By Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Reviewed by James L. Abrahamson, contributing editor
Writing for a major British newspaper, The Telegraph, Mark Dubowitz—an expert on sanctions—warns the U.S. administration not to pursue a nuclear agreement with Iran so eagerly that it blinds itself to Tehran’s tactics. The president, he claims, “does not like to back his diplomacy with military force.” His preference is “diplomacy, sanctions, more diplomacy, perhaps more sanctions,” and only then “the possibility of force.” At present, “financial warfare has become the [American] weapon of choice against Iran’s Supreme Leader.”
American optimism about an agreement with Iran will consequently rest on a “complicated technical compromise that will likely permit Iran to retain essential elements of its military-nuclear infrastructure.” With the possibility of force pushed aside, “disclose and dismantle” has given way to “defer and deter,” which means the U.S. will likely “punt” rather than insist on resolving the tougher issues—“disclosure on past nuclear weaponisation”—and instead rely on weapons inspectors to prevent Iran’s progress on building a nuclear bomb.
For various reasons, that approach is causing many U.S. negotiating partners to back away: From past experience with Iran, the French certainly; responding to U.S. sanctions on Putin cronies, the Russians as well; seeking to do more business with Iran, also the Germans and Chinese. Even the UK is tacking to the left because of the president’s apparent intention to take force off the table and accept a weak agreement with Iran, which might also leave the table if the U.S. Senate mandates the possibility of more severe sanctions on Iran.
Juan Zarate, a former treasury official warned, being “single-mindedly fixated on getting a deal at all costs,” may cause the American president to reduce too quickly “critical financial leverage without understanding that it can be impossible to put the genie fully back into the bottle, once sanctions-induced pressure is relieved.”