By Rovvy Lepor
January 11, 2018-- President Trump has until January 12 to decide whether to terminate or "fix" the Iran nuclear deal (aka the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA). Iran has proven to be eminently untrustworthy and unfaithful to the expectations of this deal. Canceling the JCPOA would mitigate serious risks to the future national security of the USA and the international community, while "fixing" it allows Iran to clandestinely move forward with research and development on its nuclear weapons program with the extra funds it enjoys free of sanctions. It is essential for President Trump to cancel this disastrous deal, effective immediately.
Influential voices in the White House, including secretary of state Rex Tillerson, defense secretary James Mattis, and national security adviser H.R. McMaster, have recommended that President Trump "fix" the Iran nuclear deal rather than cancel it. However, one option to "fix" the deal "is removing the requirement that Trump certify Iranian compliance" or, alternatively, "changing the law so certification occurs far less often." This is meant as a "face-saving fix" for President Trump, who "loathes having to give a thumbs-up to Iran every three months."
Tillerson told the AP that "the president said he is either going to fix it or cancel it," adding, "[W]e are in the process of trying to deliver on the promise he made to fix it." According to the AP, "while the talks involving the White House, the State Department, and Congress wouldn't increase restrictions on Iran's nuclear activity, as Trump also wants, they could strengthen the way the U.S. enforces the agreement, perhaps persuading Trump that it's worthwhile for the U.S. to stay in it." In effect, the touted "fix" is a misnomer that does nothing practical to change JCPOA substantively, but simply limits President Trump's authority to review the deal and so far offers no specifics on how to strengthen enforcement.
In his speech on October 13, 2017, President Trump refused to certify the Iran nuclear deal, saying, "[I]n the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, then the agreement will be terminated." A true fix to the Iran nuclear deal cannot be achieved due to serious Iranian violations. The Iranian regime is inherently and consistently untrustworthy, as proven from the history of work on Iran's illicit nuclear weapons program, blocking access to all military sites suspected of being part of the program, and far-reaching and enduring support of terrorism.
In addition to Iran's support for terrorism and advancement of its ballistic missile program, much evidence exists that Iran is using the JCPOA as a cover for its nuclear weapons program rather than its supposed purpose as a hindrance to nuclear weapons capability.
The following constitute some of Iran's nuclear related violations and probable violations.
Iranian military nuclear sites free of inspection
On June 24, 2015, Ayatollah Khamenei stated that "no inspection of military sites can ever be done." Reaffirming this sentiment in August 2017, Iranian government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht stated that "Iran's military sites are off limits," noting that "all information about these sites [is] classified. Iran will never allow such visits."
Notwithstanding serious concerns about nuclear weapons work done at a number of Iranian military sites, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sees no need to visit Iranian military sites.
In September 2017, the IAEA admitted that it doesn't have oversight over Section T of the JCPOA. Section T is titled "Activities Which Could Contribute to the Design and Development of a Nuclear Explosive Device." The IAEA therefore could not verify that Iran was "fully implementing the agreement."
In addition, according to an October 2017 report released by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), there is a high degree of confidence that four new military sites "involved in various aspects of the nuclear weapons program" along with two headquarters are operating in Iran free of inspection. These six sites operate in violation of the JCPOA and remain off-limits to IAEA inspection.
Illegal nuclear procurement
In 2016, Iran made at least 32 attempts to procure illegal nuclear technology in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, according to a German intelligence report. According to the report, the attempted procurements "definitely or with high likelihood were undertaken for the benefit of proliferation program." This follows a previous report alleging Iran's "clandestine" efforts to seek equipment and technology, "especially goods that can be used in the field of nuclear technology" from German companies "at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level." The report adds that "it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives."
The implementation of the JCPOA does not seem to have affected this pursuit. According to Hamburg's intelligence agency, "there is no evidence of a complete about-face in Iran's atomic policies in 2016." And an intelligence report from Germany's southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg notes that Iran sought "products and scientific knowhow for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well as missile technology."
Iran never committed to the JCPOA
The Iranian government never accepted the same nuclear deal that the P5+1 accepted in the JCPOA.
Iran may already have nuclear weapons
In a 2015 article, Dr. Peter Vincent Pry, an expert in national security matters, provides evidence from an IAEA report that strongly indicates that Iran already has nuclear weapons.
Iran procured equipment necessary for nuclear weapon development[;] ... conducted hydrodynamic experiments that, according to the IAEA report[,] "are strong indicators of possible weapon development[;]" ... cast and shaped uranium metal into hemispheres for a nuclear implosion device (a sophisticated nuclear weapon design)[;] ... [and] verified the design of a nuclear weapon with non-fissile explosive testing in a containment chamber[.] ... During the WWII Manhattan Project, at this stage the U.S. was 16 months from the bomb[.] ... Iran developed and tested exploding bridge wire detonators, necessary to an implosion nuclear weapon. During the WWII Manhattan Project, at this stage the U.S. was 6 months from the bomb[.] ... Iran manufactured neutron initiators which are used to start a fission chain-reaction in a nuclear weapon[.] ... Iran drafted 14 different workable designs for a nuclear weapon to fit inside the re-entry vehicle for the high-explosive [H.E.] warhead of Iran's Shahab-3 medium-range missile[.] ... Iran developed fusing systems for a nuclear missile warhead to perform a ground-burst or high-altitude burst above 3,000 meters.
The Iran nuclear deal cannot be rehabilitated. The Iranian regime has repeatedly proven itself untrustworthy and consistently seeks to use subterfuge to bypass the nuclear deal while moving forward on its dangerous nuclear weapons program. Illegal procurement of components for the nuclear program, nuclear sites that are off-limits, lack of commitment to the JCPOA, and substantial advancements in the nuclear program all demonstrate that the Iran nuclear deal provides sanctions relief and much needed capital and cover for Iran's nuclear advances.
The so-called "fix" appears to be mainly an attempt to lull President Trump out of his inclination, and even authority, to oppose the Iran nuclear deal. The deal must be scrapped – the sooner, the better.