Melanie Phillips: Britain has its head in the sand on Iran

It’s hard to exaggerate the perfidy, cynicism and head-in-the-sand cowardice currently being displayed by Britain.

By Melanie Phillips, JNS

When Britain’s foreign Secretary Dominic Raab recently visited Jerusalem, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly chewed his ear off.

Small wonder. It’s hard to exaggerate the perfidy, cynicism and head-in-the-sand cowardice currently being displayed by Britain, along with France and Germany, over Iran.

Instead of joining forces with those trying to neutralize the growing threat from the Iranian regime, Britain and these two other key European powers are actually acting in concert with the world’s twin empires of evil, Russia and China, in shoring up this terrorist rogue state.

Earlier this month, the United States proposed at the U.N. Security Council to extend the Iran arms embargo, which is due to expire on Oct. 18.

This was strongly supported by the Gulf states, which said that Iran has continued to supply conventional weapons to terrorists and separatists in the region and to intervene militarily in neighboring countries.

The proposal, however, went down in flames. Only the Dominican Republic voted in favor; Russia and China opposed it, while the United Kingdom, France, Germany and other Security Council members abstained.

As a result of this debacle, the United States activated the “snapback” mechanism under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the Iran nuclear deal brokered by President Obama in 2015 along with the United Kingdom, France, Germany and others. If Iran is shown to have violated its terms, Security Council members can activate snapback to reinstate all U.N. sanctions against Iran that predated the deal.

Yet snapback is now also being blocked by the same unholy alliance of Security Council members. They claim that America isn’t eligible to activate it because U.S. President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA in May 2018.

The United States says this is irrelevant because the Security Council resolution behind the deal empowers member states to activate snapback without any conditions. Even if the United States were ineligible, however, other Security Council members surely have a duty to activate snapback since Iran has long been cheating on the JCPOA’s provisions.

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In June, the International Atomic Energy Authority reported that Iran had enriched uranium beyond its permitted allowance and committed other breaches of the agreement. The IAEA also said that Iran was continuing to refuse to grant international inspectors access to its nuclear sites and might be concealing undeclared nuclear materials and processes.

Britain, France and Germany know all this. Indeed, they themselves have activated the JCPOA’s dispute resolution mechanism in protest at Iran’s violations.

Yet they stood by while the Security Council proceeded to allow the world’s biggest supporter of terrorism to resume buying and selling lethal weapons.

Worse still, according to the U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, the United Kingdom, France and Germany had assured him privately that although they were abstaining on America’s proposal they didn’t want the arms embargo against Iran to expire.

European diplomats have privately agreed that the three countries share America’s goal of maintaining the arms embargo but say they need to find a compromise with Russia and China. Really? Why this craven and abject hypocrisy?

The answer is funk, partisan political prejudice and greed. The United Kingdom, France and Germany are deeply reluctant to jeopardize the billion-dollar trading links they have with China, Russia and Iran.

Britain was a cheerleader for the JCPOA. It dismissed all concerns about Iran’s history of lies and deception. It denied that the deal would at best only delay Iran’s production of nuclear weapons. It waved aside the fact that it would channel billions of dollars into the coffers of the most dangerous terrorist regime in the world.

There have been suggestions that Britain and France suppressed their concerns about the deal because they wanted to suck up to Obama. Conversely, because of their loathing of Trump, they won’t follow his lead now.

Maybe. But Britain’s cultural default also makes it a sucker for manipulative foreign psychopaths. For its deeply empirical mindset prevents it from recognizing lethal religious fanaticism.

Because it doesn’t grasp the unique derangement of anti-Semitism (which courses through its own society and culture), it doesn’t understand why the murderous hatred of Israel that drives both the Iranian mullahs and the Palestinian leadership can never be deflected.

Because it views religious faith as essentially absurd, it doesn’t take seriously the belief animating the Iranian regime’s dominant Shi’ite “Twelvers” that a violent apocalypse engulfing the region and the world will see the return to earth of the Shi’ite messiah, the Twelfth Imam.

Britain believes instead that everyone is susceptible to appeals to their short-term self-interest; and so everything can be resolved through negotiation, peace processes and, if necessary, cutting a deal between God and the devil.

It was this mindset which contributed to its devastating appeasement of the Arabs in British Mandate Palestine, when it tore up its own legal obligation to settle the Jews there and instead offered part of the land to the Arabs while closing it to Jews desperate to flee the Nazi Holocaust.

Unabashed by his country’s shameful history of appeasement in the region—and with the stench of its current repeat performance rising from his briefing notes—Raab presumed to lecture the Israelis on how they should produce peace.

Even now, the British government is obsessed with meeting the Palestinians’ demands; even now, it is perpetuating the falsehood that Israel is not legally entitled to apply its sovereignty to the disputed territories.

The prime minister, Boris Johnson, couched his tepid welcome for the United Arab Emirates’ historic decision to normalize relations with Israel as a welcome for Israel’s suspension of its sovereignty plan.

Raab reportedly came to Jerusalem to try to persuade Israel to drop this plan altogether. Quite apart from their malice and shamelessness, the Brits simply haven’t grasped that the issue for the region is no longer the Palestinians (as if it ever was). It’s now Iran.

It is fear of Iran that fueled the UAE deal. The Gulf states understand that they need Israel and the United States to neutralize the threat of Iranian regional hegemony. And they are deeply concerned that if Joe Biden becomes president, he will become Obama mark two, reinstating the JCPOA and again paving the way for an Iranian nuclear bomb with international approval.

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Clearly, this concern is shared in Jerusalem, so much so that it’s prompting some to wonder whether Israel will attack Iran before November’s election.

Trump’s resumed sanctions have weakened the regime. The assassination of Qassem Soleimani, the strategic genius of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps’ Quds Force, was a blow from which it has not recovered. There’s been a series of unexplained explosions in Iran’s sensitive weapons infrastructure.

So there’s never been a more promising opportunity to deliver a decisive blow against the regime, preferably by reimposing draconian sanctions. But there’s also never been such a dangerous time, with rising tensions and increasing Iran-backed attacks across both the Lebanese and Gaza borders—and with this wounded regime perhaps determined, if it believes it is indeed going down, to take Israel with it.

Such a time demands a unified resolve among those trying to stop this evil. And standing up against it are the United States, Israel and the Gulf states.

But on the other side stand the United Kingdom, France and Germany, supporting Russia and China in shoring up a regime that has waged a 40-year war against the West, intends to wipe Israel off the map and is getting ever closer to possessing the nuclear weapons that it thinks will enable it to do so.

Britain, France and Germany now risk becoming a shocking fifth column in the defense of the free world.

Melanie Phillips, a British journalist, broadcaster and author, writes a weekly column for JNS. Currently a columnist for “The Times of London,” her personal and political memoir, “Guardian Angel,” has been published by Bombardier, which also published her first novel, “The Legacy,” in 2018. Her work can be found at: