The Iran nuclear deal posed a simple tradeoff: In exchange for Tehran agreeing to limit its nuclear capabilities, economic sanctions would be lifted.
But the devil is in the details concerning a role for missiles on the nuclear side and state sponsorship of terrorism on the sanctions relief side. President Obama front-loaded sanctions reprieve, so Iran received sanctions relief upfront, while compliance was to come later. Obama “trumped” Trump, so to speak.
The nuclear deal aims to extend time for Iran to create a nuclear bomb. To make one type of nuclear weapon takes, inter alia, enriched uranium, the fissile material, actual building and testing of the bomb, a trigger mechanism, and a delivery system.
Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States formed a political commitment with Iran in Geneva on July 14, 2015. The fifth anniversary of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, (JCPOA), known as the Iran deal, will be in a year, mid-July 2020. The deal was neither a treaty nor signed, just a political commitment among the parties, which allowed President Trump to withdraw from the deal on May 8, 2018, per The White House.
But now there is a new wrinkle concerning Iran: Tehran is a partner in proliferation with North Korea. Iran can get around the “sunset provision” of refraining from a nuclear weapons breakout for 10 years.
The “sunset provision” holds that when the various restrictions imposed on Iran’s nuclear program expire, it provides Iran with a patient pathway to acquiring nuclear weapons, per Ali Vaez on October 3, 2017.
Vaez quotes Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in testimony to the Congress on April 5, 2017.
President Donald Trump promised to “rigorously enforce” the JCPOA, which he has also called “the worst deal ever negotiated.” While strict enforcement is an important first step, it is insufficient. The JCPOA provides Iran with a patient pathway to nuclear weapons capability.
The Iran deal also assumes Tehran will open up its facilities — that is to be transparent. But in February 2015, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) revealed details of an underground top-secret site used by the Iranian regime for research and development, using advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
If Washington and its partners seek to block Tehran’s pathway to acquiring the bomb, as Dubowitz states, any agreement should include complete implementation of all Security Council Resolutions, immediate halt to enrichment, closure of related facilities, including Natanz, Fordow, and Arak, signing the Additional Protocol, and start of IAEA’s snap inspections. The Protocol grants the agency wide-ranging inspection powers.
Dennis Ross of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote in The Atlantic on July 10, 2019, “If Tehran agrees to extend the JCPOA’s sunset provisions and curtail its activity in Syria and Lebanon, Washington may be willing to lift the nuclear sanctions and create a special-purpose vehicle.”
Moreover, if Iran could agree to an extension of the “sunset provisions,” for 10 to 15 years, and limit rockets, missiles, and military infrastructure in Syria and Lebanon, doing so Washington might reduce the prospect of a wider regional war between Israel and Iran. In exchange, Trump might lift the nuclear sanctions, which would allow American and international firms to do business in Iran, so long as they complied with a strict set of rules. It wouldn’t offer everything either side wants, but it would produce more for each side than the current impasse, per Ross.
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted that, “Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. Nations should restore the longstanding standard of no enrichment for Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s regime, armed with nuclear weapons, would pose an even greater danger to the world.”
While on July 7, Pompeo advocates further isolation and sanctions, Russia and China are impediments to Tehran’s isolation. Per a report, by United Against Nuclear Iran.
But it is highly likely the workaround will be ineffective. Hence, China and Russia may fill the vacuum created by EU retreat from Iran. UANI CEO Ambassador Mark D. Wallace said, “By increasing their ties to Iran, both Russia and China are revealing the shallowness of their past commitments to fighting terrorism and controlling the spread of nuclear weapons.”
The Way Forward
First, President Trump: Remember Tehran is a partner in proliferation with North Korea. So, break links between them by pressuring both. If Pyongyang partners with Tehran they are stronger, and Beijing’s as well as Washington’s sanctions will have little effect.
Second, Mr. President: The Iran deal also assumes Tehran will be open up its facilities — that is to be transparent. But Tehran was not: The NCRI revealed details of an underground top-secret site used by Tehran for research and development, using advanced centrifuges for uranium enrichment.
Third, Mr. President: as Secretary Pompeo stated, “Iran’s latest expansion of its nuclear program will lead to further isolation and sanctions. So, the more Iran expands its nuclear program expect more penalties.
Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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