the Kremlin’s.
Meanwhile, PA president Mahmoud Abbas has issued vague warnings that he may take retaliatory measures if Israel’s soon-to-form right-wing coalition government opts to annex settlement blocs in the West Bank. During internal deliberations over the past few months, his Fatah party passed recommendations to suspend the 1993 Oslo Accords, withdraw recognition of the state of Israel, cease security cooperation, and even dismantle the PA. He has also refused to receive customs funds collected by Israel so long as payments to “martyr” families and terrorist prisoners are deducted from the transfers—a stance that has exacerbated the PA’s ongoing financial crisis.
In Gaza, Hamas shares Abbas’s outright refusal to discuss the U.S. plan, but the group is inching closer to a separate set of understandings with Israel. Brokered by senior military officials from Egypt’s General Intelligence Directorate, UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov, and Qatari aid coordinator Mohammed al-Emadi, these understandings have been under discussion for over a year but may now be reaching the point of fruition. If so, they could stabilize the turbulent situation in Gaza, establish a fragile long-term ceasefire, and usher in a generous package of economic programs. In short, while the PA appears to be sliding toward open confrontation with Israel, Hamas may soon dramatically reduce tensions with the “Zionist enemy,” at least for the time being.
Hamas and Fatah are again talking up a new Palestinian unity agreement, despite dozens of failed past attempts over the past decades, include the reconciliation agreement above, signed in Cairo in October 2017, but never fully implemented
FROM RECONCILIATION TO RECRIMINATION
Recently, PA and Hamas leaders have been exchanging highly emotional public pleas for speedy Palestinian reconciliation, hoping to unify the ranks before the U.S. plan is released. Both factions argue that establishing a “unity government” and scheduling early elections for the PA presidency and Palestinian Legislative Council would convince Arab states to reject what they believe will be a one-sided U.S. proposal.
So far, however, they are stubbornly avoiding any concessions that would help end the twelve-year split between Gaza and the West Bank. Egypt has hosted numerous rounds of talks between top Fatah and Hamas representatives over that period and produced agreements on the broad principles of reconciliation, but none of them has matured to the implementation phase.
Hamas welcomes PA leaders to return to Gaza and govern the territory, but it refuses to disarm its militia forces or even hand over command of the police. It also insists on retaining the thousands of officials it has appointed since taking control of the Strip in 2007, while PA employees were instructed to stay home. In response, Abbas has refused to become the “subcontractor” who carries the formidable burden of running Gaza while Hamas turns itself into another Hezbollah, maintaining an independent army with a large arsenal of missiles. Reconciliation talks are now at a dead end, and the parties are unlikely to bridge their gaps anytime soon.
Ironically, even as Hamas and Fatah denounce each other’s contacts with Israel, both are pursuing dialogue with Netanyahu’s team. The PA has preserved effective security cooperation with Israeli military and intelligence agencies as well as close coordination on economic issues. Although Abbas has not met with Netanyahu for years, communication channels are kept open and busy via the head of the Israel Security Agency.
In Gaza, Hamas is rushing to transform the continuous border flare-ups into a kind of armistice with Israel. Abbas has described this effort as a U.S.-backed “conspiracy” aimed at creating a separate “statelet,” arguing that such an outcome would obstruct full Palestinian statehood. He has also cut a great deal of funding to Gaza, which previously amounted to 52 percent of the PA budget. This has caused a severe currency shortage, exacerbated Gaza’s problems with unemployment, electricity, and food supplies, and stirred unprecedented street protests against Hamas. The group dispersed these demonstrations within days, but the incident showed that its iron grip may be at risk.
THE ROAD TO ISRAEL-HAMAS UNDERSTANDINGS
Since becoming the top Hamas leader in Gaza two years ago, Yahya al-Sinwar has concluded that the group cannot afford an all-out military escalation with Israel, let alone achieve its demands for a free sea and airport in the Strip by that route. He spent twenty-two years in Israeli jails, speaks fluent Hebrew, and follows the Israeli media religiously, so he understands that Netanyahu’s response to another major confrontation would be far more devastating than Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Meanwhile, Hamas has lost most of its cross-border attack tunnels into Israel and is struggling to maintain its rocket arsenal after Egypt cut its smuggling routes through the Sinai Peninsula.
