Perhaps just as stunning as the Mossad’s ability to smuggle 100,000 documents out of Iran right under the nose of the Islamic regime is the response to Netanyahu’s presentation from the pro-Iran Left. Liberals, including Iran’s favorite senator, Bob Corker, are asserting that while Netanyahu showed evidence of Iran’s past development of nuclear weapons, he didn’t provide evidence that the regime is still producing them in violation of the deal. And in fact, in their estimation, this is why we needed the Iran deal.
Iran can’t produce nuclear weapons … in places where it was never developing them
Proponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) are obfuscating the central point of Israel’s discovery. The main flaw of the Iran deal was that all along, most suspected that Iran already had an entrenched, clandestine program run underground and through military facilities and had long closed up shop in the revealed facilities that were a part of the inspection plan of the agreement. Netanyahu proved conclusively that not only did this program exist, it changed names and locations and was continued under the same leadership as late as 2015. Why in the world would anyone believe that Iran would suddenly suspend a program that was undetected by the Iran deal and not subjected to restrictions?
Just last week, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, an ardent proponent of the Iran deal, foolishly said, “The verification, what is in there, is actually pretty robust as far as our intrusive ability to get in.” Yeah, we can get into the sites where they are not developing the weapons.
The entire point of the Iran deal, from Iran’s vantage point, was to continue developing the clandestine program, now buttressed by the tens of billions in new revenue, so that once the deal expires, Iran can break out the program and continue it openly. Even in the public inspection sites, Iran is allowed to continue developing more advanced centrifuges than it already has. And meanwhile, the regime can continue to openly develop its ICBM program while continuing its clandestine program on nuclear warheads, then merging, at the end of the decade, the continued growth of the infrastructure in the public sites with the nuclear material from the clandestine sites – all without even breaching the deal.
Ironically, it was now-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, along with Sen. Tom Cotton, who exposed the side deal Iran secured with Obama to keep any process for inspection of their secretive Parchin military complex and issues related to the broader military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program classified from any U.S. officials. This was a direct violation of the Corker-Cardin bill, which required the administration to provide Congress with all information and documents, including the details of side deals. Yet GOP leaders never held Obama to it.
We also now know that the nuclear program was originally based, in part, in the Fordo facility, which was kept restricted from weapons inspectors. As late as 2012, Obama said, “We know they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility like Fordo in order to have a peaceful program.” Yet the Iranians insisted they never pursued a nuclear weapons program there.
Not only did the Iran deal allow the Iranians to maintain their heavy-water reactor in Arak, it promised that the parties to the deal would purchase their excess heavy water for profit. In January 2017, the AP reported that Russia shipped Iran 116 metric tons of natural uranium, enough to enrich weapons-grade uranium for nuclear bombs. The AP’s sources revealed that the Russian shipment was in exchange for 40 metric tons of heavy water used as coolant for nuclear reactors. The problem is that Iran’s production of so much heavy water is in itself a violation of the nuclear deal. However, a loophole in the agreement allows Iran to sell off its heavy water in excess of 130 metric tons on the international market. Obama rewarded Iranian bad behavior by purchasing the heavy water, which allowed Iran to take the scam a step further by deliberately producing more heavy water than allowed under the agreement and then benefiting from the violation by using it to … purchase uranium!
Thus, the entire Iran deal from day one was a lie, because it was designed to ensure that Iran gets nuclear weapons.
The Iran deal is the problem. There’s nothing to “fix”
Now that it is clear they lied about never pursuing a program, the Iranians are obligated to demonstrate that this program we now know existed was indeed discontinued since 2015. The lack of disclosure alone is a breach of the agreement. Iran was building, developing, and testing nuclear warheads at the very military facilities that were kept off-limits to the inspections regime. Game over. There is no Iran deal unless Iran demonstrates that the programs Israel unearthed have been destroyed.
Netanyahu likely declined to withhold the juicy details about the ongoing nuclear activities since 2015 because he doesn’t want to tip off the Iranians about any plans Israel might have to launch a strike inside Iran’s territory. However, now that it is clear such a program exists, it is the nuclear deal that prevents us from destroying it. By definition, it can’t be working to prevent them from developing weapons, because Iran never ceased the program.
It is therefore a no-brainer for Trump to follow his instincts, not some cabinet members and the Europeans who want to “fix” the deal before it’s too late to act.
One of the overlooked aspects of the deal is Article 10 of Annex III, which would obligate us to help protect Iran’s program against sabotage, presumably from Israel. Just last month, the European Union put out a statement celebrating “the implementation of Annex III of the JCPOA on civil-nuclear cooperation,” and “welcomed in this context the work done by a number of participants with Iran.”
What exactly is it that the Europeans and possibly our own government have been doing to “cooperate” with Iran on its nuclear program? On April 25, Sens. Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio sent a letter to the State Department seeking clarity on the meaning of this discussion in light of the fact that the Obama administration never explained the scope of cooperation required under the agreement and whether it would force us to protect Iran from an Israeli attack. They sought clarification on what is entailed in “civil-nuclear cooperation” and what our government, as well as France, United Kingdom, China, Germany, China, and Russia, has already done to fulfill this obligation.
However, if Trump does the right thing and terminates this agreement, this point will be moot. The single best leverage is the re-imposition of sanctions on Iran’s oil industry. Section 4.3.1 of Annex II forced us to refrain from “efforts to reduce Iran’s crude oil sales, including limitations on the quantities of Iranian crude oil sold and the nations that can purchase Iranian crude oil.” Congress should back up Trump by immediately slapping a new round of energy sanctions on Iran to choke off its terrorism windfall from the deal. Unfortunately, many establishment Republicans, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Mac Thornberry, have grown weak on the issue.
It’s time to completely change our strategic alliances in the Middle East
In addition to the official Iran deal, Obama realigned our alliances to comport with Iran in almost every theater. Trump has changed course on many of those policies, but not on everything. Here are the changes that must be made:
Finally, let’s not forget that, unlike most other Islamic terror groups, Iranian-backed Hezbollah poses a direct homeland security threat because of its presence in Latin America. Hezbollah serves as specialty smugglers for Middle Easterners sneaking through our border and empowers the drug cartels, killing thousands of Americans. We must expand every tool to sanction Hezbollah that was cut off during the Obama era to foster the Iran deal. Of course, choking off Iran will be bad for business in the narco-terror field and good for our communities.
Nowhere does Trump have the opportunity to right the ship from the Obama years more than in Iran. We must end Obama’s de facto alliance with the rogue regime. Most of it can be done unilaterally without Congress.
Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.