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July 7, 2015 1:12 pm

Dennis Ross: Unfrozen Iranian Funds Will Shift Mideast Balance of Power Toward Tehran

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Dennis Ross. Photo: wiki commons.

Dennis Ross. Photo: wiki commons.

One of the ramifications of finalizing the nuclear deal with Iran would be a shifting of the balance of Middle East power in Tehran’s favor, wrote longtime State Department negotiator Dennis Ross in Politico on Monday.

If negotiators emerge from their chambers in Vienna with a finalized deal — and right now the deadline has been postponed for the second time to July 10 — and sanctions are phased out according to Iranian compliance, then within six to 12 months Iran could receive up to $150 billion in frozen assets, wrote Ross.

And “even if it chose to use 90 percent of those funds to address real domestic needs, $15 billion could have a dramatic effect on Iran’s ability to use Hezbollah and other Shiite militias to pursue its ‘resistance’ agenda in the region and continue to shift the balance of power in its favor,” wrote Ross, who was a special adviser to former secretary of state Hillary Clinton on Iran.

Iranian-backed groups have been engaged in violent conflicts in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, eastern Saudi Arabia and the Gaza Strip.

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Ross insisted that Iran had a lot to gain from signing a nuclear agreement with world powers, albeit one, Ross cautioned, that did not back away from the framework laid out in Lausanne, Switzerland in April.

“It is permitted to preserve its enrichment infrastructure and to have an industrial-size nuclear program at the end of the 15-year period for the agreement. It will be a nuclear threshold state at that point, effectively not having given up the nuclear weapons option but simply deferring it,” he wrote.

Ross said the deal basically amounted to lifting international sanctions on Iran, which have crippled the country’s economy, in exchange for full transparency, though Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei declared recently that inspectors would not have access to all of Iran’s military sites, even if the International Atomic Energy Agency had substantiated suspicions.

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  • Walter Sobchak

    A month ago, I heard Rabbi Daniel Gordis speaking about the problems with the Iran negotiations.

    After the meeting I wrote a letter to Rabbi Gordis as follows:

    1. “Put not your trust in princes.” Don’t trust Obama on the subject of Iran. [I was right about that.]

    * * *

    2. Civil Defense. A nuclear weapon attack on Israel would be a catastrophe. But, it should not be the end of the Jewish people in their Land. Nothing will save the lives of those at ground zero if a nuclear weapon is detonated, but those who are not vaporized by the fireball, stand a chance if they can be protected from fallout and other indirect effects of the explosion. To that end, Israel must provide protection from fallout and other indirect effects through a system of shelters. I acknowledge that Israel has constructed bomb shelters to protect against conventional missiles and poison gas, but, and this is based entirely on my reading, they are not up to the task of civil defense against nuclear attack.

    I mentioned the book “La Place de la Concorde Suisse” by John McPhee. The book is an exposition of the Swiss Army, which was the model for the Israeli Army. It has an extensive discussion of the Swiss Civil Defense system that was written during the Cold War, and published in 1983. Like all of McPhee’s work, it is extraordinarily well written.

    Israel should immediately act to build a civil defense system like the Swiss did during the Cold War. Israel should ask the US to pick up a large portion of the cost of such a system, because it was American ineptness, that put Israel in harm’s way.

    3. There is such a thing as missile defense against long range missiles. Israel is involved in at least two projects intended to provide that defense: Arrow and David’s Sling. Both projects need major injections of funds from the United States, just as it should fund civil defense.

    Israel should also permanently station missile defense radars on the Golan Heights in that event. This will be easier as there will never again be a Syria to give the Golan back to.

    4. No Israeli Attack on Iran. For the time being, Obama will continue do his best to protect Iran from Israeli attack anyway. I am very skeptical that Israel has the ability to permanently end Iran’s nuclear program. It would assuredly take months worth of bombing by high altitude heavy bombers like the B2 and the B52. Only the US has that capability.

    5. America is in Danger Too. An excellent point that you made at the end of the program. Iran does not need missiles to attack the United States. They could load nuclear weapons onto cargo ships and sail them into the harbors of major American cities such as New York and LA. Israel should remind the US of that.

    6. The Mortgage on the Mosque. The Iranians are prone to rant about the Al-Aqsa Mosque, i.e. the structures on the Temple Mount. Israel should make it clear to the Iranians that any nuclear attack on Israel will cause Israel to remove the buildings from the Temple Mount and ban all Muslim entry into the area.

