The Iran Deal
President Trump is facing a looming October 15 deadline mandated by a law requiring the U.S. president to certify every 90 days that Iran is keeping its side of the Obama administration-brokered nuclear agreement and that the deal continues to be “vital to the national security interests of the United States.”
Trump is reportedly leaning toward decertifying the international nuclear deal next week, according to scores of news media accounts in recent days citing administration officials. However, the president faces opposition from senior administration officials who support the U.S. once again certifying the Iran nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
I could quite easily draw up a list of over 100 reasons Trump should decertify the deal, but in the interest of brevity here are six:
1) Iran is the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the world and should not be trusted with even a peaceful nuclear program. Such a program is clearly not in America’s national security interests, even if Iran fully complied with its obligations (which it has not, see below).
Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps has been accused of connections to terrorist organizations like al-Qaida, and it openly works with the Hezbollah terrorist group and numerous deadly Palestinian terror organizations. Hezbollah essentially functions as an Iranian organization.
The Quds Force, the Revolutionary Guards’ unit responsible for “extraterritorial operations,” is rightly designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. Treasury Department, which documents that the Quds Force “provides material support to the Taliban, Lebanese Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command.”
The Quds Force maintains “a long history of supporting Hezbollah’s military, paramilitary and terrorist activities, providing it with guidance, funding, weapons, intelligence and logistical support,” Treasury states.
Iran itself is openly the largest financial benefactor to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group, and has been a major contributor to Hamas and other Palestinian jihadist organizations.
Any country with such open terrorist connections should not be entitled to a “peaceful” nuclear program. Add to the mix Iranian officials’ repeated threats to destroy Israel and numerous warnings targeting the U.S.
2) Even prior to the JCPOA, Iran had a history of cheating on its nuclear program by previously violating the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NTP) as well as numerous United Nations resolutions and international obligations.
A small sampling of Iran’s previous violations include:
- carrying out extensive nuclear work that has no civilian purposes despite its commitment not to do so.
- possessing traces of highly enriched uranium at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant.
- importing parts for advanced centrifuges that could theoretically be utilized to enrich uranium.
- totally ending its cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on February 4, 2006.
- acknowledging that it had carried out uranium conversion experiments without notifying the IAEA.
3) Iran has already been accused of violating the JCPOA.
In a July letter addressed to Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Senators Tom Cotton (R., Ark.), Ted Cruz (R., Texas), David Perdue (R., Ga.) and Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) cited four examples out of many from publicly known reports that indicate Iran has been violating the deal.
National Review summarized those four examples:
One: Operating more advanced uranium-enrichment centrifuges than is permitted and announcing the capability to initiate mass production of centrifuges.
Two: Exceeding limits on production and storage of heavy water, a substance needed to operate plutonium-producing heavy-water nuclear reactors.
Three: Covertly procuring nuclear and missile technology outside of JCPOA-approved channels. There’s direct evidence of this, from German intelligence reports.
Four: Refusing to allow IAEA inspectors access to nuclear-research and military facilities.
4) The IAEA cannot be relied upon to thoroughly inspect Iran’s nuclear sites.
Dr. Olli Heinonen, former deputy director of the IAEA, analyzed data recently released by the organization showing the IAEA’s inspections regime has actually become less intrusive since the nuclear deal was signed.
“A closer examination of the new data suggests there may be aspects of the inspection program that have become less comprehensive and less intrusive since the implementation of the JCPOA (the technical name for the Iran nuclear deal of July 2015,” Heinonen warned in a report for the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank.
In a radio interview with this reporter three weeks ago, Heinonen used data to further question the credibility of the IAEA’s inspection and verification system.
The IAEA has reportedly had trouble checking Iran’s sites.
In one example, Haaretz recently cited Israeli officials revealing that a “Western entity” provided the IAEA last year with information regarding sites that Iran did not officially report as part of its nuclear program and where Tehran is suspected of carrying out activities related to nuclear capabilities, including research and development.
While one such alleged site was a civilian facility, the report stated that Iran did not allow access to other sites, claiming they were military bases.
5) The issue of nuclear inspections is moot given that Iran wont allow inspectors into any military site.
Just a few weeks ago, Ali Shamkhani, Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, once again ruled out any possibility of international access to Iran’s military bases, declaring the issue an “unnecessary and closed case.”
In other words, Iran has total freedom to construct an illicit nuclear program at its military bases.
6) The nuclear agreement perpetually leaves Iran months away from obtaining nuclear weapons.
If Iran decides to abrogate the deal, experts warn the country’s current nuclear program leaves it two to three months (or less, according to some) from the breakout time to assemble nuclear weapons.
President Obama himself conceded that the so-called sunset clause, under which some of the deal’s restrictions eventually expire, means that “the breakout times would have shrunk almost down to zero” when those expirations kick in.