Iran Hawks in the US Like John Bolton Have No Viable Alternative to Rejoining the JCPOA
The Biden administration is in the final stages of negotiating a deal with Iran to revive the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action [JCPOA] and offer sanctions relief if Tehran agrees to halt enrichment activities and allows renewed oversight of all their nuclear facilities. Former President Donald Trump withdrew from the agreement despite Iran's compliance.
Trump's decision to withdraw from the JCPOA was widely panned because he had no effective plan to stop Iran from renewing its efforts to build a nuclear weapon. Trump reinstituted sanctions, and, predictably, Iran ramped up their nuclear enrichment program and bypassed sanctions by building closer relations with Russia, China, and India. China is now buying more Iranian oil than it did before sanctions were imposed.
Negotiations with Tehran are now at a critical stage and last week Iran dropped a key sticking point that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps be removed from the State Department’s list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. But as a deal appears imminent, opposition from Israel and conservatives in the US grows louder. Iran hawks like GOP Sens Tom Cotton and Ted Cruz, and Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, have harshly criticized the impending deal and the recent attack on prize-winning author Salman Rushdie is also complicating the politics of finalizing an agreement.
However, like Trump, those that oppose a deal with Tehran still won't put forward a viable Plan B.
Newsweek: "Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, State Department spokesperson Ned Price called the JCPOA the "best alternative to the status quo and certainly to the specter of an Iranian nuclear weapon." He said there was "an open invitation for anyone who thinks that there is a better approach to offer," but none had answered."
Bolton and his fellow Iran hawks continue to argue that severe sanctions will eventually lead to an uprising in Iran and regime change, but there are no signs that their dreams of a revolution are anything more than wishful thinking.
Moreover, Iran is close to having enough enriched uranium to build a bomb. They still have some technical issues to sort out, but they could construct a workable device within a year or two. So, if there is no agreement in the near future, the United States and Israel will have to consider their "last resort," an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. Such an attack wouldn't halt Iran's program, although it would delay it a bit. But it would also unleash a firestorm in the Middle East, drive up energy prices, and end any hope of a negotiated settlement. Iran would move their nuclear program deeper underground, ramp up its terrorist activities in Iraq and Syria, and attack oil tankers and facilities in and around the Persian Gulf.
To be clear, reviving the JCPOA is not a perfect outcome, but it's the only viable option at this point. It kicks the can down the road to 2030 and allows us a bit of breathing room to find longer-term solutions. And, in a candid moment, even many Israeli military experts agree that it's the best alternative right now.
Axios: "Although the Israeli government’s official position is to oppose a U.S. return to the 2015 nuclear deal, several current and former senior defense and intelligence officials think differently."
"The current head of Israeli military intelligence, Gen. Aharon Haliva, told the security cabinet several times in recent months that a return to the 2015 nuclear deal will serve Israel’s interests."
"Defense Minister Benny Gantz also said in private that the current limbo with Iran is worse than a return to the deal."
"Former head of military intelligence, retired Gen. Tamir Hayman, wrote on Twitter Friday that the deal being discussed is bad, but still necessary in order to roll back Iran's nuclear program and leave time to prepare a military option."
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By: Don Lam & Curated Content