Iran, Russia, and a Potentially Disastrous New US-Negotiated Nuclear Deal » J-Wire
April 1, 2022 by J-Wire News Service
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Dr. Jonathan Schanzer, senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and former terrorism finance analyst at the US Department of the Treasury, spoke at the latest Australian/Israeli Council and Jewish Affairs webinar (AIJAC), where his topic was “Iran, Russia, and a Potentially Disastrous New US-brokered Nuclear Deal”.
He began by discussing Israel’s situation vis-à-vis Russia, noting that Israel faces challenges as it tries to aid efforts against Russian leader Vladimir Putin while defending its own interests, which likens it to walking a tightrope.
While some, including Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, urge Israel to take sides, Schanzer observed that Israel urgently needs to operate in Syria, and Putin holds the key there and has deployed deadly S400 anti-aircraft systems. Israel must prevent Iran from smuggling precision-guided missiles (PGMs) through Syria to Hezbollah in Lebanon. PGMs pose a threat second only to nuclear weapons, he said, being very accurate and capable of evading Israel’s missile defense systems, so Israel regularly targets these deliveries and therefore needs a constant deconfliction with Putin.
Even so, he added, Israeli pilots do not feel safe over Syria and take all kinds of evasive action because it is “enemy territory controlled by a power with which they are not quite comfortable”. Israel joined in the UN vote to condemn the Russian invasion and feared it would anger Putin.
He noted that Israel has delivered its largest aid package ever, and that a field hospital in Ukraine is preparing to receive Ukrainian refugees and, more importantly, has embarked on a direct mediation, with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett being the only one who can speak directly to the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, the United States and Germany.
Israel, he said, will not sanction Russia for fear that Putin will block access to Syrian airspace, after declaring the sanctions amounted to war. Israel also cannot legally sanction countries that are not openly belligerent to it without a UN Security Council resolution and is concerned about Russia’s large Jewish community, which is being forced to support the war.
He noted that it is impractical to ask Israel to provide Iron Dome missile defense batteries to Ukraine, since Israel needs all of its Iron Dome batteries for its own defense, although the United States have one in Guam, and even if Israel provided one, it would require a significant amount of training before it could be used.
Remarkably, he said, the United States still has not found a way to extricate Israel from the predicament it unwittingly put Israel in nine years ago when it allowed Russia into Syria. He added that this “puts enormous pressure on the Israelis because they are really on the side of the West, they are on the side of Ukraine, they just cannot express it in the way that some of the other countries which are… not retained. a barrel like the Israelis are right now by Vladimir Putin.
Turning to the Iran nuclear deal being renegotiated in Vienna, he said it was a “train wreck” for Israel, with US envoy Rob Malley making “one concession after another “. The original 2015 deal netted the Iranian regime about $150 billion, there was an arms embargo that has already expired and another on ballistic missiles that ends next year, as well as clauses on extinction on nuclear restrictions. Now Iran is asking the US to delist Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, “which actually sponsors just about every major terrorist group in the Middle East”, as a group terrorist – but an outcry from Republicans and Democrats means the US could opt out of this. .
He added that Iran is also calling for the closure of four IAEA investigations into Iran, including one on the processing of uranium metal – a key part of a nuclear warhead – and the lifting of sanctions on this. which is essentially a slush fund for the Supreme Leader. Iran will gain $130-140 billion in sanctions relief and could also receive an inherent guarantee that if the US pulls out of the deal, Iran can enrich uranium to 60% and install advanced centrifuges on a large scale, in a few weeks. of a nuclear escape.
He explained that this was actually a Russian-brokered deal, and that Russia would receive spent nuclear fuel from Iran and maintain its nuclear facilities, charging billions of dollars for it, at a moment when Russia “waves its nuclear saber”. He added: “So here you have a guy who is recklessly using his ability to fire nukes in a conflict that he started, in which he is the aggressor… and right now he is being asked to be maybe- be the responsible party that would do so. to be truly the only country to stand between the Iranian regime and its nuclear program.
He said Israel must continue to operate in Syria and must keep its head down when it comes to Ukraine. We are likely to see the war between wars escalate, with Israel attacking Iran in Syria, Iran itself and in cyberspace, while if a deal is struck Israel will have some very difficult choices to make. The question is whether the IDF considers itself ready to take drastic military or cyber measures against the Iranian program. He will likely continue to conduct smaller-scale operations and hopes US leadership will change.
He said it was not an issue that the United States was negotiating, just that it was giving in, adding “it’s a recipe for war”. The United States should instead reduce its financial support for the Iranian regime and do more to cultivate its alliances in the region, given the number of countries outraged by its conduct, he urged.
Iran, he said, is teaching Russia how to circumvent sanctions against it, having years of experience doing so, including through narcotics trafficking and corruption from other countries.
If Iran acquires nuclear weapons capabilities, Schanzer said he expects a cascade of other countries in the region to seek the same, many with unstable regimes that could be toppled, potentially by Islamists. Iran may not actually use nuclear weapons, but keep them as the ultimate insurance policy, like Putin does.
He said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a test for the United States and now signaled to other revisionist regimes that the United States was not maintaining the world order as it once did, which explains, among other things, China’s agreement for a naval base in the Solomon Islands. One solution is for the United States and its allies to mount a more meaningful response. The problems will really start if Putin takes a liking to conquest and if China feels its ambitions attainable. The United States must form alliances that will stand up to the aggressors or “it could be a signal to the bullies of the world that it’s open season.”
He said US Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s current visit to the Middle East aims to calm the nerves of US allies and reassure them that the US is in control of the situation in Iran, and to call on allies Americans to release more oil and gas.
He says the Arab world is trying to bring Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad in from the cold to try to wean him off Iran, but isn’t sure it will work. Although Assad grows weary of Iran and the havoc it is causing in his country and wishes to rebuild Syria and restore relations with Arab countries, he is nonetheless a war criminal who has killed hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens. Schanzer added that the only way for Syria to move forward is with new leadership.
Schanzner expressed skepticism of Turkey’s apparent attempts to warm relations with Israel, noting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s past pattern of hostility towards him, and noting that his motivation is that he thinks Israel can to help break out of isolation now that his conduct has caused his country to ‘fall apart’. and without friends.