Former Israeli defense chief: US should impose non-nuclear sanctions on Iran

The US should impose sanctions on Iran in response to Tehran’s violations of the 2015 nuclear deal, announced former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon.

On Monday, former Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, outlined justifications for sanctioning Iran based on the Islamic republic’s violations of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) agreement. But he added that the international community must take care not to waste energy with infighting rather than focusing on dealing with the threat that Iran poses to the Middle East.

“There are at least 3 reasons to apply sanctions now: Iran has violated both the agreement and Security Council resolutions, they provide weapons to terror groups like Hezbollah, Hamas, Houtis in Yemen and elsewhere, and human rights.

“But if the United States imposes sanctions on the regime alone, it could start a fight with other members of the P5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States, plus Germany). – so instead of focusing efforts on Iran, energy would be spent on internal fighting,” Yaalon told Army Radio.

Yaalon’s comments are the latest missive in a years-long Israeli attempt to dissuade the international community from negotiating with Iran, with just limited success: Monday, British Prime Minister Theresa May told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that London views the JCPOA as an important tool to ensuring Middle East stability and warned that pulling out of the agreement – as Netanyahu has consistently urged – would endanger the region, and Israel in particular.

“The “UK remains firmly committed to the deal and that we believe it is vitally important for regional security,” May said.

Other signatories to the agreement – namely Germany – have also reiterated their commitment to the JCPOA in recent weeks and expressed concerns about US President Donald Trump’s hints that he could pull the United States out of the agreement, a move that would give Congress 60 days to re-impose sanctions on Iran.

Yaalon said that there is “no question” both that the agreement forged by the Obama administration is a “very bad agreement. But he acknowledged both the lack of international consensus on a course of action to derail Iran’s nuclear program moving forward, as well as Tehran’s absolute refusal to renegotiate the terms of the deal.

“The question is what to do about it now,” he said. “It is important to put pressure on the Iranian regime. And of course they don’t want to re-open talks. It’s a very good agreement for them. They came ‘on all fours’ to the negotiating table, with a collapsing economy and very real threat of a popular uprising [against the Ayatollahs].

“But instead of capitalizing on a position of strength, the Obama administration gave in on so many points that the Iranians walked way from the talks with nearly everything they’d hoped to achieve.”

Asked whether he shared retired deputy Chief of Staff Yair Golan’s recent assertion that Israel lacks the ability to move against Iranian nuclear facilities without the United States, Yaalon said that while Israel is not a superpower, the country has the ability to defend itself.

“Without commenting on Yair’s comments, I would only say that we can defend ourselves, by ourselves if need be,” Yaalon said.

By: Andrew Friedman/TPS