Mark Dubowitz is the CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute, where he leads projects on Iran, sanctions, countering threat finance, and nonproliferation. When it comes to nuclear non-proliferation, Dubowitz is an internationally recognized expert.
Dubowitz on Lifting Iran Sanctions Under President Obama
“The deal (as well as the interim agreement in place during the negotiations) provided Iran with substantial economic relief that helped the regime avoid a severe economic crisis and return to a modest recovery path. The lifting of restrictions on Iran’s use of frozen overseas assets of about $100 billion gave Tehran badly needed hard currency to settle its outstanding debts, begin to repair its economy, build up its diminished foreign exchange reserves, and ease a budgetary crisis, which in turn freed up funds for the financing of terrorism.”
President Donald Trump has taken a more aggressive stance vis a vis Iran and we should expect to see a less conciliatory posture over the next three years. “I am waiving the application of certain nuclear sanctions, but only in order to secure our European allies’ agreement to fix the terrible flaws of the Iran nuclear deal. This is a last chance,” said Trump in January. “In the absence of such an agreement, the United States will not again waive sanctions in order to stay in the Iran nuclear deal. And if at any time I judge that such an agreement is not within reach, I will withdraw from the deal immediately.”
Mark Dubowitz has been unrelenting in his criticism of half-measures and has urged members of Congress to keep the pressure on and aid dissidents in Iran who may have some momentum right now after years of oppression. Dubowitz argued earlier in January in an editorial in Politico, “Americans of both parties should speak up. Iranians, like dissidents everywhere, are looking for support from abroad. The Trump administration’s early statements have been important—as have statements from Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, Bernie Sanders, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers.”
Dubowitz’s most important point that he makes right now is that expanding awareness of human rights abuses in Iran may provide an opening for greater leverage in containing Iran’s nuclear adventures. This is an important point, especially in the light of the fact that President Donald Trump just signed an Executive Order on December 21, 2018 that includes an injunction and the freezing of assets on anyone guilty of human rights abuses in various parts of the world.
While the scope and enforcement of the Executive Order remains to be seen, there is power and teeth exerted by the new Administration. The Executive Order would give the right to seize the assets of anyone in the United States as well as abroad who was guilty of any human right abuses.
This issue crosses over into what is happening in Iran because of the way that Iranians are being oppressed by their leaders and denied their basic human rights. One of the ways Trump’s executive order can help the Iranian people is by cutting down on the level of abuses that are connected to some political organizations both in the U.S. and abroad.
What is nuclear non-proliferation?
One of Dubowitz’s primary concerns is nuclear non-proliferation. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty or NPT, is an international treaty signed in 1968, whose primary goal is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons Most countries have signed over the years, about 190 countries in all, and it remains the overwhelming view of the civilized world that nuclear disarmament should be a policy for all nations.
One of Dubowitz’s best points is the fact that though Obama also made a deal with Iran regarding nuclear disarmament, the current facts should be looked upon as more important than any previous scenarios that were in existence during the Obama administration for pursuing the non-proliferation agenda.
Dubowitz also points out the importance of Trump’s early statements on Iran and how we have to consider what is going on now and not hold onto a flawed agreement simply because it reflected a consensus from the previous Administration. Trump’s pragmatism and willingness to veer away from established political and diplomatic norms when in the country’s best interest may cause a reset in our current strategy with Iran.
You can check out several of recent media interviews with Mark Dubowitz here.