The Iran Deal Has Already Put Tehran on the Path to Nuclear Weapons
Last week, the State Department coordinator on Iran, Stephen Mull, acknowledged that the Obama Administration has failed to monitor the transfer of Iranian uranium shipments to Russia. Mr. Mull was unable to tell the House Foreign Affairs Committee just exactly where 25,000 pounds of Iranian enriched uranium had gone.
This is only the latest development facilitating Iran’s march to nuclear weapons since the announcement of the Vienna nuclear deal between America, the West, and Iran last June. Such developments were predictable because the Vienna agreement was so comprehensively defective.
Why? Because President Obama discarded one requirement after another in order to obtain a deal.
Thus, the agreement permits Iran to retain all the components of its nuclear weapons program — uranium enrichment, thousands of centrifuges, its Arakplutonium facility, its Fordow underground nuclear facility — while shredding the international sanctions regime on Tehran, and infusing its economy with hundreds of billions of dollars in unfrozen assets and sanctions relief.
Unsurprisingly, since the agreement’s conclusion, Iran has announced a 32% increase in military spending. And that’s not all. With the deal’s massive financial windfall in the offing, Iran has significantly increased its financial support for the terror groups Hamas and Hezbollah. Previously, support for both had dropped due to pressure on the Iranian economy. Now, cash in suitcases are coming to Hamas’ military leadership in Gaza, fueling prospects of a renewed outbreak of war with Israel.
Iranian money has also enabled Hezbollah to obtain highly developed armaments previously beyond its means, and to dispatch thousands of its fighters to Syria to bolster the Assad regime in its battle with Sunni jihadists. As Syria analyst Avi Isacharoff notes, “Today, Iran is the main, and likely only, power attempting to build terror cells to fight Israel on the Syrian Golan Heights, in areas under Assad’s control.”
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, has declared that America remains an enemy. President Obama heralded the agreement as leading to a detente with Iran, though he also rigorously excluded any non-nuclear issues from the deal. That suited Khamenei, who has said, “Our policy regarding the arrogant US government will not change …We don’t have any negotiations or deal with the US on different issues in the world or the region.”
It was all very well for President Obama to say that all options remain on the table should Iran prove unwilling to implement the agreement, but this neglects the changes in Iran’s favor that the agreement brings, not least of which is the money to purchase new anti-aircraft defense systems, in particular, the S-300 missile system from Russia.
Verification is always the test of any security regime. In the case of the Vienna deal, we already know that Iranian nuclear weapons experts have been allowed to provide their own soil samples from nuclear sites like Parchin, without International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors present. This is what led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to compare the deal to a drug-dealer being allowed to wipe his apartment clean ahead of an announced police raid.
Iranian officials have also declared that their nuclear scientists are not available for interview and that Iran will not even proceed with the nuclear agreement at all unless the IAEA Board of Governors closes the file on the possible military dimensions (PMD) of its nuclear program — in essence, demanding that all investigation of Iran’s past nuclear program be dropped, irrespective of what the IAEA knows, or doesn’t know, about it. Despite serious reservations from nuclear experts, the Obama Administration looks likely to agree to closing the PMD issue.
Iran has also not fulfilled its commitments under the Vienna deal to dismantle two-thirds of its active centrifuges, which had been intended to limit their nuclear capacity to 6,000 old-generation centrifuges already in Iran’s possession. Nor has Tehran reduced its stockpiles of enriched uranium up to 3.6% to 300kg, or destroyed its medium-grade enriched uranium. Nor has it made engineering changes to its Arak plutonium reactor. In fact, Iran has maintained that Arak is to be “modernized” — a different matter to terminating its plutonium-making capacity.
The Vienna deal also affects US support for its Middle East allies. Not wishing to antagonize Iran and give it any pretext to walk away from the agreement, the Obama Administration has refused to provide new weaponry to the Persian Gulf Arab states. It is also at loggerheads with Israel over future weapons systems. Far from taking new steps to protect allies that he admits are threatened by the deal, President Obama has made appeasing Iran his touchstone, as many suspected he would.
This is merely what we already know has occurred in the first six months since the deal. There is no reason to assume we won’t be seeing more such developments.
Morton A. Klein is National President of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA). Dr. Daniel Mandel is Director of the ZOA’ s Center for Middle East Policy and author of H.V. Evatt & the Establisment of Israel (Routledge, London, 2004).