The Heritage Foundation to the Oval Office:

Not to back off any sanctions, cast the new deal as a treaty

January 30, 2021 - 17:29

TEHRAN- The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank in Washington, D.C. which has a significant influence on U.S. public policymaking.

It is also considered as one of the most influential conservative public policy organizations in the United States. The think tank has been one of the key non-state actors under Democratic and Republican administrations, including in George W. Bush, Clinton and Obama’s administrations in terms of shaping and directing anti-Iran sanctions.

According to the “2018 Global Go-To Think Tank Index”, released by the University of Pennsylvania, Heritage was ranked as the No. 1 think tank when it comes to impact on public policy. It was also first in the “Best Use of the Internet” category.

The most cited Heritage experts who comment on West Asia, national security, cybersecurity, missile defense, and terrorism are James Phillips, James Jay Carafano, and Peter Brookes.

They publish numerous reports, policy papers, and commentaries especially about the Islamic Republic of Iran. Like its conservative counterparts, Heritage redundantly accuses Iran of sponsorship of terrorism, pursuing nuclear weapons, escalating nuclear noncompliance, and expansionist approach in West Asia.

Since the beginning of January, given Biden’s stated policy to renegotiate with Tehran if Tehran returns to “strict compliance”,  the think tank has commented on the issue significantly, mostly by Phillips and Carafano.

Some of their latest commentaries and reports on Iran’s nuclear program follows:

Principal strategy: Sanctions in place plus normal Arab-Israeli relations

Carafano, a 25-year Army veteran, has testified many times before Congress as an expert on foreign affairs, defense, intelligence, and homeland security issues.

He describes Biden’s return to the JCPOA as “the most self-destructive mistake” the new president can make. On his January 19 appearance on Fox News, he explained that Iran “wants another sweetheart nuclear deal from Biden’s administration”. Carafano, who calls the JCPOA “deeply flawed”, believes that returning to the deal and the likely sanctions relief “would squander U.S. bargaining leverage.”

In addition, in a commentary titled “Why Going Back to Iran Nuclear Deal Is Folly”, he condemns Tehran to “cheating and blatant violations of the JCPOA”. In this regard, he argues: “If America rejoined the Iran deal as is, Iran would not be held accountable for past cheating and blatant violations of the deal.”

As a well-known supporter of Israel, Carafano stresses that one of the goals of the process of normalization between the Arab nations and Israel is “pushing back against Iran” and without the guarantor of U.S. engagement “the process would die.”

He further notes: “Mr. Biden ought to keep the (Iran) sanctions and arms embargo in place. They must also continue moving the process of normalization of relations between the Arab nations and Israel. With a united Middle East (West Asia),  the pressure of sanctions, and a unified front with the Europeans, the U.S. will be in the strongest position to secure the strongest deal for our national security. We should not back off any sanctions.”

The fellow overtly emphasizes: “The U.S. shouldn’t reenter Iran nuclear deal—Iran sponsors terrorism and seeks nuclear weapons.” He adds: “The left’s policies were all wrong during the Obama years, and they still have no good answers for how to deal with the problems the U.S. faces with Iran now.”

JCPOA: Too flawed to put Iran in a strong box

James Phillips, a senior research fellow for Middle Eastern (West Asian) affairs at the Heritage Foundation, has written extensively on regional issues and international terrorism since 1978.

A former research fellow at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress serves as a member of the Board of Editors of Middle East (West Asia) Quarterly, the leading conservative journal of Middle Eastern (West Asian) policy studies.

His articles have appeared in several newspapers such as USA Today, The New York Times, The Washington Times, New York Post, and Chicago Tribune.

Reiterating exact recommendations expressed by Carafano, even using the same words, the expert replicates terms such as the “flawed” Iran nuclear deal, “squander the bargaining leverage” as well as “Iran restoring nuclear extortion”.

Furthermore, Phillips stresses: “The U.S. cannot afford to return to the JCPOA because the nuclear deal never put Iran into a strong box.”

Describing the nuclear program as “Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions”, he suggest the necessity of leaving the door open for diplomacy with Tehran but NO RETURN TO THE JCPOA besides keeping sanctions in place until reaching “a new and much more restrictive arrangement”.

Recommendations to the Oval Office:

Phillips with a long record of  congressional testimonies like Carafano on West Asia’s security issues, recommends the Biden Administration to:

- “Insist on a new deal-making clear that otherwise there will be no deal.”

- “Maintain sanctions on Iran: No lifting of sanctions, if Tehran wants economic incentives, they should come in the form of a limited disbursement of its frozen assets, not in the suspension of sanctions.”

- “Demand that Tehran come clean on its past nuclear efforts. No trust on Iranian nonproliferation promises in the future unless Tehran acknowledges its nuclear weapons efforts in the past.”

- “Consult regional allies Israel and the Arab (Persian) Gulf states. Put a high priority on building collective security and economic framework that knits the region together.”

- “Cast a new nuclear agreement as a treaty with bipartisan support of the U.S. Congress. Not to repeat the original sin of the Obama Administration trying to bypass Congress by structuring the deal as an executive agreement.

By Azin Sahabi 

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