On Iran, it's groundhog day all over again

The signals point towards the Democratic party’s default of empowering evil people

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign minster Jawad Zarif, Vienna, 2015

When anxiety first surfaced that in Joe Biden the US would once again be led by a president who would be soft on Iran, some others attempted a positive gloss. Don’t worry, they said; in light of Iran’s appalling aggression over the past four years and the fact that the regime was now far weaker than it had been, Biden would be exceptionally stupid to cosy up to Tehran and re-empower this lethal threat to the Middle East and the west.

But with the Biden era about to begin, those fears have become even stronger. For the signals are all pointing towards the Democratic party’s cultural default of empowering evil people both at home and abroad and abandoning or actively trashing their victims. And against stiff competition from the world’s tyrants (China, North Korea, Russia), the Iranian regime is arguably the most dangerous.

In 2015, it was given a tremendous boost by the nuclear deal, brokered by US President Barack Obama and supported by (to their eternal shame) the UK, France, Germany and others. The fiction was that the deal would stop Iran from developing the nuclear weapons with which they had pledged to erase Israel and attack the west, because the agreement would bring the regime in from the diplomatic cold and thus transform it into a regular government.

The opposite happened. The deal funnelled billions of dollars into the regime, enabling it to increase its dominance of the region, repress its own people still further and continue its sponsorship of international terrorism. Far from stopping the Iranian bomb, the terms of the deal meant that at best it would only delay the Iranian nuclear weapons programme by a few years, and only assuming that the regime would not continue to cheat and lie. 

It was actually a deal to facilitate the Iranian bomb and fund the regime’s genocidal and fanatical aggression abroad and tyrannical repression at home. It made Neville Chamberlain’s Munich agreement with Hitler look by comparison like an act of principled statesmanship. 

In May 2018, President Donald Trump withdrew the US from the deal and reimposed punitive sanctions on Iran. There are reports that the incoming Biden administration has already opened talks with Tehran over rejoining that agreement. 

Biden has said he wants a renegotiation of the terms of the deal before he agrees to rejoin it. But it is extremely unlikely that he will toughen those terms.

The team Biden has assembled which will deal with Iran is overwhelmingly Obama’s team that was responsible for the 2015 deal disaster. William Burns, who has been appointed director of the CIA, and Jake Sullivan, the new National Security Adviser, were instrumental in paving the way for the 2015 deal through the secret talks they had with Iran at Obama’s behest. 

The new Secretary of State is Anthony Blinken, who was also closely involved in creating the deal. He has wrong-headedly claimed that America’s withdrawal from it has placed Israel in more peril from Iran rather than less (which is emphatically not the view of Israel’s own government; but hey, what do they know?). 

Blinken’s deputy, meanwhile, is the ineffable Wendy Sherman, one of the most inept western diplomats ever to walk the international stage. Having offered North Korea various cash prizes and diplomatic concessions which president Kim Jong-il promptly pocketed while continuing to accumulate nuclear weapons, she subsequently matched this catastrophe by caving in to Iran at every point.

Dismayingly, these Obama retreads have returned to inflict the same disaster upon the world as they did before, but now with the stakes having risen even higher. It would seem that the Biden administration is desperate to have groundhog day all over again. It wants to continue to pretend, as the left always does, that lions don’t just lie down with lambs but really are lambs in disguise, if only those xenophobic, warmongering racists of the right would just give them a chance to demonstrate how sweet and woolly they really are.

And the warmongering, distinctly unwoolly fanatics of the Iranian regime aren’t even bothering to conceal their contempt. Indeed, they are deploying that contempt itself as a weapon. 

They have already upped the ante in the (undoubtedly well-founded) confidence that, with President Trump gone, America will once again obligingly offer the west’s throat for the regime to cut.

So the regime has arrested an American citizen in Iran. 

It has told the UN nuclear watchdog overseeing Iran's nuclear programme to avoid publicising “unnecessary details” about this programme. 

It conducted a drill last Saturday launching anti-warship ballistic missiles at a simulated target in the Indian Ocean.

It is demanding that the US return to the 2015 deal, in which it is refusing to change a single word, and demanding furthermore that the US pay it reparations for having abandoned the agreement.

The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed earlier this month that Iran had started the process to enrich uranium up to 20 per cent. Enrichment at this level is only a short, technical step away from weapons-grade levels of 90 per cent. 

Yesterday, Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, said that Iranian scientists at nuclear installations “are producing 20 grammes (of 20 per cent enriched uranium) every hour; meaning that practically, we are producing half a kilo every day”.

Thus Iran has already resumed blackmailing America while it ramps up its threats of nuclear aggression. All this is to tell America and the world that Tehran, not the White House, is now calling the shots.

It is thus humiliating Biden’s America in the eyes of the Middle East, signalling that the US is once again weak, on its knees and ripe for the taking — all because the regime has understood that’s exactly what, under the Democrats, America will now become.

All this follows months in which the regime has been ramping up its regional aggression. This has been blamed upon Trump withdrawing the US from the nuclear deal. On the contrary, as I wrote here last November, the regime anticipated Biden winning the US election and decided it was now diplomatic business as normal. That is to say, rogue states threaten, blackmail, take hostages and mount piratical or terrorist attacks, and in return America caves in.

