Malley also said that “verification will be easily determined by the International Atomic Energy Administration (IAEA).” This does not conform at all to the reality on the ground in Iran. Earlier this month, the story emerged that Iran has been restricting access to nuclear inspectors at its main nuclear power plant in Natanz. When they have been let in, the IAEA nuclear watchdogs have found suspicious particles at several undeclared sites. “They are provoking us,” said one Western official who closely monitors the IAEA.
Getting back to his April 2 interview, Malley cites the progress that Iran has made towards a nuclear bomb since the United States, under former President Donald Trump, withdrew from the 2015 nuclear deal as the reason for the necessity of returning to the deal. But correlation is not causation.
We had been promised by former president Barack Obama that once this deal was agreed to, Iran would be welcomed back into the international community, with its maligned behavior curbed. The United States did not announce its withdrawal from the nuclear deal until May of 2018. Iran had three full years to prove to the world that they had become civilized, with our inducement of $150 billion as a windfall in 2015.
None of this windfall has trickled down to the impoverished people in Iran, but has been used to arm Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Hamas, and the Houthis in Yemen. It has simply made the Middle East more volatile.
In Lebanon, which has become nothing more than a puppet state of Iran, billionaire businessman Najib Mikati has just been appointed as the prime minister-designate and has the firm backing of Hezbollah. One cannot count on Makati to cleanse the state of its corruption and cronyism that has infected every sphere of life there, and the throat of the good people of Lebanon remains under Hezbollah and Iran’s firm boot.
Today, the streets of Iran are erupting. What began as an isolated demonstration because the government absconded with water during the hot summer and because of the horrific drought in Khuzestan province has spread rapidly throughout the country. In Khuzestan, we know that people have been murdered in the street, and that is with the internet service cut and a news blackout in that region.
People are being heard in Tehran chanting, “Shame! Khomeini, let go of this country!” and “mullahs, get lost!”
This is profoundly reminiscent of 2009, when millions of protestors were out on the streets holding up signs that read “Obama, where are you?” And the Obama White House ignored their anguished cries simply to get a horribly flawed nuclear deal.
If it is truly serious about wanting stability and peace in the region, the United States should support these brave protesters. We did it when we stared down the former Soviet Union, utilizing the human rights issue of the Soviet Jewry movement as leverage. We now have the opportunity not to ignore the courageous people in Iran and throughout the region who are suffering under Iranian militias and proxies.
Raisi, the notorious “butcher” of Tehran, is about to assume office. Iran is, perhaps, mere weeks away from total nuclear breakout. The tremors of the earthquake are already being felt.
What are we waiting for?
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC.