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July 7, 2016 2

The Iran Nuclear Deal: One Year Later

By Jonathan Green­blatt
CEO of the Anti-Defamation League

This blog orig­i­nally appeared on Medium

As we approach the first anniver­sary of the Joint Com­pre­hen­sive Plan of Action (JCPOA) it is an appro­pri­ate time to reassess the mer­its of the deal. ADL was among the nuclear deal’s crit­ics.

Beyond the nuclear restraints it would impose on Iran, our con­cern it is that it would nor­mal­ize an expan­sion­ist, mil­i­tant regime whose unre­pen­tant and fun­da­men­tal­ist ide­ol­ogy was not tamed by the deal.

Unlike pre­vi­ous major arms con­trol treaties in our country’s past that sig­naled a strate­gic turn in rela­tion with his­toric adver­saries, the Iran nuclear deal promised no such realign­ment. That is why we felt the sun­set of the JCPOA’s most impor­tant con­straints posed such a trou­bling prob­lem. That is ulti­mately why we could not abide by it.

Iran Deal-condensed

Dur­ing the past year, Iran has taken key steps out­lined in the JCPOA to limit its nuclear pro­gram, includ­ing ship­ping the vast major­ity of its enriched ura­nium out of the coun­try and dis­man­tling cen­trifuges. In this sense, the Admin­is­tra­tion has deliv­ered on its imme­di­ate term objec­tives of sig­nif­i­cantly length­en­ing the break­out time for Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon. Fur­ther­more, the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity suc­cess­fully has imple­mented a far reach­ing ver­i­fi­ca­tion sys­tem across the entire sup­ply chain of the pro­duc­tion of ura­nium, mak­ing it far less likely for Iran to suc­cess­fully main­tain a covert ura­nium enrich­ment capac­ity. Indeed, as retired Israeli gen­eral and for­mer direc­tor of Mil­i­tary Intel­li­gence, Amos Yadlin has pointed out, if Iran remains fully com­pli­ant with the terms of the JCPOA, the deal will sig­nif­i­cantly reduce the imme­di­ate threat of a nuclear con­flict in the Mid­dle East.

Any rea­son­able observers must acknowl­edge this impor­tant reduc­tion of nuclear risk in the short term. How­ever, it would be fool­ish not to con­sider the wider effects of the JCPOA in the region — as well the chal­lenges the deal will present over the long term. Iran reached an accom­mo­da­tion with the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity due to the tremen­dous eco­nomic dam­age it suf­fered under the unprece­dented sanc­tions regime. Together with the pre­cip­i­tous drop in oil prices, the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran essen­tially made a deal to post­pone its nuclear options for 10–15 years.

But even before Iran is — under the terms of the deal — allowed to engage in research and devel­op­ment on advanced cen­trifuges, we can eval­u­ate its behav­ior to deter­mine whether early com­pli­ance was a good mea­sure of the long term effec­tive­ness of the JCPOA in terms of help­ing to facil­i­tate Iran’s reen­try into the com­mu­nity of nations. The­o­ret­i­cally there is much we can learn by look­ing at the early warn­ing signs rather than wait­ing for a decade to deter­mine progress. Indeed, in that time­frame, when sanc­tions are only a dis­tant mem­ory and with busi­ness and for­eign invest­ment likely flow­ing, a regime still com­mit­ted to hos­til­ity could try to vio­late aspects of the agree­ment, test­ing the inter­na­tional com­mu­ni­ties’ will­ing­ness to enforce its pro­vi­sions. Per­haps at first, these vio­la­tions will not be egre­gious. But, slowly, an unre­pen­tant Iran is likely to test the lim­its of enforcement.

So is Iran nor­mal­iz­ing? Does the JCPOA her­ald a new era in its rela­tions with the West? The early signs are not encouraging.

“Today the most impor­tant point for the Islamic world is unity against Israel and who­ever breaks this unity would be a trai­tor. Peo­ple of Iran never aban­don their goal. I hope that a third intifada will lead to the destruc­tion of Israel.”

— Grand Aya­tol­lah Hos­sein Nouri Hamadani

Iran’s con­tin­ued devel­op­ment of bal­lis­tic mis­siles while not included in the terms of the JCPOA, con­tin­ues in clear vio­la­tion of exist­ing UN Secu­rity Coun­cil Res­o­lu­tions. So far it has faced few consequences.

It main­tains the unen­vi­able title of the “fore­most state spon­sor of ter­ror­ism” in the world.

