‘New York Times’ is wrong and illogical regarding Iran nuke deal

Siding with Tehran, an editorial argues that the United States should offer to end most sanctions if Iran goes back to the terms of the agreement—one it never adhered to from the start.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi near the Bushehr nuclear plant. Credit: Hossein Heidarpour/Wikimedia Commons.
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) and head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) Ali Akbar Salehi near the Bushehr nuclear plant. Credit: Hossein Heidarpour/Wikimedia Commons.
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard
Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews and After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.

The New York Times officially joined, really rejoined, the appeasement lobby with its latest editorial calling on the Biden administration to roll over to the Iranians to preserve former President Barack Obama’s sole foreign-policy “achievement,” the catastrophic 2015 nuclear deal. Echoing the agreement’s supporters, it falsely claims the Iranians complied with the JCPOA and adopts their position as acceptable.

The Times, predictably, dismisses former President Donald Trump’s approach and disparages his decision to withdraw from the agreement. It says, correctly, “maximum pressure” failed to “cripple the country enough to humiliate it into accepting new terms more favorable to the United States,” and that these “sanctions are unsustainable” and “haven’t changed Iranian behavior for the better.”

The editorial left out a critical word—“yet.”

They acknowledge the sanctions “have crippled the country” but fail to admit this was over the course of only two years during which the Europeans, the Chinese and the Russians have done everything possible to undermine the sanctions. Trump expected to have another four years to further tighten the screws on Iran, and the Times has no way of knowing how long Iran could have continued down its current path. Do they, for example, think Israel would have done nothing?

The Times is correct that the Iranians restarted nuclear work, but they never stopped covert actions to pursue their ambition as we know from the revelations that have come out since the deal was signed, which only proved how inadequate the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) was from the outset and how unreliable the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in enforcing any agreement. But that is not what the Times is referring to; the editorial only relates to the overt violations of the JCPOA.

Yes, Iran increased its stockpile of enriched uranium, it has increased its purity, it is using more sophisticated centrifuges, and it is reducing the time it will take to build a bomb, but was this all due to the failure of the Trump policy?

On the contrary, the Iranian’s ability to flout the terms of the JCPOA is the best evidence of its flaws. Remember that Obama told us Iran would be cut off from all avenues to build a bomb? How is it then they have gotten closer? Obama also told us that snapback sanctions would be applied if Iran violated the agreement, but when Trump reapplied those sanctions, the other signatories refused to punish Iran for its violations. Had they presented a united front, reimposed sanctions and enforced rather than try to sabotage U.S. sanctions, could Iran have sustained its defiant posture?

It was also Obama, not Trump, who told us Iran’s behavior would change for the better; instead, it worsened. Also, Iran never complied with the agreement, most notably disregarding Obama’s contention they would have to accept anytime, anyplace inspections, by refusing to allow inspectors into the military facilities most likely to be the sites of nuclear-weapons development. The Times ignores this and speciously claims that “international inspectors were also allowed to investigate every inch of Iran’s nuclear fuel cycle with little advance notice.”

The IAEA was unaware Iran had begun a nuclear program and, even after the JCPOA, did not know about the trove of documents it retained regarding the project or the warehouse where nuclear activities continued before Israel made them public. The IAEA has no idea of what secret facilities or programs Iran may have and therefore cannot be relied upon to stop the production of a bomb. Do we really want to trust the world’s safety to an agency that has been such a failure? The Israelis certainly do not, as Netanyahu made clear when he said that Israel would not be bound by any agreement that would enable Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Siding with Tehran, the Times argues that the United States should offer to end most of the sanctions if Iran goes back to the terms of the deal. Instead of punishing Iran for violations as Obama promised, the Times and Biden negotiator Robert Malley believe the mullahs should be rewarded.

Bizarrely, the Times argues that pacifying Iran does not give up the leverage we have built up and poo-poos the bipartisan letter signed by 43 senators that calls on Biden to close the loopholes in the agreement, and the glaring omissions of its support for terrorism and development of ballistic missiles designed for the purpose of delivering nuclear weapons (a fact the Times ignores). “If Iran was inclined to capitulate to those American demands, it would have done so long ago,” the editorial board concludes.

So, Iran’s leaders will not agree to take the necessary steps to stabilize the region and end its threat to U.S. interests; therefore, we should appease them. By this logic, since we knew Hitler would not agree to American demands to change his policies, we should have negotiated an agreement with him on terms he would accept.

How Chamberlainesque.

The paper also turns reality on its head. “If the United States refuses to honor the first agreement,” says the editorial board, “why would Iranians ever trust it to honor a second?”

Let’s rewrite that sentence accurately: “If Iran failed to comply with the first agreement, why should the United States trust it to comply with a second.”

In another recommendation for appeasement, the Times notes that China and Russia won’t abide by onerous sanctions forever, insisting this is a reason to capitulate rather than take tougher measures towards those two countries which are challenging American interests far beyond Iran.

Strategic interests are secondary to the touching concern the Times has for ordinary Iranians suffering under sanctions, which it admits is because the regime takes care of itself at the expense of its people. Nevertheless, the editorial says, “Iranians are dying from lack of insulin and other drugs—deaths that the Iranian regime attributes to the United States.” It regurgitates this propaganda while acknowledging in the next sentence there are “humanitarian exceptions to sanctions for the sale of food and medicine to Iran.”

Again, the newspaper’s answer is not to punish the regime for the suffering it’s causing but to reward it.

One hope is that the Iranian people, already fed up with the oppressive regime, will rebel as conditions worsen under sanctions, but the Times derides “hawks, like former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who insist that the sanction-driven misery will miraculously cause the Iranian people to one day rise up, throw off the theocracy and embrace the West.” It notes that uprisings did not have that result in Libya and Syria, but unlike Iran, neither of those countries was pro-West before monsters seized power. Moreover, when the Iranian people did try to end their misery in 2009, Obama refused to help because he did not support regime change and thought improving U.S. relations with the ruling clerics was more important. Biden appears determined to adopt the same approach, which can only further demoralize the people for whom the Times cries crocodile tears.

The paper also argues that sanctions didn’t “curb Saddam Hussein’s power.” True, but we also didn’t seek a deal with Saddam to improve our relations with Iraq. Inadvertently, the Times is making the case for military action, which did end his regime.

The Times talks about a “regional coalition” that can be built “if the nuclear program can be brought under control peacefully,” which, like the entire editorial, ignores the views of our allies in the Middle East who oppose a new deal with Iran and believe even tougher measures must be applied to ensure that Iran does not get a bomb and stops its malign activities.

As I’ve written before, there is virtually no chance Iran will give up its nuclear ambition, which the mullahs see as necessary for the survival of their unpopular radical Islamic regime. The only solution will be the use of military force, which, I’ve noted, does not necessarily mean another Desert Storm-type invasion the scaremongers use to justify placating the mullahs.

Laurel Leff, author of Buried by The Times: The Holocaust and America’s Most Important Newspaper, noted the paper considered the murder of millions of Jews “a relatively unimportant story.” The last people Biden should be taking advice from are the editors of the newspaper that turned a blind eye to the last regime that expressed an intention to exterminate Jews.

Mitchell Bard is a foreign-policy analyst and an authority on U.S.-Israel relations who has written and edited 22 books, including “The Arab Lobby, Death to the Infidels: Radical Islam’s War Against the Jews” and “After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.”

The opinions and facts presented in this article are those of the author, and neither JNS nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.
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