The US Senate last week passed a symbolic motion demanding that the previous iteration of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, known as the Iran nuclear deal, is not reinstated without fundamental changes — including reining in Tehran’s terrorist proxies that operate freely throughout the Middle East and addressing its growing ballistic missile program.

The nonbinding motion passed by 62 votes to 33, with 16 Democrats voting in favor. It was further acknowledged that the Iran deal was critically flawed in a way that made it unsustainable from the outset: It may have successfully contained Iran’s nuclear capacity, but it left Tehran free to attack other American interests and allies in the Middle East. And Iran has long had an extensive network of proxies throughout the Middle East dedicated to just that goal and who were always going to keep doing what they were already doing.

Iran funds, supplies with weapons and training and often even directly coordinates the strategy and tactics of groups such as the anti-US, anti-NATO Bashar Assad government in Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in the Palestinian Occupied Territories and the Houthis in Yemen. In recent years, it even began helping the Taliban, with whom it was previously antagonistic, in their efforts to expel the US from Afghanistan. On top of that, Iran has sustained a myriad of smaller terrorist groups and cells that have carried out attacks against US diplomatic and military assets for decades.

A Democratic-led Washington could wear those excesses and fight that fight in isolation of the nuclear deal. But any anti-Iran hawk could later come in and use the activities of those proxies against American interests in the region as a pretext to sink the JCPOA and set America on the path to a direct military confrontation with Tehran. Washington certainly has no shortage of anti-Iran hawks who are keen to do just that.

So, yes, it is imperative that Biden resurrects the Iran deal to make sure that Tehran does not acquire nuclear weapons. The only other way to potentially stop Tehran from pursuing and achieving that goal is out and out war, which in the aftermath of the experience of Iraq should obviously be avoided. Iran is a much bigger and more powerful country than Iraq was. And the people of Iran, even those who loathe the regime, would hate Western intervention even more and would rally against invading forces — to say nothing of the fact that Iran has close economic and strategic ties to Russia and China, and both would aid Tehran’s war effort. War is not only a morally wrong course of action, it would be ruinous for America’s interests. Washington may not lose that war, but it would likely lose the peace.

However, if war is to be avoided during this administration and also subsequent ones, the treaties between Washington and Tehran that would guarantee the peace need to be politically sustainable for the long term. Future US administrations must not have easily accessible pretexts to rescind the agreements and reinitiate hostilities. And that primarily means that Iran must be constrained from continuing its proxy wars against US interests and allies in the region.

All these things are true and recognizing them as such must be the foundation of any good-faith effort to rebuild the nuclear agreement. But in exchange for that good faith, it should be demanded of Iran that it responds with equal good faith and stops funding every proxy and terrorist group opposed to America in the Middle East. If an agreement is to be reached, it must be engaged in by both parties in good faith.

And an agreement must be reached, because a failure to do so would almost certainly lead to war. In that war, there will be no winners — the US will lose status, money, power and the lives of American soldiers, the Iranian regime will lose lives, and millions of innocent people caught in the middle will suffer and die needlessly. That is a scenario no one can afford.

Source » arabnews