Small Wars Journal

Explaining the Obama Administration Overlooking Iran’s Cheating on the Nuke Deal

Thu, 08/18/2016 - 10:47am

Explaining the Obama Administration Overlooking Iran’s Cheating on the Nuke Deal

Masoud Kazemzadeh

The Obama administration official in charge of monitoring Iran’s implementation of the nuclear agreement, Ambassador Stephen Mull, testified in Congress that Iran has fully complied with the agreement.  Unfortunately, his testimony does not appear to be the truth.

The agreement explicitly requires that Iran acquire all nuclear related materials through a channel established for such purpose.  Two official reports released by German intelligence agencies in June present explicit evidence that Iran repeatedly has violated its commitments.  The German federal internal security agency (BfV), released its annual report, which states Iran’s : “illegal proliferation-sensitive procurement activities in Germany registered by the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution persisted in 2015 at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level.  This holds true in particular with regard to items which can be used in the field of nuclear technology.”

The German intelligence body in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia, added that during 2015, Iran had made 141 attempts on purchasing nuclear and missile technologies; “Ninety” of which were attempts to “procure technology that could be used for the development of nuclear weapons and launchers.”  German intelligence states that they succeeded in thwarting about 90 percent of Iran’s attempts.  In 2014, Iran had made 83 similar attempts, which the BfV states indicates a major increase in Iran’s illegal activities after the nuclear agreement was reached.  The German intelligence further states that these illegal procurements were usually made “by Iranian strawmen and shell companies through China, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.”  The above revelations are what the German intelligence discovered.  There might be many more that it did not.

The Institute for Science and International Security has released a report about Iran stating that Iran has made attempts to procure tons of carbon fiber, an item used for building centrifuge rotors.  Iran already has sufficient amounts for several years for its centrifuges under the parameters of the nuclear agreement.  This violation may indicate that Iran may have a clandestine program for the manufacture of centrifuges so that it can enrich uranium outside the purview of the IAEA.

The IAEA test results of samples taken from the Parchin military site in fall 2015 showed the presence of “chemically man-made particles of natural uranium.”  For American officials this was evidence of experimentation related to nuclear bomb.  However, neither the IAEA nor the P5+1 is pressing for taking more samples or visits by the IAEA inspectors.  This is highly significant because Iran had refused for more than two years repeated requests by the IAEA to visit the site while it was making major modifications to the site.  Further sampling is necessary to conclusively establish the presence of uranium.  The IAEA and the U.S. are not pressing for re-sampling or visits because they fear that Iran would refuse.

The State Department spokesman was in great pain attempting to respond to journalists who asked about some of these revelations.  The beleaguered spokesman kept repeating the talking points that the U.S. does not have any indication that Iran has violated its obligations under the nuclear agreement.  The spectacle was both revealing and funny (well, not to the poor spokesman).

What is clear is that the Iranian regime has continued its clandestine nuclear weapons program despite the agreement reached on July 14, 2015.  This does not come as a surprise to the observers of Iran who understand the regime’s history and its objectives.  What is surprising, however, is the Obama administration’s refusal to acknowledge the truth. 

There might be good reasons for the administration officials to overlook the facts.  First, a public acknowledgement of Iran’s cheatings would unravel the agreement.  Second, the unraveling of the agreement would result in Iran expelling the IAEA inspectors and expedite the nuclear weapons program.  There is not enough time to utilize economic sanctions to stop the break out.  Clearly, the Obama administration lacks credibility in making threats of military strikes after the administration’s refusal to enforce its red lines when Assad used chemical bombs against civilians.  With the evaporation of Obama’s military deterrence, the actual use of military strikes is the only option left to stop Iran’s nuclear bomb, an option President Obama does not wish to use.  Thus, by ignoring Iran’s violations, it is hoped that Iran would proceed slowly which would allow the Obama administration to postpone a forceful response to the next president.  The next president’s threat of force might be the only option other than actual military strikes to convince Ayatollah Khamenei to stop going nuclear. 

President Obama made a huge gamble.  The evidence clearly shows that he lost the gamble.