Trump Puts Iran on Notice about Its Belligerent Behavior
By John Ubaldi
Contributor, In Homeland Security
With all the turmoil over North Korea and its nuclear ambitions, President Trump and his administration put Iran on notice, warning that Iran’s bellicose behavior will not be tolerated.
Trump said the most contentious issue was the Iran nuclear deal signed by President Obama, the five members of the United Nations Security Council, Germany and the European Union in July 2015. Under terms of the nuclear deal, Iran suspended its nuclear enrichment program in exchange for the U.S. lifting sanctions against Tehran.
Trump Criticizes Iran Nuclear Deal
Last Thursday at a news conference Trump stated, “[Iran is] not living up to the spirit of the nuclear agreement, I can tell you that.” But the President cited no specific violations. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presaged Trump’s rhetoric with a forceful statement about Iran’s behavior.
In remarks at the State Department Treaty Room one day earlier, Tillerson acknowledged that Iran was making good on its commitment under the agreement. But he also added that Trump has nevertheless ordered a review of the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
Under JCPOA, the State Department must notify Congress every 90 days whether Iran is in compliance. This was the first JCPOA report to Congress by the Trump administration.
Tillerson Calls Nuclear Deal ‘Same Failed Approach’ as North Korea
After submitting his report to Congress, Tillerson told reporters, “The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) fails to achieve the objective of a non-nuclear Iran; it only delays their goal of becoming a nuclear state. This deal represents the same failed approach of the past that brought us to the current imminent threat we face from North Korea. The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran.”
This report coincided with a report by the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The report says that Tehran is working on triggering devices and high explosives at its top-secret Parchin military complex.
Inspectors were supposed to review the Parchin facility before any agreement was signed. But then-Secretary of State John Kerry and President Obama agreed not to inspect that facility. Other nuclear facilities, however, are subject to constant monitoring.
Opponents say the agreement was flawed from the beginning. It allows Iran to inspect its own nuclear facilities and certify that they are in compliance with the agreement.
Obama Agrees to Flawed Nuclear Deal
In theory, the Iranians are in compliance with the nuclear agreement, which contains a fatal flaw. The Obama administration spent the entire time negotiating and focusing on the fissile material that is the enrichment of uranium. The U.S. never focused on the nuclear weapons components or Iran’s ability to deliver a nuclear device via a ballistic missile. Anyone should be able to see the connection between nuclear weapons and their delivery via ballistic missiles.
In October 2016, Lawrence J. Haas, a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, reported in US News and World Report that Obama agreed to the United Nations lifting its sanctions against two Iranian state banks. These banks financed Iran’s ballistic missile development. Haas said that “puts the lie to Washington’s claims – stubbornly maintained for more than a year – that it was determined to rein in the Islamic Republic’s expanding missile program.”
The Obama administration’s pattern of backtracking on limiting Iran’s ballistic missile program seems to pre-date the controversial nuclear agreement.
In Theory, Iran Is in Violation of the Nuclear Agreement
Iran has tested ballistic missiles ever since the agreement was signed, always with a muted response from the United States.
In theory, Iran is in violation of the spirit of the agreement because Tehran is still developing a ballistic missile and working on the explosive element. In five years, Iran will resume developing the fissile element. Upon its completion, Tehran will have a nuclear missile and the means to deliver it.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Trump called the Iran agreement one of the worst agreements ever negotiated and he promised to rip it up. But if the U.S. pulls out of the nuclear agreement, the U.S. would be isolated and Iran would resume production. And with the sanctions lifted, Iran would be flush with cash.
US Isolated over Iran Nuclear Deal
Washington can impose its own sanctions, but the U.S. would be alone. Russia, China and the European Union would refuse to go along with the sanctions.
The Obama administration focused entirely on the nuclear agreement, but ignored Iran’s involvement throughout the region. The U.S. rewarded Tehran’s bellicose behavior by lifting the sanctions and unfreezing its assets. This behavior gave Iran billions in additional revenue to fund the terrorist organization Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad.
As Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters, “Everywhere you look, if there’s trouble in the region, you find Iran. Mattis added, “Right now, what we’re seeing is the nations in the region and others elsewhere trying to checkmate Iran, and the amount of disruption and the amount of instability they can cause.”
In about five years, Iran will have a nuclear device. So, instead of curbing nuclear proliferation, the Iran agreement increases the odds that Iran, like North Korea, will have a nuclear missile – and might use it.