As man­i­fested in recent Quds Day demon­stra­tions, its con­tin­ued geno­ci­dal rant­i­ngs toward Israel — includ­ing threats by Iran’s Supreme Leader that “God will­ing, there will be no such thing as a Zion­ist regime in 25 years. Until then, strug­gling, heroic and jihadi morale will leave no moment of seren­ity for Zion­ists,” — are far out­side the pale, indica­tive of its role as lead­ing fomenter of regional instability.

Indeed, in the eyes of its neigh­bors, the Iran­ian threat has grown, not dimin­ished since the deal was signed. More trou­bling is that few coun­tries have con­fi­dence that Iran­ian expan­sion­ism will be con­tained by reli­able Amer­i­can lead­er­ship are low. Reports indi­cate that it is increas­ing its fund­ing for the Lebanese ter­ror mili­tia Hezbol­lah whose leader recently admit­ted that for his group, “its bud­get, its income, its expenses, every­thing it eats and drinks, its weapons and rock­ets, come from the Islamic Repub­lic of Iran.”

Beyond Lebanon, Iran works to spread its rev­o­lu­tion­ary ide­ol­ogy in order to desta­bi­lize other coun­tries through­out the region includ­ing IraqBahrain,Yemen and oth­ers. The noted Syrian-Palestinian activist Kassem Eid pub­licly described the Islamic Repub­lic as “a reli­gious dic­ta­tor­ship, the Shia face of ISIS” that “uses its resources to estab­lish a sec­tar­ian empire across the Islamic world.”

Iran’s record on human rights at home is deplorable. Dr. Ahmed Sha­heed, UN spe­cial rap­por­teur for human rights in Iran, recently reported that there “is an alarm­ing surge in the rate of unlaw­ful exe­cu­tions in the coun­try, and ongo­ing arbi­trary arrests, deten­tions and pros­e­cu­tions of indi­vid­ual for the exer­cise of their fun­da­men­tal rights.” Eth­nic and reli­gious minori­ties includ­ing Baha’i,Chris­tians, and Sunni Mus­lims con­tinue to suf­fer the cruel whims of the regime. Sim­i­lar sorry fate is what is faced by juve­niles and jour­nal­ists tar­geted by the regime.

One year after it signed the sup­pos­edly his­toric agree­ment with the United States and its part­ners in the P5+1, the Islamic Repub­lic remains the lead­ing exporter of deadly con­spir­acy the­o­ries and hos­tile pro­pa­ganda against the Jew­ish peo­ple and the Jew­ish state. In recent months we have seen a revival of their noto­ri­ous Holo­caust car­toon con­test, which encour­ages Holo­caust revi­sion­ism and out­right denial. The regime is a font of global anti-Semitism. Wild accu­sa­tions of Zion­ist plots abound, such as blam­ing imports of genet­i­cally mod­i­fied prod­ucts to infect Ira­ni­ans with dis­eases on the Zion­istsor accus­ing “Jew­ish actors” of con­spir­ing Saudis to spread Wah­habism. In the last few days when the rest of the world has mourned the loss of noted peace activist Elie Weisel, Iran opted to slan­der the Nobel Lau­re­ate as a “crim­i­nal Zion­ist and fake wit­ness of Holocaust.”

And while the lift­ing of sanc­tions was the trade-off in the deal, it is still trou­bling to see the Islamic Repub­lic land large con­tracts with ven­er­ated West­ern firms, such as Boeing’s $25 bil­lion deal with Iran to build up its air fleet. Not only might some of the planes be used for Iran­ian mil­i­tary activ­i­ties, this sends an unam­bigu­ous mes­sage that Iran has become a fully-accepted mem­ber of the inter­na­tional com­mu­nity, a viable part­ner for busi­ness, with­out chang­ing its extrem­ist course.

All of these signs speak to a real­ity that Iran remains a bel­liger­ent actor whose norms and rhetoric do not line up with those of other nations, save per­haps North Korea. Despite the early ben­e­fits of the JCPOA, the regime appears more inter­ested in hos­til­ity than nor­malcy. It is clear, given its regional behav­ior, that Iran does not suf­fi­ciently fear con­se­quences for its actions. In short, it is unde­terred. This is all the more alarm­ing because as the robust­ness of the pro­vi­sions restrict­ing Iran’s nuclear ambi­tions wane towards the end of the life of the deal, cred­i­ble deter­rence will be the only force keep­ing it from cross­ing the hair-thin thresh­old to nuclear weapons.

