The Iranian people have a proud and distinguished history. It pains us to see what Iran has become in the hands of narrow minded, bigoted fanatics.
Iran’s identity was not created by the Islamic Revolution, nor will its future be defined by it. In the meantime, we have to deal with a dangerous, draconian, and destabilizing regime which oppresses its own people and exports fanaticism and instability to its own region and beyond.
None of us have any quarrel with the Iranian people, but with the regime that increasingly oppresses them, that exports violence and instability to its neighbors, and which threatens to provoke conflict through its attempt to become a nuclear weapon state.
Iran’s own malign influence is not confined to their immediate neighbors. Even as European countries sought ways to try and finance trade with the Iranian regime, Iranian-inspired terror groups are increasing their activities across the European continent. In the Netherlands, two Iranian diplomats were expelled in June 2018, for plotting political assassinations in the country. A bomb plot to target a rally of opposition groups in Paris was foiled by French intelligence. Lebanese Hezbollah remains Iran’s primary terrorist proxy. And of course, through its proxies, Iran continues both direct attacks on Israel itself and on Israeli targets in other parts of the world.
Internationally, the great piece of unfinished business is the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA. I always believed that the agreement was fundamentally flawed. It was neither credible nor responsible to see Iran’s nuclear ambitions outside its support and encouragement for its terror proxies. And the original aim of stopping Iran from becoming a nuclear weapon state had morphed into a deal merely to put its ambitions on hold for a decade or so even before the deal was completed. Iran was immediately rewarded for signing and not implementing the agreement by the immediate unfreezing of $150 billion worth of Iranian assets.
An agreement with Iran may be possible but it must take account of Iran’s human rights abuses, its exports of terror, its explicit threat to the security of Israel, and its attempt to destabilize its regional neighbors. Above all, we must return to the position that we will stop, not to delay, Iran’s nuclear weapon ambitions. Wishful thinking may be an attractive idea, but it’s a very poor basis for foreign or security policy.