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Is Joe Biden really going to do this?

Given Russia, you'd think the US would stop another immoral regime from gaining international legitimacy, lots of money, and nuclear weapons. Cue Iran
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves the Palais Coburg, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting that aims at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 27, 2021. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)
Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani leaves the Palais Coburg, venue of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) meeting that aims at reviving the Iran nuclear deal, in Vienna on December 27, 2021. (ALEX HALADA / AFP)

Are you really going to do this, Mr. Biden?

Russia is intensifying its deliberate massacre of innocent Ukrainians. Anthony Blinken, the US Secretary of State accused Russia on Thursday of killing “hundreds if not thousands of civilians,” and targeting buildings of no conceivable military value.

The West has mobilized economic sanctions, arms transfers, and humanitarian aid beyond all expectations. Yet despite Ukraine’s urgent pleas, they have recoiled from direct military involvement that could slow the slaughter, for one good reason: Western armed intervention against Russia could spark a nuclear conflagration.

This is not the time for a full recounting of the two decades of appeasement, supine inaction against Russian aggression in Georgia, Syria, and the Crimea, and Western economic coddling of Putin and the Russian elites, that brought the world to this awful point. Yet the outlines of the sorry story are well known.

You would hope then, that Mr. Blinken and the president he serves would think hard before empowering another rogue regime devoid of any moral restraints with international legitimacy, lots of money, and nuclear weapons.

A disturbing Twitter thread published last night by former State Department official Gabriel Noronha, suggests otherwise (h/t Melanie Phillips). Mr. Noronha, (who, by the way, was fired by Donald Trump on January 7, 2021, for accusing Trump of fomenting insurrection against Congress) begins as follows (he numbered his tweets in the long thread):

  1. My former career @StateDept, NSC, and EU colleagues are so concerned with the concessions being made by @RobMalley in Vienna that they’ve allowed me to publish some details of the coming deal in the hopes that Congress will act to stop the capitulation.
  2. “What’s happening in Vienna is a total disaster” one warned. The entire negotiations have been filtered and “essentially run” by Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov. The concessions and other misguided policies have led three members of the U.S. negotiating team to leave.

Yes, that’s the same Russia, which is pulverizing a neighboring democracy.

The rest of the thread details some of the astounding concessions in the agreement, which, Noronha’s sources say, may be finalized as soon as Monday. These including the lifting of sanctions against virtually all Iranian bodies, including the Revolutionary Guards, who foment murder and mayhem across the Middle East, the immediate unfreezing of $7 billion of Iranian assets in South Korea, to be rapidly followed by $90 billion in foreign exchange reserves. For all these concessions, Noronha continues in his Twitter thread, and writes:

  1. …we haven’t gotten anything at all from the Iranians. The JCPOA’s sunsets have not been extended at all. Some restrictions, like the UN arms embargo, have already expired. All the meaningful restrictions will expire in the next 9 years.
  1. Iran won’t make any concessions on its ballistic missile activity, its terrorist activity and support for proxy groups, or taking further hostages from the United States and other countries. But it will get money anyways – lots and lots of money.”

More tweets in the thread have Norona warning:

  1. The Biden administration is claiming that they are going back to the JCPOA [the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran] and therefore do not need to submit the deal to Congress under the 2015 INARA law. That’s not true — this deal is not the JCPOA. It is much, much worse.
  2. The degree of capitulation happening here is staggering —especially for people like me who worked in the technical trenches of this stuff for years. That’s why these non-partisan career staffers are coming out the woodwork and desperately asking for oversight from Congress.”

If this is correct, (and I have not seen it disputed,) Iran, which has spread murder and mayhem across the Middle East for decades and mobilized its Revolutionary Guards to help Assad slaughter half a million Syrians, is about to be empowered with tens of billions of dollars, international legitimacy and the removal of obstacles to making nuclear weapons.

With the world transfixed by Ukraine, will Congress or anyone else raise an outcry? Yet precisely now, the Ukraine disaster should be a graphic, real-time warning to the world of what an Iran empowered with huge sums of money and a nuclear umbrella would do to its neighbors.

It is hard to look beyond the horror of Ukraine. But how can one not speak up when the next geopolitical catastrophe is, God forbid, emerging in plain sight?

Yedidya Sinclair’s new book, The Sabbath of the Land is published by Maggid Books.

About the Author
Yedidya Julian Sinclair works in the Israeli clean tech world. Before moving to Israel he was as an economist in the UK government. In his spare time he is a writer,translator, urban tour guide and teaches Jewish texts and sources. He holds semicha, degrees from Oxford and Harvard and lives in Jerusalem with his wife and five children.
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