May 18, 2022
JERUSALEM WEATHER

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Could a Purim Iran deal turn the world around? Upon looking at the recent developments of the soon-to-be signed Iran Nuclear deal, a Purim-like miracle could occur with modern-day Persia and their plot to annihilate the nation of Israel.

Five permanent member nations

In the bizarre reality of international politics, Russia is acting as a major party in the ongoing negotiations in Vienna by the Biden administration focused on reviving the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) known as the Iran nuclear deal. The P5+1 signed the agreement, that is, the five permanent member nations of the UN Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) plus Germany.

President Donald Trump withdrew the United States from the JCPOA in 2018.

An avalanche of aggressive sanctions

After 11 months of negotiations that seemed to be leading to a resolution, Russia created an impasse on Saturday when Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov interjected, saying that the Western sanctions over the invasion of Ukraine had become a stumbling block for the nuclear deal. Lavrov cited the “avalanche of aggressive sanctions that the West has started spewing out, which hasn’t ended as far as I understand,” over the Ukraine conflict.

“We requested that our US colleagues… give us written guarantees at the minimum level of Secretary of State that the current [sanctions] process launched by the US will not in any way harm our right to free, fully-fledged trade and economic and investment cooperation and military-technical cooperation with Iran,” Lavrov said at a news conference.

Delegates from the EU and Iran meet in Vienna at the JCPOA (screenshot)

A powerful tool serving both countries

Both Iran and Russia are significant oil producers, and cooperation will undoubtedly be a powerful tool serving both countries. Conversely, western nations, including the US, are interested in removing sanctions against Iran to replace Russian oil sources that are proscribed due to sanctions against Russia. A successful deal would bring significant volumes of Iranian oil back to global energy markets in the months ahead.

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken disagreed, attempting to keep the war in Ukraine separate from the Iran deal.

A Russian-American interest

“These things are totally different and just are not, in any way, linked together. So I think that’s irrelevant,” Blinken said in an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” show. Blinken added that it was not only in America’s interest but Russia’s as well that Iran not be able “to have a nuclear weapon or the capacity to produce a weapon on very, very short order.”

Iran followed Russia’s lead, telling the US negotiators that they consulted with the Russian government. Russia wanted a written U.S. guarantee that Russia’s trade, investment, and military-technical cooperation with Iran would not be hindered in any way by the sanctions.

What Moscow wants

“It is necessary to understand clearly what Moscow wants. If what they demand is related to the JCPOA, it would not be difficult to find a solution for it,” said an Iranian official. “But it will be complicated if the guarantees that Moscow has demanded are beyond the JCPOA.”

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has made public calls for closer ties with Russia. Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine was preceded by a visit from Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Vladimir Putin in Moscow, the first of its type in five years.

Russia is a significant trade partner for Iran, especially regarding Iran’s excess oil reserves. Iran is the only country in Western Asia invited to join the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia’s international treaty organization, in response to NATO. While much of the Iranian military uses Iranian-manufactured weapons and domestic hardware, Iran still purchases some weapons systems from Russia. In turn, Iran has helped Russia with its drone technology and other military technology. Also, due to the regional aspirations of Turkey, a NATO partner, Iran is strengthening its ties with China.

Purim coming up

Rabbi Hillel Weiss, the former spokesman for the Sanhedrin, noted that negotiations for the Iran deal have been in the works for quite some time. Before the invasion of Ukraine, diplomats had announced that it was about to be signed. Nonetheless, it was not signed, and the holiday of Purim is around the corner (March 16-17).

Rabbi Hillel Weiss (Facebook)

“It is not by chance that after all this time, the signing, or rejection, of the Iran deal is going to happen on Purim,” Rabbi Weiss said. 

The rabbi then referred to a verse from the Book of Esther:

And so, on the thirteenth day of the twelfth month—that is, the month of Adar—when the king’s command and decree were to be executed, the very day on which the enemies of the Yehudim had expected to get them in their power, the opposite happened, and the Yehudim got their enemies in their power. Esther 9:1

The reference to “the opposite happened” is understood to be a central theme of the holiday. The day that Haman established as the destruction of the Jews turned out to be a day of celebration and salvation.

Haman or King Darius

“Iran is at a point of decision,” Rabbi Weiss said. “They could follow in the path of Haman, who was not, in fact, Persian, or they can follow in the footsteps of the Persian King Darius who facilitated the return of the Jews from exile and the construction of the Second Temple.”

“Iran is Persia,” Rabbi Weiss said. “They are not Arab, but they have taken on Islam, the belief that came out of Ishmael. Before the Islamists took over, Persia was a close ally of Israel.”

In fact, in 1968, while the entire Arab world was planning vengeance for the Six-Day War, Israel and Iran formed the Eilat Ashkelon Pipeline Co. to operate three pipelines linking Eilat to Ashkelon and Ashkelon to the refineries in Ashdod and Haifa. The goal was to use Israel as a bridge to Europe for Iran’s oil. This plan collapsed with the Iranian revolution in 1979. 

That plan was revived after signing the Abraham Accords in 2020 opened the way for a deal that would result in oil from the oil-producing Gulf Arab states being transported via the same pipeline. The impetus for the Abraham Accords and the pipeline deal was the common threat of Iran.

“This Iran deal has always been seen as an existential threat to Israel,” Rabbi Weiss said. “It could be that coming at the same time as the war in Ukraine, at the time of Purim, could turn everything upside down.”

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