Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

For Dec. 7: Iran (again)

Next week, we’ll revisit this topic that continues to be relevant and has recently returned to the headlines.

  • Do we think, as some have asserted (NYT), that the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist was intended to complicate any Biden Administration efforts to rejoin the Iran Nuclear deal?
  • Or will it actually make a renewed Iran Nuclear deal more likely, as at least one other has speculated (WaPo)?
  • Or will it expose vulnerabilities (NYT) within the Iranian government and its people?
  • What should be the U.S. approach to Iran (and Israel)?
  • And how will it all play out?

If there’s time and interest, we may also discuss Afghanistan (again)—another area in which the Trump Administration appears to be taking significant action before the end of the Trump presidency. Who’d have thought the New York Times Editorial Board would credit the Trump Administration with “laudable steps toward a U.S. exit?”


  • In response to Scott’s question # 4, the approach to Iran & Israel (and the larger Middle East) would be to get serious about a Nuclear Free Zone, like the zones in Africa, Latin America and elsewhere. This was proposed at the UN by Iran and Egypt, soon after it became known that Israel was seeking nuclear weapons. How about calling Iran’s bluff? Israel hasn’t “fessed up” to its nukes for more than 40 years but has implied it would only launch them from its submarines if Israel itself were attacked with nukes. This is called the “Samson Option.”
    The United States, acting in Israel’s behalf, has frustrated all efforts by Europeans and others to get serious about a Middle East free not only of Nukes, but also other weapons of mass destruction.
    With increasingly agile and sophisticated non-state actors (Al Qaeda, Isis and even some Christians and Jews) hoping to initiate the Millenium, this issue is more urgent than ever.

  • A further thought: A strong effort is underway to “delink” issues between Palestine & Israel from the “nothing is solved unless everything is solved.” In 1992, “everything” was characterized as “Borders, Refugees, Jerusalem, and Security:” as an afterthought, “water” was added to this list. Things have now changed. Water is far less of a concern for Israel, which leads the world in desalination and water recycling, and is now awash. Security cooperation, assuming the US returns to its role as coordinator of Mossad and PLO/Ramallah police services is far less of an issue. Jerusalem, will likely be addressed with a US consulate if not Embassy in East Jerusalem or Ramallah. (I think an empty building is available.”
    On December 2, a proposed “Blue Green Deal” was released by Ecopeace (an outfit with which I’ve been involved that would treat the entire Jordan River Valley as a Climate Change test case combining Jordanian solar power with Israeli Desalination/recycling used for transboundary water&power management that would benefit Jordan, Israel and Palestine if not others. The concept was endorsed by the UN Security Council, and in general terms by both Israeli and Palestinian negotiators. It would probably build on the 1994 treaty between Israel and Jordan.
    I realize this quickly gets into the techie weeds, and we may not want to discuss it today, but it provides backdrop for the changed conditions that Biden and his national security team will address of which nukes are apart. AND climate change is one of Biden’s priorities, and this could be a stunning beta-test of international cooperation on a small scale before the global issues are addressed.

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