Iran in Crisis: Corona, Sanctions, Uranium

(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs) Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser and Dr. Michael Doran - Brig.-Gen. (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser: Maximum pressure on Iran should be maintained because there is no other option and because it is working. It puts the regime in a very difficult position. It is losing a lot of money and if its propaganda campaign to blame the U.S. for its failures fails, it may not see a way out of the difficult position it is in. Israel wants to see more pressure on Iran and is fully behind what the U.S. is doing right now. At the same time, Israel is trying very hard to prevent Iran from harming it, and is fighting the Iranian presence in Syria and the Iranian efforts to improve the capabilities of Hizbullah in Lebanon with precision-guided rockets. The Iranians are very rapidly accumulating 4.5%-enriched uranium, not 3.67% as the JCPOA allowed up to 300 kilograms. They have everything working, both new centrifuges they have developed and the old centrifuges, including in the underground fuel enrichment plant in Fordow. I think they are about four to six months away from having enough fissile material for the first nuclear device if they choose to, and they are continuously shortening the time. Everybody is worried, but no one is doing anything about it. This is very dangerous because if the Iranians feel cornered, they could try to make a dash for a bomb. This poses a great danger to the entire world. Even though their chances of success are small - the Americans have already sent two aircraft carriers to the Gulf in order to send a warning - left without any other options, the Iranians may consider it. Dr. Michael Doran: There's not a lot of appetite in the Trump administration to do anything to change the status quo at the moment because it calculates that time is on its side, that the more time goes on, the deeper these sanctions bite into the Iranians. I follow the Iranian social media and see lots of postings by Iranians about warehouses full of antiseptic materials and protective equipment for hospitals that isn't getting to the hospitals. Collecting these stories, validating them, and making them better known would be a useful activity. The Iranian regime has no compassion for its own people; it only cares about its base. Social media now coming out of Iran gives us lots of opportunities to explain to American college students what a rapacious regime looks like, how it behaves, and how it uses our own sense of compassion against us. The Iranians got the fear of God put in them with the killing of Qasem Soleimani. It showed that the United States is capable of escalating and can inflict a very big price on them with a single drone or two from Qatar, not even launched from inside Iraq. Brig.-Gen (res.) Yossi Kuperwasser, former head of the IDF Military Intelligence Research Division and director general of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, is director of the Project on Regional Middle East Developments at the Jerusalem Center. Dr. Michael Doran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, served in the departments of State and Defense, and on the U.S. National Security Council. This report is from a special online experts' briefing hosted by the Jerusalem Center on March 26, 2020.

2020-04-07 00:00:00

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