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July 6, 2016 0

In Marking Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, Senior Iranian Officials Call For Israel’s Destruction

As the Iran­ian gov­ern­ment com­mem­o­rated Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day on Fri­day, July 1st, which included the usual protests involv­ing the burn­ing of US and Israeli flags, some senior Iran­ian reli­gious lead­ers and gov­ern­ment offi­cials expressed their desire to see Israel’s destruc­tion. These pro­nounce­ments, some of which echoed prior com­ments made by Iran­ian Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khamenei, included:

  • “Today the most impor­tant point for the Islamic world is unity against Israel and who­ever breaks this unity would be a trai­tor. Peo­ple of Iran never aban­don their goal. I hope that a third intifada will lead to the destruc­tion of Israel.” - Grand Aya­tol­lah Hos­sein Nouri Hamadani 
    Iran
  • “As the Supreme leader said: In 25 years we will be the wit­ness of the destruc­tion of Zion­ist regime.” — Com­man­der of the Iran­ian Army’s Ground Force Brigadier Gen­eral Ahmadreza Pourdastan
  • “We are get­ting close to col­lapse and destruc­tion of the Zion­ist regime. This regime is mak­ing all its effort to sup­port the ter­ror­ism and elim­i­na­tion of Mus­lims.” - Hos­sein Taeb, Iran­ian Shia Mus­lim cleric and cur­rent head of the Intel­li­gence Orga­ni­za­tion of Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution

The Al-Quds Day cel­e­bra­tions also fea­tured Iran­ian government-sponsored demon­stra­tions with harsh anti-Israel expres­sions, and anti-Semitic and anti-Israel car­toons were pub­lished in Iran­ian media outlets.

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July 1, 2016 2

Iranian Commemoration of Al-Quds Day Includes Anti-Semitic and Harsh Anti-Israel Expressions

Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day, which takes place on the last Fri­day of Ramadan, was ini­ti­ated in 1979 by Aya­tol­lah Khome­ini, leader of the Islamic rev­o­lu­tion in Iran, as a show of sol­i­dar­ity with the Pales­tini­ans and to assert the Islamic claim over Jerusalem. While events are held around the world, in Iran, it is often marked by a hate­ful demon­stra­tion of anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sen­ti­ment, man­i­fest in gov­ern­ment orga­nized ral­lies and other activ­i­ties. Before this years’ Al Quds day (July 1), Iran’s lead­er­ship ral­lied the coun­try.  Supreme Leader Aya­tol­lah Khamenei called its com­mem­o­ra­tion and sup­port for the oppressed Pales­tini­ans an impor­tant reli­gious duty.

The Islamic Prop­a­ga­tion Coor­di­na­tion Coun­cil in a state­ment called for wide­spread par­tic­i­pa­tion in Quds Day demon­stra­tions and asked them to repeat the same slo­gans “Death to Amer­ica, Death to Israel and Death to inter­na­tional Zion­ism and Impe­ri­al­ism.” It was reported that in one Quds Day demon­stra­tion, plac­ards were held up which called for Israel’s destruc­tion by the year 2040, and peo­ple chant­ing “Death to Amer­ica” threw stones at a mock Statue of Lib­erty. In advance of Al Quds day, Iran’s Fars news agency pub­lished a wave of harsh anti-Semitic and anti-Israel car­toons, some with clas­si­cal anti-Semitic themes, such as Jew­ish world dom­i­na­tion, depict­ing the world under the con­trol of a Jewish/Israeli octo­pus, worm or spider:

Oth­ers are of a more anti-Israel nature, yet sim­i­larly con­spir­a­to­r­ial in that they imply Israel is a part of a broader, if not global, U.S. plot. One depicts Israel as a dog oper­ated by the U.S. against Gaza, while another shows the U.S. and an Arab fig­ure – most prob­a­bly rep­re­sent­ing the Saudi royal fam­ily who are bit­ter rivals of the Islamic Repub­lic – form­ing together a Star of David, as though they are work­ing in the ser­vice of Israel and the Jews.

Other car­toons depict an Israel on the verge of destruc­tion.  One depicts an Israeli fig­ure run­ning away just before a dam with a Star of David col­lapses, as a result of a mass of peo­ple, with the cap­tion “Death to Israel”. Another car­toon shows an Israeli sol­dier drown­ing in blood rep­re­sented by the red part of the Pales­tin­ian flag.

Other car­toons demo­nize Israel by deform­ing the appear­ances of an Israeli sol­dier shown with satanic ears and with teeth shaped like nuclear mis­siles, while another of for­mer Israeli pres­i­dent Shi­mon Peres depicts him as a demonic figure.

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