The top United States financial official visited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday, and in a sign of the times, their first topic named by Netanyahu to the press was not economics; it was Iran. “This is what is going to occupy a great deal of our discussions today—how to stop Iran’s dual aggression: Its quest for a nuclear arsenal and its quest for a conventional arsenal and its plans of conquest in the Middle East,” said Netanyahu in comments released by his office during a meeting with US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
As head of the US Treasury, Mnuchin is key to enforcing US sanctions on Iran, which are ramping up even more in November when oil restrictions go back into effect. And those aren’t the only increase in sanctions. Additional moves were announced last week by the US after they discovered who is paying for an Iranian militia to use child soldiers.
The major US sanctions on oil follow the decision by US President Donald Trump to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Netanyahu noted that the sanctions relief and economic benefits from the JCPOA—totaling hundreds of billions of dollars—only fueled Iran’s aggression in the region to “unbelievable heights.”
“That is why we welcome President Trump’s bold decision to get out of the JCPOA and the focus of our discussions today is ramping up the pressure, ramping up the pressure against the world’s foremost terrorist regime—the aggressive regime in Tehran.”
As yet another example of the crimes committed by powerful entities in Iran, US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley last week said that the US levied sanctions on 20 Iranian corporations and financial institutions that help fund the Basij Resistance Force, which uses child soldiers.
“For anyone who cares to look, this is a perfect example of what is fueling the outrage of the Iranian people today,” said Haley in comments to the UN Security Council released by her office. “Iran’s economy is increasingly devoted to funding Iranian repression at home and aggression abroad. In this case, Iranian big business and finance are funding the war crime of using child soldiers. This is crony terrorism.”
During the joint press conference with Mnuchin, Netanyahu noted that the economic cooperation between the US and Israel was also on their agenda. But given the seriousness of the Iranian threat and Netanyahu’s beliefs on what can constrain that threat, it’s no surprise that Tehran was tabbed as the focus of their discussions.
Said Netanyahu, “We have seen in recent years that pressure is the only thing that arrests the forward movement of the Iranian nuclear program and pressure is the only thing that rolls back Iran’s aggression in the region. We’re going to discuss how we can cooperate on this matter.”
(By Joshua Spurlock, www.themideastupdate.com, October 21, 2018)