Israel Defense Minister Benny Gantz was in Washington last weekend to brief think tank directors on Israel’s objections to the latest draft of a potential deal between the United States and Iran on Iran’s nuclear program. His argument was simple: Iran’s nuclear know-how and infrastructure are irreversible. And if existing centrifuges are stored rather than destroyed as part of a new deal, they will be available to enrich uranium once the proposed agreement expires in 2031 — or immediately, if Iran chooses to do so.
Beyond that, no one has explained why there is any reason to believe that Tehran will be any more compliant with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations and investigators in 2022 than it was under the 2015 version of the deal. Of course, that concern may be irrelevant, since multiple sources maintain that Iran’s enrichment capabilities have advanced to the point where it could produce a nuclear bomb within a matter of weeks, if it wants to.
But even if those reports are incorrect, and Iran needs a lot more work before being ready to produce and deploy a nuclear weapon, is it reasonable for the U.S. to trust Iran to comply with the terms of any new deal? This is, after all, the same regime that harbors and promotes the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the terror mongers who, according to the Justice Department, offered a $300,000 reward for the killing of former Trump national security adviser John Bolton and a second reward for killing former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Are these the honorable people the U.S. government should trust?
We’re skeptical. Nonetheless, even if there is good reason to believe that Iran will comply with inspection and assessment measures of IAEA, and a genuine belief that Iran will abide fully by restrictions regarding further nuclear development, we still don’t understand what sense it makes to lift Western sanctions and free up the regime’s access to more than $100 billion in frozen assets. Were that to happen, Iran would have even more resources to do all of the things we want the country to stop doing — including further pursuit of its nuclear ambitions, funding for the international terror activities of IRGC and even more support and encouragement for Hezbollah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which are poised to send deadly rockets into Israel and would like nothing more than to upend the spreading sense of acceptance of Israel as a legitimate partner in both the Middle East and, more broadly, around the world.
And finally, what would the U.S. get in return for entering into a new Iran deal? Simply correcting a perceived mistake by the Trump administration in an effort to vindicate a flawed deal of the Obama administration doesn’t justify the move. We therefore encourage the Biden administration to abandon efforts to re-create a 7-year-old deal that is outdated, and focus on charting a new course that is reflective of today’s realities and responsive to today’s concerns.