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July 7, 2016

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

Animated Video Enacts Killing of Knesset Member Yehuda Glick by Palestinian Terrorists

Following the spate of gruesome Palestinians terror attacks which took the lives of Hallel Ariel and Rabbi Miki Mark (whose killing was glorified on Arabic-language social media), a video has surfaced on social media calling for the killing of Israeli Knesset Member and Temple Mount activist Yehuda Glick. Glick, like the late Rabbi Mark, lives in the settlement of Otniel. He is best known for surviving a Palestinian assassination attempt in October 2014 in reaction to advocating that Jews be allowed to visit the Temple Mount.

The two-minute long animated video shows Palestinian terrorists infiltrating the settlement of Otniel, and shooting Glick to death outside his home. It ends with a voiceover in broken Hebrew saying “Jews are forever forbidden from entering Al-Aqsa Mosque. One who violates this should come with Jewish burial shrouds (“Tachrichim”), for his fate is that of Yehuda Glick, only this time we kill.”

Glick

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July 6, 2016

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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