Hamas leader in Gaza Yahya al-Sinwar has concluded Hamas cannot afford an all-out military confrontation with Israel – but is trying to apply fluctuating pressure on Israel to agree to Hamas terms for a ceasefire.
Given these military disadvantages and the PA’s refusal to shoulder responsibility for Gaza’s economic crisis, Sinwar has decided to build his strategy upon the Israeli leadership’s clear preference for containment over war. Backed by the Israel Defense Forces general staff, Netanyahu has repeatedly signaled his readiness to help ease Gaza’s humanitarian crisis once calm is restored.
Therefore, Sinwar has applied fluctuating degrees of pressure to achieve better terms from Israel since March 2018, instigating weekly border clashes on Mondays and Fridays under the slogan “March of Return.” Hamas has encouraged thousands of protestors—but rarely its own cadres—to storm the Israeli security barrier, with some elements throwing explosive charges at IDF soldiers, floating incendiary balloons that have set large fires inside Israel, and occasionally launching rocket salvos. Netanyahu ordered the IDF to prevent penetration of Israeli positions and villages, yet its response has been calculated to avoid all-out escalation.
Today, both sides want a ceasefire. Netanyahu has received growing criticism for his restraint, while Sinwar was excoriated for sending teenagers and unarmed demonstrators to be killed or injured. Both would like to silence their detractors by ending the cycle of violence.
The new understandings, awaiting final touches, aim to quiet the border in return for a multiyear Gaza aid package, to which donors have already pledged $300 million. Benefits would include:
- Extending Gaza’s fishing zone to fifteen nautical miles for the first time in thirty years
- Allowing around one-third of previously prohibited dual-use goods to enter Gaza through Israeli crossing points
- Reconstructing the industrial parks at the Erez and Karni crossings to attract (mainly Israeli) investors interested in Gaza’s cheap labor force
- Providing jobs for 20,000 unemployed Gazans through a $45 million infrastructure upgrade program supervised by the UN and World Bank
- Establishing additional electricity lines to Gaza, converting the local power station to natural gas, and constructing solar power stations
- Building a water purification plant financed by Saudi Arabia
- Expanding al-Shifa, Gaza’s main hospital, with Kuwaiti funds
If the Trump administration goes forward with its stated intention of presenting peace parameters this summer, the Palestinian political landscape could change substantially. Hamas will say no to Trump, secure behind Israeli ceasefire understandings, international economic assistance, and a likely boost to its prestige in Gaza. The PA is bound to say no as well, but from a position of weakness, isolation, and strained relations with Israel. This contrast would give Hamas room to accelerate its infiltration of the West Bank. For its part, Israel will likely let Washington absorb the negative Palestinian responses before issuing one of its own.
Ehud Yaari is a Lafer International Fellow with The Washington Institute and a veteran commentator for Israeli television.
Don’t Rejoin the Iran Deal, Fix It
Reentering the Iran nuclear deal and dropping U.S. sanctions, as some have recommended, will only increase the risks of Iran developing nuclear weapons.
by David Albright, Andrea Stricker
The National Interest, April 4, 2019
Should the United States rejoin the Iran nuclear deal and rescind reimposed U.S. sanctions? This course of action is being recommended by deal supporters, who want to reverse the Trump administration’s decision last year to unilaterally leave the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and ramp up U.S. sanctions against Iran. Despite the U.S. decision, other parties have so far kept the deal intact. Deal supporters have expressed fears that Iran would walk away from the deal, but Iran has so far not done so and would suffer even worse economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation if it were to leave the deal.
For the US to rejoin the 2015 nuclear deal without getting anything in return from Iran would be, in essence, to “bless Iran to enlarge its conventional, missile, and nuclear programs.”
