The 2015 Iran nuclear deal may or may not succeed at stopping an expansionist, West-hating Tehran government from developing atomic weapons — it’s far too early to know — but so far the agreement has done nothing to make Iran friendlier to the United States or Israel.
Defenders of the nuclear deal have correctly argued that it was never intended to resolve all disputes with Iran and restore it to a position as a responsible, respectable member of the world community. The flip side of that acknowledgment, however, is that Iran remains subject to sanctions and other punishment for its non-nuclear bad deeds, such as its continued testing of ballistic missiles in a program that could produce a delivery system for nuclear, chemical or biological warheads.
Technically, Iran’s test-firing of a missile Sunday, Jan. 29, didn’t violate the U.N. Security Council resolution that enacted the nuclear agreement because, among the faults of the deal, the measure weakened the language targeting Iran’s ballistic missiles. Nonetheless, the missile trial was Iran’s way of testing whether President Donald Trump is all bluff and bluster and no action on policy in the Middle East.
Trump passed the test.
Two days after putting Iran “on notice” for its provocative actions, the Trump administration did indeed act. The Treasury Department instituted sanctions affecting the banking privileges of 13 people and 12 organizations spread across three networks involved in supplying Iran’s weapons programs. One of the targeted networks supports Hezbollah, the terrorist organization with thousands of conventional but deadly missiles aimed at Israel.
We’re under no illusions that these sanctions will end Iran’s missile program, its support for terrorists or its efforts to exert hegemony across the Middle East. But it’s refreshing after President Barack Obama’s soft treatment of Iran, including the refusal to acknowledge any violations of the agreement, and his failure to enforce his own red line on chemical weapons in Syria that his successor is willing to back up words with actions that have bite but stop far short of war.
As National Security Adviser Michael Flynn said, “The days of turning a blind eye to Iran’s hostile and belligerent actions toward the United States and the world community are over.”
That’s not to say Iran will now change its ways.
The Islamist government in Tehran remains both anti-Israel and anti-Semitic, as the official news service’s PressTV affiliate demonstrated within hours of the announcement of the sanctions.
“Rogue Jewish group in US Treasury orchestrated Iran sanctions,” PressTV’s headline declares.
Relying on classic anti-Semitic memes, the article claims that the Treasury Department is dominated by Jews, and it calls out one Jew in Washington by name: none other than Stuart Eizenstat, one of Jewish Atlanta’s favorite sons.
We can only guess that the Iranian “news” outlet singled out Eizenstat because of his leading role in winning reparations and property restoration for Holocaust victims and their families — a noble effort that PressTV labels a “looting operation.”
Or, perhaps, Iranian journalists are demonstrating their dark sense of humor. After all, this real-life example of fake news is the closest staunch Democrat Eizenstat, a Jimmy Carter loyalist who also served President Bill Clinton and Obama, will ever get to a role in the Trump administration.