July 9, 2019

Iran Breaches Deal

“Iran has enriched uranium beyond a 3.67% purity limit set by its deal with major powers, the U.N. nuclear watchdog policing the deal said on Monday.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left sees Iran’s behavior as a direct result of Trump withdrawing from the Iran deal, and calls for diplomatic solutions.

“In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal, for no good reason other than he didn’t like it, despite the fact that international inspectors had repeatedly attested that the Iranians were in compliance with its terms. Then Trump not only re-imposed economic sanctions, which had been lifted with the signing of the deal, but also imposed ‘secondary sanctions’… And so, under the terms of the deal, Iran no longer has an obligation to meet itscommitments

“Even in its (quite delayed) response to Trump’s withdrawal, Iran did not violate the accord. Paragraph 36 of the JCPOA states that if one signatory of the pact believes that some others ‘were not meeting their commitments’ under the deal, then, after certain meetings and consultations, it would have ‘grounds to cease performing its commitments.’”
Fred Kaplan, Slate

Dated but relevant: “The administration has also curtailed Iran’s options for disposing of its excess energy-grade uranium. In May, it revoked authorization for Iran to sell the uranium abroad, as it had done under the nuclear agreement. Though Iran has largely disposed of the uranium by reprocessing it, the revocation underscored perceptions that Iran was being goaded into violating the agreement… In short, experts said, the United States, by its strategy and its sheer power, has closed off virtually all peaceful avenues for Iran to respond.”
Max Fisher, New York Times

“Importantly, both country’s leaders say they don’t want a war. But the possibility of one breaking out anyway shouldn’t be discounted, especially since an Iranian insult directed at Trump last month led him to threaten the Islamic Republic’s ‘obliteration’ for an attack on ‘anything American.’ In other words, Tehran doesn’t have to kill any US troops, diplomats, or citizens to warrant a military response — it just has to try. Which means the standstill between the US and Iran teeters on a knife edge, and it won’t take much to knock it off.”
Alex Ward, Vox

“When President Trump withdrew the United States from the nuclear accord with Iran and reapplied sanctions, Tehran’s response was easily foreseeable and widely predicted… [so] you’d think the Trump administration would have anticipated the Iranian response and gamed out its next moves, with the aim of achieving tangible objectives without plunging the United States into another Middle East war. Mr. Trump’s response to the Iranian announcements suggests otherwise. ‘Iran better be careful’ was all he had for reporters on Sunday. The empty words once again reveal the president’s lack of either a coherent goal for his ‘maximum pressure’ campaign, or a strategy for achieving it.”
Editorial Board, Washington Post

“The Trump administration’s maximum-pressure policy has brought us to the cliff of an armed confrontation and further inflamed the Gulf region… On Wednesday, President Rouhani had made it clear that Tehran’s measures were fully reversible: ‘All of our actions can be returned to the previous condition within one hour.’ His statement indicates a willingness to negotiate. Such openings offer a unique opportunity in conflict resolution and must be invested in immediately through expert and wise diplomatic engagement… It is time to bring sanity back to Washington and Tehran and commit to a citizen-centered, maximum-diplomacy approach that protects the fragile equilibrium between our countries.”
Shirin Ebadi and Jody Williams, New York Times

“Europe is racing against the clock to save the agreement… Europeans remain furious with the Trump administration for its unilateral pullout from the deal last year. They have little appetite to sign on to new sanctions, although they have even less interest in a nuclear Iran… [But] how long can Europe maintain its balancing act between the U.S. and Iran?
James McAuley and Michael Birnbaum, Washington Post

From the Right

The right supports increased sanctions against Iran in order to obtain a new, more restrictive, agreement.

The right supports increased sanctions against Iran in order to obtain a new, more restrictive, agreement.

“Trump administration was put in a terrible bind upon taking office. Staying in the deal meant the threat posed by Iran would only grow over time, and would leave an economically powerful and rich Iran—thanks to its sales of oil and gas—with the ability to develop a nuclear arsenal shortly after Trump left office. The other option—which it seems Trump has chosen—was to take on Tehran now, when it is much weaker, rather than leaving the problem to a future U.S. president to deal with…

“The poison pill in the deal was always that almost all its restrictions, designed to prevent Tehran from building a nuclear bomb, expire within 12-15 years after the deal was signed. That’s right, in a little more than a decade, Iran would have been free to do whatever it wanted with its nuclear program, unless a new accord was signed. And that’s not all. The deal itself never addresses the ways in which Iran could deliver a nuclear weapon. That means no restrictions on Iran’s quickly growing capabilities to research and develop ballistic and cruise missiles. That’s like taking a criminal’s ammo away but allowing him to keep the gun.”
Harry J. Kazianis, Fox News

“If the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement is so good at stopping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, how on Earth has Iran been able to move past the deal toward nukes so easily and quickly?… Even more importantly, the European Union has joined China and Russia in refusing to do what they promised they would do in this scenario: reintroduce sanctions. That speaks to the central weakness of the nuclear accord in the first place. It was always heavy on rhetoric (and cash for Iran) and always very weak on enforceable restrictions… Iran is showing why we desperately need a new nuclear agreement with Iran, one that actually constrains Iran's nuclear threat.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

“Critics of the president will say that we already have reneged on the agreement, so why wouldn’t the Iranians proceed? We betrayed them first. That position, however, presumes a moral equivalency upon our two nations that simply does not exist. The Iranians are a terrorist regime committed to the spread of sharia law, the obliteration of Israel, and the imposition of a worldwide caliphate. The United [States] is a nation of peace that only picks up the sword in the defense of itself or for those unable to defend themselves. Us backing out of an unsigned, paid-for-in-cash agreement with no real verification procedures is not the same as a nation with a track record of death and destruction moving boldly forward with nuclear weapon development…

“The argument against crippling sanctions is always the same; the average citizen will suffer and not the leaders. This argument holds no intellectual water whatsoever, save for those incapable of thinking ahead more than one step. Should the Iranians develop nuclear weapons and force us into war, do you think the people will suffer then? Should the Iranians develop nuclear weapons and use them preemptively against, say, Israel, do you think people will suffer then? Ending this conflict absent some form of suffering is no longer an option. The question is who is going to suffer, when, and how much… The Iranian economy cannot withstand strangulation, and we could very likely crumble the regime without firing a shot.”
Charlie Kirk, Breitbart

Some, however, argue that “When Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, he firmly believed that a policy of ‘maximum pressure’—built around the renewal of U.S. economic sanctions—would compel Iran to come to the negotiating table. That hasn’t happened, and today the United States finds itself on the brink of a war with Iran with no discernible diplomatic off-ramp. Instead, Europe, Russia, and China have condemned the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal and, however unsuccessful so far, are seeking ways to bypass U.S. sanctions… the inherent flaws of the JCPOA and Trump’s inability and/or unwillingness to work around them… have made a war all but inevitable.”
Scott Ritter, The American Conservative

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