The Menendez-Kirk “Nuclear Weapon Free Iran Act of 2013” (S. 1881) threatens the Iranian regime with additional sanctions and appears to be the only way to counter the Obama administration’s flaccidity vis-à-vis Tehran.
I am skeptical, however, that it can do much good.
1. Like the megalomaniacs in North Korea, the mullahs are dead-set on building a nuclear arsenal regardless of the toll this takes on their long-suffering subject population. Yes, sanctions increase economic privation which could lead to a counter-revolution but the odds of that happening in time are very small. Thus, the Menendez-Kirk bill is more symbolic than real.
2. Tehran has threatened to abandon the P5+1 negotiations should the Menendez-Kirk bill become law, but Tehran gains too much from diplomacy to scuttle it for symbolic reasons. Its threat is just a tactic to pressure the Obama administration into opposing the congressional bill. Were the bill to come into effect, Tehran would surely find an excuse to keep talking.
In short, Washington is no longer a player in the Iran game. The views and actions of the U.S. government count about as much as those of the Belgian government — i.e., hardly at all.
In contrast, the one potential force that still might stop Iran is the Government of Israel; and the only way it can obstruct the Iranian program is through the use of force (as opposed to economic sanctions or computer viruses). Whether or not Netanyahu and his colleagues decide to deploy military force is the only question hanging over the mullahs’ acquisition of a nuclear arsenal.
Maybe that’s yet another reason why we need a Jewish state.