The Iran nuclear deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was reached on July 14, 2015, by the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, China, the European Union (EU), and Iran.
Key Failings of the Iran Nuclear Deal:
- The JCPOA does not confirm the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear program and provides a clear pathway to nuclear weapons.
- Iran accepts temporary nuclear restrictions in exchange for front-loaded, permanent benefits.
- The deal emboldens and enriches an extremist anti-American terror state thereby furthering Iran’s expansionist and destabilizing activities.
Bottom Line Up Front:
First, the JCPOA should be improved and pressure on Tehran increased; second, a better deal would verifiably prevent Tehran from getting nuclear weapons permanently; end Iran’s ballistic-missile program, sponsorship of terrorism, regional aggression; and gross human rights violations; third, to increase pressure, President Trump should designate the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a foreign terrorist organization, freezing foreign investment in Iran because of IRGC pervasive involvement in and control of the Iranian economy through front companies.
On Oct. 4, the AP reported Trump is planning to deliver an Iran policy speech this week, and he is expected to say the 2015 nuclear deal is no longer in the U.S. national security interest. The address is on Thursday, Oct. 12. Trump faces an Oct. 15 deadline to notify Congress whether Iran is still complying with the nuclear accord and that the deal serves American interests. According to reports, the address is to say Tehran is not complying, but it is up to Congress to decide whether to impose new sanctions.
On Oct. 6, Reuters reported President Trump approved the sale to Saudi Arabia of its advanced Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) missile defense system.
On Oct. 8, Iran warns Washington against imposing further sanctions. Iran warned the Trump Administration and the Congress against designating its Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist group and said U.S. regional military bases would be at risk if further sanctions were passed.
On the same day, the chief commander of the IRGC spelled out the above warning, saying Iran will treat U.S. troops like Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists, who will have to move our military bases farther from Iran’s borders if Congress imposes sanctions against the IRGC.
Clashing News about the Nuclear Deal
There are contradictory signals from the Trump administration about the Iran deal. As a candidate, he denounced it as the worst ever negotiated. But Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to House Speaker Paul Ryan on Apr. 18 that Iran is compliant through that date with its commitments under the JCPOA. Tillerson also raised concerns about Iran’s role as a state sponsor of terrorism.
The Secretary recited a litany of misdeeds by Tehran: “Iran continues to support the brutal Assad regime in Syria, prolonging a conflict that has killed approximately half a million Syrians and displaced millions more. Iran supports the Assad regime, even as it commits atrocities against its own people, including with chemical weapons. Iran provides arms, financing, and training, and funnels foreign fighters into Syria. It has also sent members of the Iran Revolutionary Guard to take part in direct combat operations.”
Tillerson alerted Congress that Trump directed the National Security Council to evaluate whether continuing to lift sanctions would be in U.S. national security interests. Specifically, the Secretary stated, “Iran remains a leading state sponsor of terror, through many platforms and methods. President Donald J. Trump has directed a National Security Council-led interagency review of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action that evaluated whether suspension of sanctions related to Iran pursuant to the JCPOA is vital to the national security interests of the United States.” In his address on Iran policy, Trump is providing a rationale for changing policy.
In addition to terrorism, there is the issue of ballistic missiles. In exchange for Tehran’s agreement to the nuclear deal, Obama granted Iran flexibility for ballistic missile testing. UNSCR 2231 certified the nuclear deal, replacing a strict prohibition with accommodating language: “Iran is called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
Press Conference, Apr. 21, 2017
Attending a news conference and being a close follower of nuclear revelations by Iranian dissidents, yours truly can attest the information presented appeared to be valid. Press coverage was very broad, indicative of seriousness the media considered the disclosures. The following reports already appeared on the evening of the revelations, including, e.g., Fox News; Washington Times; Forbes; and American Military News. Journalists attending were those from the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and several others. TV channels sent crews to tape the revelations, including CNN and Fox.
So, which group made the revelations? The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) made the allegations and drew upon its extensive network in Iran to obtain the information presented on Apr. 21. The intelligence demonstrated there is a secret “nerve center” of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons project. It is responsible for designing the Bomb, and this nerve center has been continuing its work, even after the Aug. 2015 the nuclear deal. There is a new location linked to the nuclear weapons project, and it has been kept secret until now, away from the prying eyes of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors.
The Way Forward
As stated above, there is a need to fix the gap in the nuclear deal — which offers no agreed-upon penalties for Iranian violations of the deal’s terms, short of the last-resort punishment of a “snapback” of U.N. sanctions against Iran — as Rob Satloff, executive director of the Washington Institute, proposed in August of 2015.
Iran’s weaponization program must be totally dismantled; there needs to be airtight control over all aspects of Tehran’s nuclear program and permanent, unhindered and immediate access to all sites and access to and interviews with key nuclear experts; and all outstanding questions regarding possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program need to be followed up to expose the full scope of the nuclear weapons program.
Finally, regarding the intersection of national security and domestic politics, the issues posed by the Iran deal are inherently “political.” The stakes are too high to be ignored by the stakeholders. President Trump is all-in for a win, as his 200th Day in office passed. Former President Obama wanted to maintain one of his legacy achievements in the Oval Office. Congress asserted its prerogatives as an equal to the executive branch, and fourth estate holds both Capitol Hill and the president accountable to the people. So, you might say, national security is inherently political.
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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