Notwithstanding good intentions, rejoining the deal without the necessary fixes to it would, in essence, bless Iran to enlarge its conventional, missile, and nuclear programs without receiving any commensurate concessions from Iran. All these increases will occur during the next administration, whoever wins the presidential election. Whatever one’s views of the Trump administration’s decision to no longer participate in the nuclear agreement, this approach will not address its flaws and the threat of Iran being able to build nuclear weapons. Rather than making this a partisan issue, a better option is to use the new leverage created by the reimposition of sanctions to build domestic and international consensus to fix the flaws in the deal during the next few years.
The Democratic National Committee adopted a resolution that lauded the deal’s achievements and advocated for reentry. It did not urge any preconditions for a U.S. return. The statements urging rejoining typically contain notable mischaracterizations, such as asserting that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated Iranian “compliance” with the deal, something the IAEA has never certified in its quarterly safeguards reports. Moreover, each quarter since the deal has been implemented in January 2016, the IAEA has reported that it still has not been able to determine that Iran has no undeclared nuclear facilities and materials and thus cannot conclude that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful. While Iran has been pressed successfully to stop its multiple technical violations of specific nuclear limitations, the basic proposition of whether Iran seeks nuclear weapons has not been answered in the three-plus years since the deal commenced.
If the United States unconditionally rejoined the deal, it would sacrifice important leverage to reach a stronger agreement with Iran that fixes well-known shortcomings in the current deal: the end to key nuclear limitations, the failure to address ballistic and cruise missile development related to nuclear weapon delivery, and the need for more effective inspections to characterize Iran’s past and possibly ongoing nuclear weapon activities. Rejoining the nuclear deal unconditionally would seriously undermine U.S. security interests in the Middle East and increase the risk to the security of our allies in the region.
Supporters of the deal had hoped that the deal by itself would open new diplomatic channels to address other international concerns, such as Iran’s aggressive regional behavior, ballistic missile developments, and human-rights violations. In reality, these international concerns have grown worse following the implementation of the nuclear deal. European diplomats are coming to appreciate that, even while they have sought to stay in the deal. Increasingly, even supporters of the deal in the United States recognize that.
Rejoining the deal without preconditions means supporting the provision in the JCPOA that allows Iran to start building up its industrial infrastructure to build advanced gas centrifuges that enrich uranium in 2023, just four years from now, during the next presidential term. A more sensible strategy is to oppose that increase in Iran’s nuclear weapons capability, particularly since Iran has been unable to produce any economic or otherwise credible justification for its uranium enrichment program. Based on information gathered by the IAEA in the course of inspections, Iran will never be able to produce low enriched uranium more cheaply than simply buying it from the international commercial market.
Iran’s centrifuge program is a commercial failure. International concerns regarding Iran’s regional behavior and latent nuclear weapons capabilities have grown far worse following the implementation of the nuclear deal, making growth in its centrifuge program a dangerous proposition. A scale-up in Iran’s centrifuge program, as envisioned under Iran’s long-term enrichment plan developed alongside the JCPOA, should thus be viewed as representing a military nuclear program, rather than welcomed and encouraged. For those who want to ensure that Iran does not have the capacity to build a nuclear military infrastructure, the goal of the JCPOA, would not want to implicitly endorse an unbridled, uneconomic increase in Iran’s uranium enrichment gas centrifuge program starting during the next president’s term. Growth in Iran’s enrichment program would likely spur an increase of the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia, drastically reduce Iran’s breakout timeline to missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, and heighten the chances of military confrontations. It would mean conceding once again to these shortcomings rather than demanding that they be addressed using the new leverage garnered through reimposed sanctions and Iran’s relative diplomatic isolation.
Satellite image showing the Saudi nuclear plant near Riyadh nearing completion – the authors argue allowing Iran to press ahead with enrichment will “spur an increase of the spread of nuclear weapons in the region, particularly in Saudi Arabia”
Rejoining also means accepting the end of the UN conventional arms embargo on Iran, slated to happen no later than October 2020, as codified in UNSC Resolution 2231, a resolution closely associated with the JCPOA. At that time, Iran will be able to freely import conventional arms and military hardware from such states as Russia and China. Iran has already lined up billions of dollars in contracts with Russia for advanced conventional weaponry, and a military pact with China that it can execute when the embargo ends. Rejoining the JCPOA without changes would be a tacit acceptance of the end of the arms embargo and Iran being able to arm itself as never before, posing a much greater risk to U.S. and allied forces in the region.
