ANALYSIS: Israel and Trump's New Iran Sanctions

Thursday, August 09, 2018 |  Yochanan Visser

While the Trump Administrations re-imposed sanctions on Iran, Israeli pundits and politicians expressed hope that the new measures would ultimately lead to the downfall of the Islamic Republic. 

At the same time, they blasted the European Union for its continuing support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, the 2015 landmark nuclear deal with Iran.

Israel Radio, for example, quoted an anonymous high-ranking official who claimed that the entire Israeli intelligence community was optimistic that Trump's new sanctions would bring Iran to its knees and would force it to renegotiate the nuclear agreement.

“We would like to see a change in policy, but there is no way of knowing how long that will take,” the official said, adding that “the only hammer available right now is economic, and using that, there is a good chance Iran will fall to its knees.”

In his estimation, Iran is “weak and hysterical.”

On Monday, Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu also commented on the American move against Iran, stating that the re-imposed sanctions were “an important moment for Israel.”

“I congratulate President Trump and the US administration for making the important decision to impose sanctions on Iran. This is an important moment for Israel, the US, the region, and the entire world,”  Netanyahu wrote.

The Israeli leader added that Trump’s decision represented “the determination to curb Iran’s aggression in the region and its ongoing intention to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu also expressed hope that the European Union would follow the American example and would join Trump’s efforts to reverse the Obama Administration's premature lifting of sanctions in 2016.

The EU, however, stubbornly sticks to its support for the JCPOA, and on Monday formally issued a ‘blocking statute’ that prohibits European companies from complying with the renewed US sanctions. Instead, the EU has declared ruling by foreign (read: American) courts on the matter null and void, and has offered compensation to any European companies damaged by Trump's sanctions.

The endorsement of the blocking statute was announced by Frederica Mogherini, the EU’s Foreign Policy chief.

“Today, the (European) Council has endorsed the update of the blocking statute annex on the nuclear deal with Iran,” Mogherini said after a meeting of European Foreign Ministers in Brussels.

Mogherini added that the EU’s member states were doing all they could to save the nuclear deal with Iran, but admitted Trump’s new Iran policy could still wreck the JCPOA.

The European decision was met with outrage in Israel, where Public Security and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan harshly criticized the EU, calling the bloc “morally bankrupt.”

“The EU is morally bankrupt, and we need to remember that next time they try to lecture us,” Erdan stated during an interview with Israel Radio.

Yossi Kuperwasser, the former director of the IDF’s intelligence division and the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs, concurred.

Kuperwasser wrote in a  blog post for The Times of Israel that the EU was once again exposed  as “an appeaser of Iran and as a very weak force that can be totally ignored by the United States.”

The Israeli intelligence and security expert made mincemeat of Mogherini’s claim that the Iranian nuclear project was entirely “peaceful,” and said the International Atomic Energy Agency had been able only to identify that Iran didn’t transfer “uranium to a parallel nuclear project in addition to the one it already monitors.”

The EU also ignores documents that the Mossad stole in Tehran last January, which proved Iran’s nuclear program is a military one aimed at developing atomic bombs, according to Kuperwasser.

The impact of the new sanctions on the Iranian economy will be harsh, and the Iranian and European efforts to mitigate it “are doomed to fail,” the Israeli expert concluded.

In Iran, meanwhile, thousands of protesters again took the streets this week. They did so not to protest the renewed American sanctions, but to demand regime change.

The Iranians are furious over their regime’s mishandling of the economy and the diversion of funds to Iranian proxies such as Hezbollah in Lebanon.

The London-based Arabic paper Asharq al-Awsat published new videos showing demonstrators shouting “Death to Hezbollah” and “Death to the Dictator,” as well as death to inflation and unemployment.

“The nation is begging while the master lives like God,” a crowd in Iran chanted, according to The Wall Street Journal, which reported that the current unrest is the most severe it had seen since January, when mass demonstrations against the rule of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei were held.

Experts expect Iran’s economy will contract by 4.3 percent next year as the country’s currency, the Rial, continues to lose its value against the dollar, causing a sharp increase in the cost of imports. 

Iran furthermore suffers from electricity black-outs and a severe water crisis that impacts the lives of more than half of the population.

Prime Minister Netanyahu last month offered to help the Iranian people solve the water crisis by using Israel’s cutting-edge water technology, but his offer was ridiculed by the regime.

PHOTO: Iranian journalist Nada Amin, who received asylum in Israel, organized a demonstration in support of the Iranian people and their protests against the regime in Iran. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

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