Want 'Never Again' To Mean Something? Stop Iran's March to the Bomb | Opinion

January 27 was International Holocaust Remembrance Day, and this year's commemoration came at an especially grim time for Jews in the United States and all across the world.

Americans reacted in horror just two weeks prior as an Islamist terrorist took the rabbi and three congregants hostage at a synagogue in Colleyville, Texas. Apparently a believer in conspiracy theories of Jewish control of the U.S. government, Malik Faisal Akram demanded that the rabbi help gain the release of Aafia Siddiqui, currently serving an 86-year sentence in a nearby Texas prison for the attempted murder of a U.S. Army officer. The Biden administration released a statement in the aftermath declaring it would "stand against antisemitism." But absent a major course correction in the Biden administration's foreign policy, Jews are poised to be held hostage by terrorists on a scale far greater than they were in Texas. Those are the stakes for Israel if Iran, the world's leading state sponsor of antisemitism, acquires a nuclear weapon.

The Biden administration has spent the past year negotiating with Iran via European intermediaries about a mutual return to the 2015 nuclear deal. Though reports suggest that the two sides are still quite far apart, there's no doubt that the administration is eager to reenter the flawed accord. And Iran is leveraging the administration's enthusiasm for rejoining the deal to extract as many concessions as possible; for instance, the mullahs are trying to secure a promise that the U.S. will never abandon the deal and reimpose sanctions in the future, if both sides now come back into compliance.

But Iran's leaders are careful observers of American politics, and they know such a commitment could not hold in a future Republican administration. So, all such a "promise" would amount to is a useful pretext for Iran to walk away in the future. Meanwhile, the Islamic Republic has enriched uranium at a 60% level, and claims to be able to enrich at a 90% level—the threshold for a nuclear bomb.

Regardless of whether the Biden administration secures a new deal, don't expect Iran to abide by it anyway. In 2018, former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu definitively exposed how Iran had continued to maintain a secret nuclear weapons program forbidden under the terms of the 2015 deal, when he showed the world a trove of documents Israeli agents had procured during a raid. Current Prime Minister Naftali Bennett used his United Nations General Assembly speech last fall to claim Iran is continuing nuclear activity at secret sites in Turquzabad, Tehran and Marivan.

In this handout image from the Israeli
In this handout image from the Israeli Government Press Office, then-Vice President Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, look around at the names and photographs of murdered Jews as they visit the Hall of Names in the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial museum on March 9, 2010 in Jerusalem, Israel. Mark Neyman/GPO via Getty Images

The existential danger of an Iranian nuclear weapon for Israel is obvious. Even short of a nightmare scenario of Iran using a nuke against Israel, Tehran's mere possession of one could very well trigger a catastrophic regional conflict. Bennett also said in his UN address, "Words do not stop centrifuges from spinning." A pre-emptive Israeli strike on Iranian facilities could very well instigate new rocket onslaughts on Israeli targets from the likes of Hamas and Hezbollah in numbers far greater than Hamas' barrages last May.

But what really fuels Israeli alarm over Iran's nuclear program is the regime's vicious antisemitism, which the current crop of leaders will assuredly continue to propagate. Interior Minister Ahmad Vahidi and Mohsen Rezaee, now vice president for economic affairs and formerly the chief of Iran's murderous Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, helped kill 85 and injure 300-plus in the 1994 bombing of the Argentine Mutual Israelite Association, a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The regime is also willing to blackmail Israel using the treatment of Iran's Jews as a bargaining chip. Rezaee has reportedly said, "The Israeli government knows very well that if it makes a mistake, the regime will treat the 10,000 Jews living in Iran differently." All of this is on top of the regime's now-customary genocidal threats: In 2020, the ayatollah called Israel a "cancerous tumor" that "will undoubtedly be uprooted and destroyed."

In 1979, at the age of six, I fled Iran with my family after the regime executed the leader of the country's Jewish community and my father was threatened with denunciation as a "Zionist" spy. What I fear most is that the regime's longtime mantra of "Death to Israel"—which has become passé to Western elites' ears—is not just a slogan, after all.

Seventy-seven years after the end of World War II, the U.S. retains a moral obligation to deny the one country in the world that threatens genocide against Jews the means to carry out that threat. The only way to prevent an Iranian nuclear weapon is to stop financial concessions, build on the campaign of crippling economic pressure the Trump administration inaugurated, continue the covert activities (likely Israeli-led) that have dealt setbacks to Iran's nuclear march and establish a military deterrence posture that makes clear the intolerable costs the United States and Israel will impose on the regime if it ever does acquire a nuclear weapon.

This year, the Biden administration once again said "Never Again" on International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A tougher approach to Iran would put some teeth into those words.

Ellie Cohanim is a senior fellow at the Independent Women's Forum and is the former U.S. deputy special envoy to monitor and combat anti-Semitism at the U.S. Department of State. Follow her on Twitter: @EllieCohanim.

The views expressed in this article are the writer's own.