“Fix It Or Nix It.”
Iran put on a good show. It is a good actor on the international stage of the ship of fools. It bamboozled its negotiation partners into believing that it was sincere in its proclamations and its alleged willingness to put its nuclear ambitions on hold. It got what it wanted – a deal signed in July, 2015, that totally serves Iran’s purposes. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the formal name for the nuclear agreement – “the agreement”) that was signed does not prevent Iran from upgrading its centrifuges and, among other things, it allows Iran to assert that any site within its borders is a military site and, therefore, is exempt from inspection. The agreement fails to restrict Iran from developing its missile program, which would be the “means” by which it would deliver any nuclear payload and it totally ignores – and therefore, allows – Iran to continue with its plans for Middle East hegemony.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been an ardent opponent of the agreement with Iran and has, on more than one occasion, said “Fix It or Nix It”. As slogans go, this is a nice one. But, neither fixing, nor nixing, the agreement, by itself, will stop Iran’s nuclear ambitions. As for “fixing” the agreement, that is not a practical solution for Iran, which made a “good deal” for itself. Therefore, it has no reason to agree to amend it. Serious, crippling economic sanctions were imposed on Iran and it only agreed to come to the nogotiating table because of the economic pressures that it was facing. Once the agreement was signed and the sanctions were removed, it immediately entered into various business deals with different countries and private companies. And while it smiled all the way to the bank – and friendlier relations with the European Union – it continued its pursuits to attain a nuclear weapon, which would enable it to join an exclusive club of nuclear-capable nations and, give it the freedom to say and do as it pleases. Lest we forget, when the agreement was signed, it was touted as a great success that was brought about by the joint efforts of many of America’s allies. Now, with the discovery that Iran lied from day one and that it negotiated the JCPOA in bad faith, the nations that praised it as the deal of the century now have a difficult time to admit that they were wrong. The ugly pride of politics This is where skill in diplomacy enters the picture.
If “fixing” the deal were to be a realistic option, it would serve Iran’s interests even further. Iran could agree to re-negotiate and drag out those negotiations for an extended period of time, possibly even years, that would bring it close to the 10-year breakout period, that would free it of all obligations. And, with Russia and China involved in the renewed negotiations, the matter can be delayed time and time again, even as it was during the original negotiations and make a farce of any attempt at agreeing to any revisions.
So, then, if “fixing” the deal is not really practical or reasonably workable, that leaves us with the second part of the “either/or” situation, namely: “nixing” the deal, accompanied by strong, economic sanctions imposed by the international community … and enforced!. Enter President Trump, who tonight (9 p.m., Israel time – 2 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in the U.S.) withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 nuclear agreement and said that it would reimpose “powerful”, economic sanctions. If other countries will continue to deal with Iran, they, too, might be subject to sanctions.
Clearly, “nixing” the JCPOA is an encouragement to its critics, not the least of which is Prime Minister Netanyahu, whose status has increased before the international community, as the leader of the opposition to this disastrous agreement, and as the one who, in a very real sense, was the prime mover behind the U.S. deciding to withdraw from the agreement. It also served to present President Trump as someone who does what he says he will do, a fact that he clearly emphasized.
How does this decision impact Iran? Despite Trump’s announcement, Iran will not kowtow and easily abandon its nuclear ambitions, nor its nuclear program. In order for it to pursue its desire to gain hegemony over the Middle East, it must reject outright the action of the U.S. It must act in defiance of Trump’s announcement and accuse the U.S. of acting illegally, among other things that it will come up with. It must make every effort not to “lose face”, particularly in the eyes of the countries of the Middle East. The imposition of economic sanctions, even severe economic sanctions by the U.S. alone, will not immediately bring Iran to its knees. This will take time, which works in favor of Iran. The U.S. will need the support of other nations to make the sanctions effective. This, too, will take time. The only way for Iran to be stopped in its tracks is for it to realize that it is in a genuine and serious danger of a coordinated military strike against it. Only then will it sit up and think through the consequences of being on the wrong side of military attacks.
Iran has threatened that there will be consequences if the U.S. pulls out of the agreement. In this regard, it must be remembered that Israel and the U.S. are strong allies and have a common position with regard to the nuclear deal. Also to be remembered in this entire scenario is Iran’s threats to retaliate against Israel for the attacks on its bases in Syria during the last few months and, particularly, the one on April 9th, which killed Iranian advisers and members of the Revolutionary Guards. The Israeli military is on “high alert” and is prepared for an Iranian missile attack from Syria and Lebanon. It also has a dozen warships in the Mediterranean, along the northern coast of Israel, as well as tanks in some northern cities. In addition to a potential rocket and missile threat, there is concern about the possibility of attempted physical infiltration. While writing this post, I received an alert that the IDF instructed communities in the area of the Golan Heights to open up public bomb shelters, even as F-16s are flying overhead and are circling in the skies over the Syrian portion of the Golan. The IDF also called up some members of the reserves.
The big questions now are: Where do we go from here? What is Plan B, or Plan C, who will participate in it and how long will it take to put it into place? And now, the political pundits are preparing to prophesy.
“Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10)
“Do not fear them, for the LORD your God is the one fighting for you.” (Deuteronomy 3:22)
Keep looking up!
Bless, be blessed and be a blessing.