To western liberals, concessions are the essence of “conflict resolution”. In the Middle East, they are seen as the equivalent of waving a white flag and act as the spur to a final aggressive push for victory. In the Middle East, perceived strength deters aggression; the smell of weakness brings about war.

Moreover, Iran had been violating both the spirit and the letter of the 2015 deal from the start. Honest Reporting has summarised these breaches. It writes:

Already in early 2016, Iran violated the spirit of the agreement by testing ballistic missiles capable of reaching Israel, marked with slogans calling for the destruction of the Jewish State. These tests would continue in the years to come, in defiance of the UN Security Council resolution endorsing the Iran Deal. 

… In the months and years that followed, more and more breaches of the nuclear deal came to light. For example, the second report by the IAEA after the implementation of the JCPOA noted that Iran was in possession of too much heavy water, which is used in nuclear reactors.

In July 2016, Germany’s domestic security agency published an incriminating report alleging that despite Iran’s promises, the Islamic Republic continued to acquire materials that could be used to develop illegal weaponry in secret. “This holds true in particular with regards to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology,” the report added.

A document leaked to The Associated Press that same month revealed more of Iran’s plans. According to a confidential annex to the JCPOA, Iran intended to replace its current centrifuges with more advanced ones as early as January 2027, allowing the regime to enrich at more than twice the rate it had been doing so far. This would have allowed Iran to build a nuclear bomb even before the end of the deal in 2030.

By November 2016, the IAEA reported that Iran was once again breaking the terms of the deal. In a classified document, the UN nuclear watchdog wrote that Tehran surpassed the agreed-upon threshold for heavy water for the second time. Less than a year after the regime vowed not to continue down the path of developing a nuclear weapon, numerous members of the international community voiced concerns that Iranian misdeeds were undermining the JCPOA.

By January 2020, even Europe’s “appeasement central”, France, Britain and Germany, had had enough and triggered the deal’s dispute mechanism to address widespread Iranian violations. That month, Israeli intelligence estimated that Iran would have enough material for a nuclear bomb within the year and the capability to build nuclear-armed missiles within two years.

Professor Efraim Inbar, president of the Jerusalem Institute for Strategy and Security, has written a paper detailing the threat posed by Iran to the Middle East and the west going far beyond its obsessive aim of wiping Israel off the map.  He writes: 

Iran’s nuclear program, coupled with long-range delivery systems, threatens…In further pushback towards the West, Tehran encourages radical Shiite elements in Iraq in order to force an American withdrawal. It also foments trouble via the Shiite communities in the Gulf states. Iran is further allied with Syria, a radical state with an anti-American predisposition. Moreover, Tehran lends critical support to terrorist organisations such as Hizballah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. According to the US State Department, Iran is the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Iranian successes would embolden Islamic radicals everywhere.

… A nuclear-armed Iran would also have a chain-effect, generating nuclear proliferation in the immediate region. Middle Eastern states, which invariably display high threat perceptions, are unlikely to look nonchalantly on a nuclear Iran. American extended deterrence, particularly these days, is not credible in the Middle East. Therefore, these states would not resist the temptation to counter Iranian influence by adopting similar nuclear postures.

 As a result of the sanctions screw turned by the Trump administration, the Iranian regime was getting into ever greater difficulties. Another four years of that could just have empowered the brave but isolated Iranian people and forced the regime out. Now the picture has been reversed. The Iranian regime once more has the wind in its sails, the Iranian people are being abandoned once again, and Israel faces a reprise of the nightmarish Obama years — defending itself against a genocidal regime while simultaneously dealing with a US administration determined upon a course of action that will empower it.  

Oh — one more thing. Last month, in the Washington Free Beacon, Adam Kredo revealed that a coalition of progressive foreign-policy groups was pressing Biden to appoint to a post overseeing Middle East affairs on the White House National Security Council an Iranian national accused of lobbying for the Islamist regime.

Trita Parsi, who in 2013 was identified as a dual Iranian-Swedish citizen with an American green card, was a co-founder of the National Iranian American Council. His Iran advocacy has sparked accusations that he and the NIAC were clandestinely lobbying on behalf of the Iranian regime. In a 2013 court case, the US District Court for the District of Columbia said his work was “not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime”. Kredo writes:

His potential selection for a top national-security post in the Biden administration has raised eyebrows among regional experts and former US officials… “I find it highly unlikely that the CIA would be able to approve of a security clearance for him given his many connections to designated terrorists and the Iranian regime,” said one former National Security Council official.

… This year, Parsi was caught parroting talking points first disseminated by senior Iranian officials, renewing questions about his ties to the country's leadership.

The fact that he’s even being touted for such a post is astonishing. As one Middle East expert has privately observed: 

Biden choosing Parsi would be like giving the Iranian government the keys to the White House.

Isn’t it wonderful to be putting the diplomacy-busting Trump years behind us and entering instead a glorious new era, when the United States will once again be conspicuously leading the desperate struggle to defend peace, freedom and justice against the forces of evil in the world and keep us all safe?  

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