Updated: May 16, 2021
Five world powers met in Vienna Tuesday and took the first steps in a complicated dance of diplomacy to get the United States back into the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and vowed that Israel would “always defend ourselves.”
Representatives from the US and from Iran are attending the talks, but neither side is willing to comply with the other’s demands to meet face to face. Iran wants the United States to immediately lift the crippling economic sanctions reimposed since 2018, which would release an estimated $1 billion in funds blocked in other countries. The US wants Iran to fall back to compliance levels, despite having enriched uranium well past the prescribed limits in the deal.
You do not reward someone for bad behavior. The sanctions have crippled the economy of Iran, and yet, they still flood the rebels in Yemen, terrorists in Lebanon and the dictator of Syria with funds, taken from the Iranian people. Maybe believe that the sanctions will eventually lead to a much-needed revolution in Iran.
“Once you’ve gone back to the JCPOA (Iran nuclear deal), you have lifted most of the significant economic sanctions. Therefore, you have eliminated most of your leverage to get Iran to agree to these additional things,” says Elliot Abrams, former foreign policy advisor to Presidents Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush and Donald Trump. “There are billions of dollars sitting in banks in Iraq and China and South Korea … that Iran cannot get its hands on due to the sanctions.”
If Biden releases those funds, he can be sure they will go to support terrorism all over the Middle East.
China, the UK, France, Germany, and Russia, the remaining parties in the agreement, have struggled to save the deal after the US withdrawal. Former President Donald Trump left the agreement in 2018. President Joe Biden has already signaled he is ready to reengage with Iran and reenter the landmark deal that was supposed to make sure the country did not develop a nuclear military program.
Prime Minister Netanyahu said in response to the talks resuming, “The danger that Iran will return – and this time with an international imprimatur – to a path that will allow it to develop a nuclear arsenal is on our doorstep on this very day.”
Awareness of the threat to Israel’s existence is particularly heightened, as the Vienna talks come as Israel begins Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“We must act against the fanatical regime in Iran that is simply threatening to erase us from the earth…We will always know to defend ourselves by ourselves from those who seek to kill us,” Netanyahu warned.