- Iran has escalated support for regional proxy groups and supplied drones to further Russia’s war in Ukraine, increasing the security threat to American citizens and U.S. interests globally.
- President Joe Biden left the door open to Iran for a nuclear agreement that, while curbing Iran’s nuclear program, would nevertheless fuel Iran’s aggression, according to experts.
- “Iran is about as militaristic as it can be right now. If it gets more money and fewer restrictions on how it can spend that money, it will up its militarism,” Shoshana Bryen told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Israeli defense minister Benny Gantz warned Friday that the U.S. must have a viable military option for dealing with Iran as negotiations for a new nuclear deal near a climax, Axios reported. The pariah country’s military threat to U.S. interests will only increase with a deal, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
Iran has amped up support for groups that pose a security threat to the U.S., including terrorist forces in the Middle East, transferring drones to Russia for its war in Ukraine and plotting assassination attempts against Western opposition figures, according to multiple reports. At the same time, the Biden administration lacks a holistic strategy for countering the Iranian threat, instead choosing a deliberately weak posture to coax Iran into agreeing to a deal that could encourage further militarism, Middle East and national security experts told the DCNF.
“This administration doesn’t have a plan B,” said Behnam ben Taleblu, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “It’s a cook in the kitchen with 20 fires blaring, just trying to move one pan from the front burner to the back burner.”
In a meeting with National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan in Washington, Gantz received “positive hints” the U.S. is preparing a military option, Axios reported, citing an Israeli official. Israel sees a credible military threat as the only way to pressure Iran into an agreement that does the least damage to Israeli security interests. (RELATED: Biden: ‘All Forms Of National Power’ On The Table To Prevent A Nuclear Iran)
The U.S. provided a counter-proposal Wednesday to Iran’s offer recreating the 2015 nuclear deal that included sanctions relief and curbs on Iran’s nuclear program, but it is not clear whether the two sides will continue to negotiate, Axios reported. Gantz reiterated that Israel disapproves of the proposal currently on the table.
“Sullivan emphasized President Biden’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security, and [he and Gantz] exchanged views on ways to deepen the U.S.-Israel security partnership,” National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said in a statement.
Israel wants the U.S. to state outright that it will consider the military option, according to Taleblu. However, the Islamic Republic believes a nuclear deal would serve as a “political shield” against a preemptive strike on its nuclear facilities, making it harder for the U.S. to get away with direct action.
Israel prepared its own military option, according to The Times of Israel. The country is caught between two negative outcomes: allowing Iran to expand its nuclear program to full capacity, or a nuclear deal that would free up billions of dollars Iran can use to escalate its funding for regional militias.
Nothing here is true. We would never accept such terms. We also would not have left a deal that was working only to see Iran massively accelerate its nuclear program. https://t.co/MY6uJZzCGD
— National Security Council (@WHNSC) August 18, 2022
Crossfire between Iran-backed groups and the U.S. in Syria has increased during the Biden administration, according to Jewish Policy Center Senior Director Shoshana Bryen.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) forces in Syria exchanged rocket fire with Iran-backed militias in Syria in response to an Iran-sanctioned attack earlier in August on two U.S. military installations. At least one U.S. service member sustained injuries, while CENTCOM’s strikes took out four enemy targets.
The Syria situation “probably” bears little on nuclear deal negotiations, Bryen explained to the DCNF. “I suspect the Iranians will understand that if they want the deal, attacking the U.S. in Syria is counterproductive,” she added.
However, the policy may not have its intended effect, according to Taleblu, as many of the strikes on U.S. forces in Syria originated in Iraq, where Iran-backed groups have more control. “As long as Washington pulls its punches where the strikes originate … it is not going to be able to use those strikes to communicate a positive impression of resolve to the Iranians at the nuclear negotiating table,” Taleblu told the DNCF.
Instead, Iran’s influence continues to expand. Facing an international arms embargo, Iran has beefed up its domestic weapons industry, according to Reuters. After the embargo expired in 2020, Iran became capable of supplying forces across the globe that serve Iran’s purposes.
Iranian-made drones now support Russian troops despite U.S. warnings to Iran against the transfers, while the U.S. has given upwards of $13 billion in military equipment to Ukraine to counter Russian aggression, The Associated Press reported Thursday.
“Russia’s ability to establish a sanctions evasion hub in Iran alongside Russia importing armed drones from Iran will greatly undermine our pressure campaign on Putin and undermine Ukraine. This should really be called the Iran Russia Deal, not just the Iran Deal,” Richard Goldberg, Vandenberg Coalition Advisory Board member and former NSC adviser, told the DCNF.
The Islamic Republic also sponsored or encouraged plots to assassinate top U.S. officials, John Bolton and Mike Pompeo; kidnap an Iranian dissident; and kill author Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemous writings.
“Iran is about as militaristic as it can be right now. If it gets more money and fewer restrictions on how it can spend that money, it will up its militarism,” Bryen told the DCNF.
The White House did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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