Don’t Just Destroy the Iran Deal — Deliver an Alternative
May 8, 2018, the day that Donald Trump announced that he’s pulling America out of the nuclear deal with Iran, will mark the inauguration of a new American-Israeli-Arab alliance in the Middle East and a major realignment of US strategic interests.
The administration had extended waivers on Iran’s nuclear sanctions on multiple occasions to allow for the US — together with our partners — to fix the fatal flaws of the JCPOA. Unfortunately, European leaders failed to commit to sufficiently meaningful amendments, especially on the most important element: the sunset clauses of the accord; as well as verification mechanisms, ballistic missiles, and the development of advanced centrifuges, leaving the current JCPOA fatally flawed.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano, charged with implementing and monitoring the agreement, has acknowledged that the accord is unverifiable, and that the IAEA is unable to assure the world that Iran is not continuing to lie and work on nuclear weapons or warheads in secret, beyond the reach of inspectors.
The JCPOA was built on false premises and riddled with flaws. It enabled Iran’s bad behavior across the region, enriched and empowered the Islamic Republic’s military and terrorist operations, and put them on a path to a massive, modern nuclear program with a breakout time of just weeks in less than eight years.
Yet today, the daunting security challenges that we face remain the same. The White House announcement changed the tactics, but it didn’t change the fact that all of us must work together to prevent Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons. We must confront the threat the Iranian regime poses to the region it seeks to dominate, as well as to the world through its sophisticated state-sponsored army of terror embedded on every continent.
We need a strategy that both isolates Iran and closes off Tehran’s nuclear pathway by giving the United States and our allies access to the tools of financial and diplomatic pressure needed to confront the totality of the threat posed by the Islamic Republic’s revolutionary military dictatorship. For too long, those options were constrained by concerns that the pressure to confront Iran — to stop its support of Assad’s slaughter of millions, of the Houthis in Yemen, of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and Hezbollah’s terror — would undermine the nuclear accord.
A strong American-Israeli-Saudi-led Arab alliance working with our European allies, India, and Japan will be pivotal for creating the pressure needed to arrive at a more prosperous, stable Middle East free of the threat of Iranian terror and aggression; as well as one in which Iran has made the moves to become a member of the international community in good standing once again.
Thanks to the Israeli intelligence coup revealed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the US now has access to undeniable evidence of Iran’s clear effort and intent to build nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them — and their record of deceit to cover it all up.
The Islamic Republic remains the foremost sponsor of state terrorism. It threatens the existence of our closest ally, Israel. Tehran engages in cyber warfare, drug smuggling, and money laundering. The despotic regime holds American citizens hostage. And it sponsors murderous regimes and brutal terrorist groups in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, and Gaza.
By re-imposing sanctions, America and our allies will regain the leverage needed to push Iran to make the choices it needs to make: Relinquish its military nuclear capabilities, end its effort to export its revolutionary ideals though terrorism and support for proxy wars, and allow the people of Iran to live free from the yoke of the regime’s violent ideological repression.
Any agreed-upon solution to the threat from Iran must include the following: Snap inspections of all Iranian suspected nuclear facilities, including military ones, no more taking them at their word; a verifiable end to Iran’s missile programs, whether long- or short-range; no sunset clause; a permanent and verifiable end to Iran’s nuclear ambitions; verifiable limitations on Iran’s research and development on advanced centrifuges; reinstatement of the UN arms and missile embargo on Iran; reinstatement of sanctions on IRGC officials that were removed under the deal; and the withdrawal of all Iranian military personnel, militias, and equipment from regional states, starting with Syria.
Amidst all the noise, we must keep our eyes on what’s important and focus on a broader strategy that addresses Iran’s illicit nuclear and non-nuclear activities hand-in-hand with our European, Israeli, and Arab allies. It’s the best way forward to guarantee what the JCPOA has failed to do: stop Iran from ever acquiring nuclear weapons, and protect the American people and our allies from the world’s leading state sponsor of terror.
Joshua S. Block is president and CEO of The Israel Project.