Senator Cruz Criticizes Biden’s Iran Policies as ‘Exactly Backward’

It all comes back to efforts to revive the nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic, because ‘as much as some members of the Biden administration might hope to win the war in Ukraine, they care much more about entering an Iran deal,’ he says.

AP/John Locher, file
Senator Cruz at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, November 19, 2022. AP/John Locher, file

Israeli security planners say they can destroy enemy installations even as new warnings emerge that Iran’s nuclear facilities are being situated ever deeper underground. Yet, as Jerusalem craves Washington’s cooperation in ending that threat, Senator Cruz is warning that President Biden’s Iran policies are “exactly backward.”

The Associated Press is reporting that the Islamic Republic is building a new facility in the Zagros Mountains, near the nuclear plant at Natanz, in central Iran. The installation is dug “so deep in the earth that it is likely beyond the range of a last-ditch U.S. weapon designed to destroy such sites,” according to AP.  

“There is no place we can’t reach,” Prime Minister Netanyahu’s national security adviser, Tzachi Hanegbi, told a conference at Herzliya, Israel. Yet, “we are hoping not to arrive at a situation that will necessitate a kinetic attack” and that a diplomatic deal can be reached. “We’re hoping that the Americans will maintain their policies, and that we will not have to face such a dilemma.”

Mr. Hanegbi was perhaps paying lip service to Mr. Biden’s claim that the Iranian nuclear threat could be ended by diplomatic means. Israelis tend to cultivate relations with whoever is at the White House, at least when speaking in public. Mr. Cruz, in contrast, is much more willing to air out skepticism over the president’s approach. 

On Iran, “I think America should reverse our policy entirely,” the Republican senator of Texas told the Sun in an interview. “The Biden administration’s policy is exactly backward. For two-and-a-half years Joe Biden and the Democrats have alienated our friends and allies around the world. They consistently show weakness and appeasement toward Iran. They undermine Israel, and they particularly undermine Benjamin Netanyahu.” 

The core problem, he says, is the White House’s eagerness to revive President Obama’s 2015 nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which President Trump walked away from in 2018. “The no. 1 foreign policy objective of the Biden administration is re-entering an Iran deal, no matter how bad the terms are,” Mr. Cruz says. 

The president “has already refused to enforce the oil sanctions,” Mr. Cruz says. “He’s allowing the ayatollahs to sell a million barrels of oil a day that is funding the regime,” even while Iran is the “no. 1 supplier of weapons to Russia, and those weapons are used to kill Ukrainians.” America, he adds, is “literally funding both sides of the war on Ukraine. It is madness.”

It all comes back to the 2015 nuclear agreement, because “as much as some members of the Biden administration might hope to win the war in Ukraine, they care much more about entering an Iran deal,” Mr. Cruz says. 

Despite Mr. Hanegbi’s public comments in support of diplomacy, Israelis are well aware that a military confrontation to stop Iran’s rapid nuclear advances may be necessary, and soon.

“Given how close Iran is to a bomb, it has very little room to ratchet up its program without tripping U.S. and Israeli red lines,” a nonproliferation director at the Arms Control Association, Kelsey Davenport, told AP. 

The Reichman University’s Herzliya conference at which Mr. Hanegbi spoke Monday is an annual event akin to the Aspen Institute’s annual policy gathering. While there, the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, Lieutenant General Herzi Halevi, spoke of the possibility that “developments” relating to the Iranian nuclear file could lead to a military strike. 

“Iran has made more progress in uranium enrichment than ever before,” General Halevi said. “We are also closely examining other aspects of their path to nuclear capability. Without going into details, there are possible negative developments on the horizon that could prompt action.”

Indicating that Israel could hit even Iran’s most deeply dug facilities, General Halevi added that “we have abilities and others have abilities. We have the ability to hit Iran.” Yet, while Israel’s capabilities “are good,” he said, “we need to strengthen them more so that we can carry out a broad campaign against Iran.”

That last remark was widely understood to be an appeal for additional American arms, including aircraft capable of carrying heavy bombs, munitions known as bunker busters, and refueling jets that could extend Israel’s reach into Iranian space. Some of those have been quietly transferred to Israel, and during a joint exercise in March, American and Israeli pilots conducted midair refueling over Nevada.

Yet, a March decision to cut short Secretary of Defense Austin’s visit to Tel Aviv due to anti-government protests underlined a perception that there are limits to the military cooperation, and that they may be rooted in politics rather than security needs. Mr. Biden has indicated that as long as Israel’s internal dispute over a proposed judiciary overhaul lasts, he would not invite Mr. Netanyahu to the White House.

“My stance is that this is a question for the voters of Israel to decide,” Mr. Cruz told the Sun. Yet, he added, the president backs Mr. Netanyahu’s political opponents. For now, Israel counts on Washington’s cooperation in stopping Iran’s nuclear drive. It may ultimately have to go it alone.  

The New York Sun

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