Philip H. Gordon

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A heavy water secondary circuit at a nuclear plant near Arak, Iran, last month. Credit Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, via Associated Press

The costs of the United States’ targeted killing of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, are mounting beyond the already significant risks of Iranian retaliation and subsequent military confrontation.

On Sunday, Tehran announced that it will cease to honor all “operational restrictions” imposed by the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, which aimed to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

While Iran has not announced what, if any, specific nuclear activities it intends to resume, its decision to remove the restrictions on its uranium enrichment, production and research could soon pose a challenge for the Trump administration at least as great as retaliation against the assassination.…  Seguir leyendo »

The murder of Saudi columnist Jamal Khashoggi, along with sharply deteriorating humanitarian conditions and growing media attention paid to the war in Yemen, has led to increased pressure on Saudi Arabia to end the war there.

Top U.S. officials are now calling on Riyadh to agree to a ceasefire and participate in U.N.-sponsored talks, and the Pentagon announced last Friday it would no longer provide in-air refueling for Saudi bombing runs. Meanwhile, Congress, led by the new Democratic majority in the House, is credibly threatening to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which countries such as Germany have already done. The growing pressure, a marked departure from the almost-unconditional support the Trump administration has been providing to the Saudis, has led to renewed hopes that the war might finally be brought to a negotiated end.…  Seguir leyendo »

Destroying the Iran Deal While Claiming to Save It

President Trump’s recent “help-me-before-I-do-something-really-irresponsible” statement on the Iran nuclear deal could have been worse. But it should have been better. And it will almost certainly end badly.

Contrary to what many had feared, Trump didn’t void the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). While he imposed some new penalties on Iranian officials, they were not of the sort that put the deal in immediate danger. He nonetheless chose yet again to attack and undermine an international agreement that, by all accounts, is working, to which America’s allies and partners are committed, and whose collapse would both severely undermine U.S.…  Seguir leyendo »

A woman dodged tear gas at Tehran University on Saturday, the third day of unauthorized protests in Iran. Credit via Associated Press

As anti-government rallies gather momentum across Iran — taking outside analysts and the Iranian government alike by surprise — President Trump and his foreign policy advisers are likely asking what they can do to support the protesters.

Mr. Trump, after all, has said Iran is responsible for nearly all the problems of the Middle East, and accuses the country of spreading “death destruction and chaos all around the globe.” The president would no doubt love to announce that his tough approach has delivered results by undermining the repressive Iranian government, and that his predecessor’s more conciliatory approach failed.

I, too, want to see the government in Tehran weakened, moderated or even removed.…  Seguir leyendo »

Even before President Obama’s decision last week to abstain on a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning Israeli settlements, it was safe to assume that the Israeli government was eagerly awaiting his departure. In the eyes of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mr. Obama — who skipped Israel on his first trip to the Middle East and later undertook secret nuclear talks with Iran — seemed unable to appreciate the depth of Israel’s security needs or the difficulties of Mr. Netanyahu’s domestic politics.

Mr. Netanyahu was officially neutral during the United States election campaign, but it’s a good bet that he privately rejoiced over the election of Donald J.…  Seguir leyendo »

The debate over the July 14 nuclear agreement with Iran has come down to a question of alternatives. President Obama and other defenders of the agreement argue not that it is perfect, but that it is far better than any realistic alternative, and certainly better than the use of military force. Critics, on the other hand, deny that the alternative to this deal is war. They contend that increasing economic pressure on Iran, backed by a credible threat of force, would yield a better diplomatic deal.

Unfortunately, political science does not lend itself to controlled experiments, and we cannot test these competing hypotheses over the next 10 to 15 years to see which yields a better result.…  Seguir leyendo »

When it comes to engaging Iran -- a signature theme of his foreign policy -- Barack Obama is taking his share of criticism. Republican rival John McCain predictably denounces Obama's call for direct talks with Iran, while his foreign policy aide Randy Scheunemann labels that approach nothing less than "unilateral cowboy summitry."

More surprisingly, some Europeans also seem wary of Obama's proposed change in U.S. policy. They argue that the international community must not abandon its official line that no negotiations with Iran may take place unless Tehran suspends its uranium enrichment program. This month unnamed European officials told The Post's Glenn Kessler that they "feel strongly about continuing on the current path," and one French analyst even accused Obama of unilaterally "dropping Security Council conditions."…  Seguir leyendo »