Why the Iran Nuclear Deal Is a Sham
President Donald Trump is considering whether to pull out of the nuclear deal signed with Iran by his predecessor Barack Obama. The agreement’s supporters are painting apocalyptic scenarios of Iran resuming its nuclear program and the US going to war to stop this. Simultaneously, they claim that the deal cut off all avenues to an Iranian bomb and that the Iranians are complying with their obligations.
But those insisting that Trump adhere to what the president has called the “worst deal ever” are lying.
And how do we know the deal’s supporters are lying when they claim that Iran is complying with the agreement and has abandoned its nuclear program? To answer that question, ask yourself this: If Iran was working on a bomb, where would the project be undertaken?
The answer is in a secret location and/or a military installation. By definition, inspectors do not know if Iran has any clandestine labs, so no one can assure us that nuclear research and development is not currently being conducted.
According to Israeli sources, within a few months of signing the nuclear deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) was given information regarding sites that Iran had not reported as part of its nuclear program and where it was believed that forbidden nuclear military research and development activity was being conducted. Few of the suspected sites were inspected because of Iran’s refusal to allow access and the IAEA’s unwillingness to confront Iran on the issue.
Assuming we know about all of Iran’s facilities, the deal still has a gaping loophole created by Iran’s refusal to allow inspectors to enter Iranian military sites in violation of the agreement. This is quite different from Obama’s promise of “unprecedented” inspections. It is also proof that no one can verify that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons.
We don’t need secret intelligence to know that Cohen is the one telling the truth. The IAEA has found that Iran has committed several violations and only complied when caught. According to then-National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, “The IAEA has identified and we’ve identified some of these breaches that Iran has then corrected. But what does that tell you about Iranian behavior? They’re not just walking up to the line on the agreement. They’re crossing the line at times.”
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano revealed in September 2017 that Russia opposed the agency’s enforcement of the section of the nuclear deal that bans “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device,” such as using computer models that simulate a nuclear bomb or designing multi-point, explosive detonation systems.
David Albright, President of the Institute for Science and International Security, testified last year in Congress that his institute found several Iranian violations of the agreement, as well as cases where Tehran exploited loopholes in the deal to weaken its effectiveness.
- Iran has twice had more than its heavy water limit of 130 metric tons.
- Iran is likely operating advanced IR-6 centrifuges in excess of the limit allowed.
- The Atomic Energy Organization of Iran has sought sensitive nuclear-related materials and facilities beyond what it needs or should get.
- Iran is seeking to exploit a loophole in reactor restrictions, including work on naval propulsion reactors.
Last October, German intelligence reported that the Iranian regime made 32 attempts to purchase illicit nuclear materials during September and October 2017. The report stated that the Iranians used front-companies based in the UAE, Turkey, and China to try and purchase the materials from individuals in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia.
The head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, has said that Iran has the capability to build advanced centrifuges on short notice.
The mass production of these centrifuges (or their components) would greatly expand Iran’s ability to sneak-out or breakout to nuclear weapons capability, or surge the size of its centrifuge program if the deal fails, or after key nuclear limitations end. If Salehi’s statement is true, Iran could have already stockpiled many advanced centrifuge components, associated raw materials, and the equipment necessary to operate a large number of advanced centrifuges.
Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, said on March 5 that Iran could ramp up enrichment of uranium to the pre-agreement level of 20% within 48 hours. How would this be possible if the agreement cut off all pathways to a bomb, as then-president Obama claimed?
Critics of the deal have also pointed out that, at best, the agreement only buys a few years before Iran can resume its nuclear program. Even Obama acknowledged that, by the end of the deal, the breakout time for Iran to build a bomb would shrink “almost down to zero” (emphasis added).
Meanwhile, Iran has violated agreements related to the deal, notably by its noncompliance with UNSC resolution 2231’s prohibition on conventional weapons sales and transfers, and its prohibition on ballistic missile testing.
When the US had some leverage with sanctions in place, we had the opportunity to pressure Iran to cease sponsoring terror, end its missile research, and curtail its interference in other countries — but Obama was too afraid of losing the agreement on nukes to insist on those measures. Thanks in part to the windfall in assets unfrozen by the nuclear deal, Iran has increased each of those activities.
As current National Security Adviser John Bolton has suggested in the past, it may yet be necessary to use military force to destroy Iran’s facilities. At the very least, a credible threat must be put on the table. The Iranians knew that Obama would never use force, and that allowed the Iranians to take him to the cleaners in negotiations. Before force is used, however, draconian sanctions should be applied to ensure inspection of military facilities and to force the permanent closure of Iran’s nuclear installations and destruction of all centrifuges.
It would be preferable to have the support of our allies, as well as the Chinese and Russians, but if they refuse to cooperate, we should use banking sanctions to hamstring their ability to do business with Iran. Sanctions placed on Iranian air travel, oil sales, and shipping can further choke the regime.
Our focus should not only be on eliminating Iran’s nuclear threat; we must roll back Iranian gains in the region and the destabilization it has caused. We need to work, ideally with our allies, to expel Iranian troops from Syria and Yemen, disarm Hezbollah, stop Iran’s support of terror, halt its development of ballistic missiles, prevent an Iranian takeover of Iraq, and support internal opponents of the regime. Fixing or nixing the nuclear deal is a pivotal first step in what must be a comprehensive strategy to confront Iran.
Dr. Mitchell Bard is Executive Director of the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise and author/editor of 23 books including The Arab Lobby and the novel After Anatevka: Tevye in Palestine.