Robert Malley, thinly disguised as an “unnamed State Department official,” informed the media this week that negotiations with Iran in Vienna have one goal “to come back into compliance with the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), all of the JCPOA, and nothing but the JCPOA.”
This is the same Iran deal that the same Robert Malley negotiated on behalf of President Obama. The result then was that 60 percent of Congress voted against the deal including virtually all Republicans and almost 30 Democrats. Indeed, the deal would have been rejected by the US Senate if it had been properly designated as a treaty.
While the Biden administration seems poised to rush back into the fatally flawed nuclear agreement, US officials should stop and take heed of Nelson Mandela’s sage advice delivered to a joint session of Congress 30 years ago.
South Africa was faced with severe global economic sanctions as the international community took a firm stand with the South African people against the abhorrent policy of apartheid. Today, the Iranian people similarly look for hope from the US, as the country’s corrupt regime continues to oppress its people and fund terror campaigns across the Middle East in a bloody quest for regional expansion.
Mandela urged that sanction remain in place on South Africa, “because the purpose for which they were imposed has not yet been achieved.”
“We plead that you cede the prerogative to the people of South Africa to determine the moment when it will be said that profound changes have occurred and an irreversible process achieved, enabling you and the rest of the international community to lift sanctions,” Mandela said.
The Iranian regime is desperate for sanctions relief. Tehran’s accessible cash reserves have plummeted to under $4 billion dollars from around $122 billion in 2018.
But it is the US that appears the desperate party, ready to offload the powerful leverage built up against the evil regime of the Ayatollah and his IRGC henchmen, for a photo op and meaningless, empty promises.
“I have decided I must oppose the agreement,” the 2021 Senate Majority Leader, Senator Chuck Schumer wrote in 2015.
“I believe Iran will not change, and under this agreement it will be able to achieve its dual goals of eliminating sanctions while ultimately retaining its nuclear and non-nuclear power. Better to keep US sanctions in place, strengthen them, enforce secondary sanctions on other nations, and pursue the hard-trodden path of diplomacy once more, difficult as it may be.”
If anything, given Iran’s history of lying and cheating on the nuclear deal, and its continuous upgrades to its missile technologies and non-stop support for global terrorism, Schumer’s advice is even more appropriate today. But that’s not what’s playing out. Dual working groups for Iran and the US have been set up by external parties, such as China, with the express purpose of determining which sanctions could be removed in order to restart the JCPOA.
The leaders of the anti-Apartheid movement understood that sanctions were the key to winning. Oliver Tambo cautioned Mandela during secret negotiations with South African President P.W. Botha, “Don’t maneuver yourself into a situation where we have to abandon sanctions…we should not get stripped of our weapons of struggle, and the most important of these is sanctions.”
As early as 1962, when Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. appeared alongside the former President of the African National Congress, Albert Luthuli, their joint statement included a call to “urge your government to support economic sanctions.”
But today, far more relevant than Senator Schumer or even Nelson Mandela are the pleas coming from the long-suffering Iranian people begging that this time the US listen to them – not the Ayatollahs.
Ahmad Obali opened the lines of his weekly dial-in show on March 30, a favorite of thirty million Azerbaijanis living in Iran-one third of Iran’s entire population.
Forty-eight of the 50 who called in from Iran risked their lives to ask for America to keep the sanctions.
Here are some of their comments:
- “Even though we suffer, I support the sanctions”
- “If the sanctions are kept intact, the regime will collapse”
- “When the sanctions were lifted [with the JCPOA], $150 billion came to Iran, but not a single dollar went to the people. Maintain the sanctions.”
- “When a terrorist regime gets money, we know how they spend it, what kind of problems they create in the Middle East and around the world.”
- “The sanctions must stay. Whatever money you give, the mullahs will pocket it.”
- “The sanctions should stay. The mullahs should go.”
The Iranian people know what the Biden administration seems to ignore: Their rulers cannot be trusted. The good people of Iran know that any sanctions relief for Iran’s financial services, construction, energy, mining, automotive or petrochemical sectors will directly fund the terrorist activities of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps.
Iranians know that lifting sanctions will allow the further suppression of Baha’is, Christians and other religious communities. They know Iran will continue to crush the dissent of their own citizens, murder gays, and fund global terrorists all over the world including Houthi child soldiers in Yemen forced to shout, “death to Israel and death to America.”
The JCPOA did not result in a vaunted new era for Iran. A former State Department official documented 70 individual incidents committed by the Iranians while the JCPOA was in full effect. Then, of course, were the myriad violations of the nuclear agreement uncovered by Mossad in 2018 when they captured Iran’s nuclear archives. Iranians denied the files were real until just last week when a powerful Iranian official inadvertently confirmed the confiscated documents were authentic.
We urge President Biden not to reward Tehran’s serial cheating and lying. Don’t re-enter the nuclear agreement until massive loopholes are closed. Lifting sanctions should come only after proof a revamped, more expansive, and stronger agreement is fully adhered to. The silent cries of the long-suffering Iranian nation need to be listened to, and their grievances addressed.
Do we really want to prop up a fanatical regime that hates America, Americans, and our democratic values?
Rabbi Abraham Cooper is the associate dean and director of the Global Social Action Agenda at the Simon Wiesenthal Center. Rev.
Johnnie Moore is president of the Congress of Christian Leaders and founder of The KAIROS Company.