Over the next 4 years, Iran stayed at the top of the US State Department list as a global sponsor of terrorism. Here are a few facts:
- On June 19th, the State Department released its latest global report on terrorism noting that global terrorism surged 35% in 2014 citing that Iran’s sponsorship or terrorism had not diminished.
- Iran provoked a revolt in Yemen by sending weapons and fighters to support the conflict. Saudi Arabia responds by supporting the standing Yemeni government. The United States mostly stood by and watched.
- March 23rd 2015 – New York Post reports Iran’s supreme leader chants death to America amid on going nuclear talks.
- In 2015 Iran jailed the Washington Post bureau chief, Jason Rezaian on charges of espionage.
During Obama’s presidency, Iran has changed. It is emboldened in both rhetoric and action. Once the Security Council sanctions are removed, we will see a very different Middle East.
Russia, Iran’s one friend on the Security Council, is eager for the sanctions to be dropped. Putin is salivating at the thought of being able to sell new surface to air missile systems to Iran which will make it extremely difficult to strike Iranian nuclear targets if Iran does not comply with the treaty. In April, Russia announced it was ending its ban on sales of its surface to air missiles to Iran.
Noga Tarnopolsky points out in a Reuters blog post on April 16th that once in place, the new missiles systems would make it extremely difficult for the US or Isreal to strike targets in Iran in the event Iran continues to build its nuclear program. New surface to air missiles will provide enough daylight for Iran to finish building a nuclear weapon causing an arms race in the Middle East. If not, flaws in the treaty may provide the cover needed to continue research.
Flaws in the Treaty
The president held an hour and a half press conference after the announcement of the treaty to field questions. The monitoring standard for inspectors is “anytime, anywhere” only applies to declared nuclear sites. It does not cover suspected military sites or other areas that are not declared as nuclear facilities. The agreement allows Iran 14 days to comply with the requests. If it does not, the eight parties to the agreement will have seven days to act, and Iran would then have three more days to comply. The Wall Street Journal points out in an article by William Tobey this is a full 24 days to move, destroy or hide evidence.
Iran will not be able to build any new uranium-enrichment facilities for fifteen years. It will also not be permitted to built any new heavy water reactors for 15 years, but this falls short of banning Iran from building two essential components for nuclear weapons in the long term. Instead, Obama has settled for a short term patch to the problem. Additionally, the treaty allows Iran to actively use over 5000 of its centrifuges while keeping close to another 1000 in reserve. It also limits, but does not eliminate Iran’s ability to research more complex centrifuges that can produce uranium faster for eight years. This gives the green light for any nation in the world to build centrifuges, including other nations in the Middle East.
Finally, the United States will release billions of dollars of Iranian investments to Iran. This does not limit Iran from using these assets to support terrorism around the world including proxy wars in Yemen and Africa. Over the weekend, the Supreme Leader of Iran, Khamanei, indicated they will still support actions in Yemen, Syria, Iraq and other nations in support of Iran’s overall objective of spreading its form of Islam worldwide.
Think of it as a terrorist cash infusion allowing Iran to funnel money to support its uprising in Yemen, fund Hizballah, or fund terrorism in other areas of the world. In the end, this could be a win/win for Iran by providing the cash infusion it wants now to spread terrorism and shore up its home front while supplying a window for preparing a final push for a nuclear weapon by simply abandoning the treaty when they are ready. Even if sanctions are reapplied, Iran wins at the expense of the US.
Interestingly, John Kerry indicated the US will lose all credibility if Congress does not advance the deal, and the Obama has doubled down on this treaty by taking his case to the United Nations first. Without the consent of Congress, the president has pushed through the relaxation of sanctions by the United Nations. This is problematic.
If Congress does not pass the treaty, it is unlikely in any event that the United Nations will reinstate sanctions leaving Iran with the sanctions lifted and no repercussions. Reinstating the sanctions will be difficult or impossible under this scenario. The President is using this tactic to force Congress to pass a treaty that may not be approved otherwise. Although this approach isn’t unconstitutional, it is in effect giving Congress little choice. The pressure is there for Congress to pass the treaty, but the end effect will be disastrous.
Obama views the Middle East more and more as not a problem of the US. This is evident as ISIS grows stronger, and Iran continues to support its national interests in the region. Obama is looking for his signature foreign policy statement to leave a legacy for his presidency at the expense of security at home and abroad. Iran gave Obama lip service to peace while shouting, “Death to America.”
The President ignores the behaviors of a terrorist nation and also the effects this treaty will have on dealing with other nuclear upstarts around the world. Obama expects Iran to comply with this treaty. Based on its activities in the region and around the world, its questionable if Iran will hold up its side of the treaty. Although the treaty is being praised by the media, Iran’s current support of terrorism, rhetoric against the United States, and proxy wars in Yemen and Africa leave little proof that they will fully comply with the agreement and try to hide efforts to research and develop weapons.