Iran: The Case for Decertification

Reports are that President Trump will “decertify” the nuclear deal with Iran.  This is long over due for a deal that never should have been reached.  The deal worked out with Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama is the ultimate in kicking the can down the road, something at which American politicians–and presidents–have become very adept–read North Korea.

According to the agreement, Iran agreed to eliminate 98% of its existing stock of enriched Uranium; the renovation of its Arak plutonium facility to a “Heavy Water Research Reactor”; Natanz remaining as the sole enrichment facility–though Uranium can only be enriched to 3.67%; Fordow, the underground enrichment facility, being converted to a “nuclear, physics and technology centre;” and, their reduction in the number of their centrifuges to just under 5,100 of an older model; and, they would not pursue a nuclear weapon for a ten year period.  They also agreed to inspections–with a 24 day notice requirement!

In exchange, the United States and its European allies agreed to immediately lift all economic sanctions.  Estimates vary as to just how much immediate relief Iran received from this but estimates have ranged to as much as $150 billion–in immediate relief.  Add to this that Iran was losing somewhere between $4 billion and $8 billion every month in petroleum exports due to the sanctions.  If Iran failed to comply in any way, President Obama repeatedly cited that the agreement had a “snap back” provision whereby all of the sanctions could be introduced once again.  Anyone who believes that sanctions such as these–and remember, the US and its allies also lost billions due to these sanctions–once lifted would be immediately “snapped back” is delusional.

There’s two things missing here:  The deal does not prevent Iran from getting a nuclear weapon–it only delays it (now, at roughly another 8 years).  Secondly, Iran continues to pursue its ballistic missile program.  Regarding the nuclear program, even if Iran complied with everything in the agreement–and that’s a big IF–nothing prevents them from working with North Korea in their development of a nuclear weapon–and, according to Major General Robert Scales, former commandant of the Army War College, “we know that the Iranians are helping the North Koreans miniaturize their nuclear weapons.”  General Scales went on to say that Iran is essentially using North Korea as its own test facility.  (See Anthony Cordesman’s article here for General Scales comments.)

Secondly, and this is equally important, Iran has continued to pursue its ballistic missile program.  The obvious question here is why?  A complex and expensive ballistic missile program is not needed for the delivery of conventional munitions–there are much simpler, and far cheaper, means of delivering munitions, even at targets as distant as Israel, than continued work on ballistic missiles.  Indeed, Israel remains Iran’s prime target–and Iran has a fair amount of support for that amongst Israel’s neighboring countries.  So, the obvious question, then, is what is the purpose of Iran’s ballistic missile program, if not for the delivery of a nuclear warhead in the not too distant future?

If Major General Scales is correct in that North Korea is serving as the testing grounds for Iran’s nuclear ambitions, and if Iranian scientists are actively helping the NORKs miniaturize a nuclear warhead, the implications of this demand immediate action–either that or accepting the notion that both North Korea and Iran will be nuclear states with the ability to deliver a nuclear warhead, literally several thousand miles away.

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