    7. The Palestinian Surety. The land and property of the Palestinians must also secure the peaceful behavior of the Iranians. If any portion of Israel is made uninhabitable by an Iranian nuclear attack, Israel must seize Palestinian land for its people. Israel should also reserve the right to conscript the Palestinians for decontamination work in that event.

    6 & 7 are not for broadcast, but they should be made known to the Iranians and to Sunni powers who would communicate with the Iranians on behalf of Israel.

    That was a month ago. The negotiations have been completed, and if anything the final product is worse than we feared. The punch line will be the sanctions are over, Iran will pocket $150 billion, and Iran has made promises that they have no intention of honoring. Israel needs to take effective action to counter Iran, especially, Civil Defense.

  • Yale

    Anyone who believes what Ross has said should be working to ensure that NO deal comes out of the negotiations and that the West return to a path of sanity by ratcheting up the sanctions against Iran.

  • zadimel

    I feel that economics continues to have more to do with the decision by the West to eliminate the severe restrictions in place against the Iranian government than any concern for the safety of the Jewish state. Israel may have to act by itself to remove the terrorist regime in Iran by itself to protect its security and that of its neighbors.

    • zadimel

      In the second sentence, I used two expressions “by itself.” Only one should have been present. Sorry.

  • Lawrence

    The Obama administration and its collaborators should be brought up on dereliction of duty charges. Despite the fact that last week, five top ranking military officers wrote to Obama and told him not to go through with these negotiations, Iran’s refusal to allow regulators to inspect their nuclear facilities, the increase in Iranian demands, and the fact that just yesterday, Iran publicly commented that regardless of what the U.S. does, they still consider the U.S. to be their enemy, Obama is still obsessed with going through with whatever you want to call these meetings. To make matters worse, Obama has not objected to one of Iran’s demands, given Iran billions of dollars, and has repeatedly pushed the deadline back. Also, Iran’s core nuclear facilities and centrifuges will remain intact. As many people have already have said, a nuclear weapon equipped Iran will increase instability in the region and increase the possibility of other countries getting their own nuclear weapons. One of the most fundamental responsibilities of a government, is to protect its own people and Obama’s actions will do the exact opposite. Obama’s maltreatment and blatant hostility towards Israel is disgraceful. Instead of bad mouthing Israel, Obama should have been working with them, the same holds true with other nations as well. The p5+1 members should also be objecting to Obama’s plans, not just in words but actions as well, as should the U.N. But, none of these things will happen because we live in a morally bankrupt world, it’s much easier and more expedient to treat Israel like dirt and slander them, than it is to act responsibly. The world will pay a heavy price for poor decisions and anti Semitism.

  • What is wrong with the world that they do not see and understand the you cannot give a Extremist Muslim country an atomic bomb?

  • steven L

    The West knew and knows all this for the past 61/2 years.

  • Michael Mayben

    DO NOT TRUST IRAN. They will say anything to appease the world concerns regarding their desire in becoming a nuclear power. Any nation that believes otherwise is a fool. They have unleashed their ISIS terrorist to further their extremist Islam religion of holy war on the worlds nations what’s to keep them from doing the same with nuclear capabilities?

  • noellsq

    this negotiation with Iran is a total farce. It has been going on for 2 years i think and they have broken every agreement.The world should increase embargo and increase sanctions and bomb the f–k out of their facilities before it is too late.

  • Carlos Decourcy Lascoutx

    in Nuclear war it is the country with the densest population
    that has most to lose. the dangerous ones are small nuclear
    nations with no target population. trust is hard to come by, but a mideast country with a large, long and distinguished wine cellar of history such as Iran/Persia is not going to uncork every bottle it has in store for an importunate
    client squatting on their doorstep with a credit card for
    300 warheads backed up by the melon bank.

  • Jack Tucker

    The power balance moves to Tehran’s automatically because Iraq and Syria have imploded.

    In the 1980’s, Iran and Iraq essentially destroyed each other, leaving both sides exhausted and their militaries completely wasted.

    The same has happened in the last decade in Syria and Iraq, but Tehran has managed to stay out of the fray. As a result there is no power left to stand up to Iran–other than the Saudis whose military is not large enough, and of course Irael and the United States.

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