Iran’s development of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons has also continued apace, with Iran conducting multiple launches of nuclear-capable missiles in defiance of UN Resolution 2231. These developments threaten U.S. allies in the region, Europe, and ultimately threaten the United States with nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). How are U.S. national-security interests in the Middle East served by an end to the UN missile embargo on Iran, slated to end no later than 2023, as stipulated under UN Resolution 2231? Support for reentering the JCPOA offers implicit support for ending this ballistic missile embargo. At that point, Iran will be able to freely import missile technology, materiel, and equipment from willing suppliers. One can imagine how dangerous North Korean/Iranian missile cooperation could become as both seek to build longer range, more reliable nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.
The IAEA has only slowly investigated the contents of a curated “Nuclear Archive” kept by Iran, and it has not ensured that all non-peaceful Iranian activities have been terminated and relevant capabilities dismantled. In April 2018, revelations about this Iranian archive emerged, underlining the key weaknesses of the deal’s implementation in not requiring the IAEA to conduct a thorough investigation to ensure Iran’s military nuclear work had ended before granting sanctions relief.
The archive contains tens of thousands of pages and CDs on Iran’s past efforts at nuclear weapon design, development, and manufacturing, which the Institute for Science and International Security has assessed in an ongoing series of reports. Although, Iran made important reductions in the scale and scope of its rapidly moving nuclear weapons program, information from the archive shows that in 2003 it also reoriented key parts of its nuclear weapons program to preserve vital nuclear capabilities, continue working on sensitive military nuclear weapon aspects in a more clandestine manner, and embed certain nuclear weapons activities into ostensibly civilian programs. It also shows that Iran serially lied in its declarations to the IAEA about many sensitive activities and facilities.
While supporters of the JCPOA still tout the agreement as allowing the most intrusive inspections ever designed, the archive shows that the nuclear deal struck a bad bargain in sweeping the issue of past and possibly ongoing nuclear weapons activities under the rug. IAEA inspections have so far proven inadequate in ensuring the absence of ongoing nuclear weapon activities.
The existence of a curated archive is a strong indication of Iranian violations of the JCPOA, Iran’s safeguards agreements, and even the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). In other countries, when such archives were discovered, their possession was seen as a violation of the NPT. The existence of the archive shows an Iranian determination to keep at least a nuclear weapons option alive, if not actually meaning that Iran is secretly advancing portions of its nuclear weapons efforts today. After all these years, that the IAEA cannot answer the basic question about whether Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful is a troubling blemish on the JCPOA and the NPT.
Achieving stronger inspections in Iran is a priority to ensure that Iran does not have undeclared nuclear facilities, materials, and activities. All should support the IAEA raising the archive with Iran and ensuring access to sites, equipment, and individuals detailed in the archive. Ending sanctions and rejoining the JCPOA is not a vehicle to obtain these goals.
Finally, rejoining the JCPOA misses a critical opportunity to work together to fix the flaws in the JCPOA and reach a supplementary or new agreement that ensures that Iran does not continue on a trajectory of maintaining and expanding its nuclear weapons capabilities, including the development of nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missiles. The most likely endpoint of the JCPOA is an Iran that in about a decade can quickly build nuclear weapons mounted on intermediate-range and intercontinental ballistic missiles, lacks an inspection regime that can ensure that Iran does not have undeclared nuclear facilities and materials, and has a greatly expanded conventional armed forces and ballistic missile arsenal. Presidential candidates and policymakers alike should reconsider the implications of walking that pathway if they want to adopt a serious foreign-policy platform that protects U.S. national-security interests. Far better to use the growing leverage to build domestic and international support for a new agreement which fixes the deficiencies in the current deal.
David Albright, a physicist, is the founder and president of the Institute for Science and International Security where Andrea Stricker is a senior policy analyst.