Apr 20 President Donald Trump said today that Iran is “not living up to the spirit” of the nuclear deal signed in 2015 under President Obama, just two days after Trump’s administration reported that Iran was complying with the requirements laid out in the landmark agreement.
As I write these words, the Iranian nuclear agreement that was brokered by the Obama administration is sitting on President Trump’s desk. It requires presidential certification of compliance every 90 days, and the president is deliberating on whether or not to certify.
My answer is an emphatic, unqualified, and resounding “No”.
Firstly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear regulatory agency, has already certified that Iran has been out of compliance with the deal. The most recent IAEA report specifies that Iran has already exceeded its limit of heavy water under the agreement. Heavy water can use unrefined uranium as a fuel, shortcutting the expensive process of enriching uranium to rapidly produce a nuclear bomb. This is happening, as we speak, in Arak.
Beyond that, since the deal was struck in July of 2015, Iran has conducted as many as 14 missile tests, in brazen defiance of UN Resolution 2231.
Then there is the process of verification, which is inherently flawed. Anything that Iran deems as a “military site” is, according to Iranian leadership, off limits to inspectors. These include those “military sites” which we don’t even know about. That means that the IAEA’s means of obtaining critically important information is via a letter certifying compliance written by the government of Iran. That is akin to releasing murderers and rapists from prison and having them certify in a letter that they are no longer committing murder and rape.
And the Iranians gave their own soil samples from Parchin, where explosive nuclear tests took place. Senator Jim Risch of Idaho compared this to the NFL allowing a football player to mail in his own urine samples as part of a drug test.
Thanks to Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas and CIA Director and former Congressman Mike Pompeo, we now know of the existence of multiple secret side deals made with the Iranian regime.
We know that the deal was not even allowed to be voted upon as a treaty because Mr. Obama made an end-run around the U.S. Constitution, as well as around the Congress, by going first to the UN, and then presenting it to Congress as a fait accompli.
We also know that the deal that the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, voted on, was more than 1000 pages long, while the agreement that we saw in the United States was only 159 pages long.
The reason the agreement is so utterly flawed is that President Obama was hell-bent on securing this deal as his foreign policy legacy. He basically refused to acknowledge the Iranian government for what it is: an apocalyptic, messianic regime that believes that destroying Israel and America will bring about the coming of the 12th Imam, (the Shia Messiah). Equipping this sort of regime with nuclear weapons presents a clear and present danger to the survival of the United States, Israel, and to the Sunni Arab nations, as well as much of Europe.
We recall that President Obama began his first administration on an apology tour to the Muslim world, and had a difficult time articulating a belief in American exceptionalism. And we know that even until his last day in office, Obama vehemently refused to articulate that radical Islamic terrorism exists.
Mr. Obama and his ilk sees all the worlds actors as morally equal. There is no distinction between those who would obliterate entire innocent populations so that their theology or political entity would reign supreme, and those who would never even entertain such a thought. Such a world view makes one incapable of acknowledging that certain nations, such as the United States, Israel, Britain, etc., are morally capable of possessing a nuclear bomb, because they are responsible enough to use it only for morally correct reasons, and other nations, like Iran, are not.
We know that the Obama administration had absolutely no qualms about deceiving the American people about Iran’s intentions. We recall that Obama’s Deputy National Security Advisor, Ben Rhodes, in a May 5, 2016 article in the New York Times magazine, openly boasted of manufacturing the belief that Iran’s new leadership was more “moderate,” and thus willing to make, and keep, a nuclear deal with the U.S. and the West.
Since the deal was negotiated, the Iranians have received more than 100 billion dollars in unfrozen assets, and the regime has been further enriched by corpulent, lucrative deals since the sanctions have been lifted. This has been used, in good part, to enrich and empower Iran, and to help the Islamic Republic destabilize the globe in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, and in Saudi Arabia.
We have long known that Iran is the world’s leading state sponsor of global terrorism through its support of Hizb’allah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and at times, even Al Qaeda.
By certifying that the Iranians have been in compliance, the United States will be continuing the Obama administration’s policy of willful blindness combined with grand deception about the Iranian regime and its destructive behavior.
We are now witnessing how North Korea’s possession of a nuclear bomb is allowing them to threaten its neighbors, Japan and South Korea, with almost total impunity. We now have a tiny window of opportunity to prevent this from happening with Iran. President Trump should seize this opportunity and refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the nuclear deal.
We can’t afford another rogue regime able to threaten the world with nuclear weapons.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, EMET, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, DC