11 July 2019

NOTE FROM NORM: Iran, Told You So!

The Obama Administration’s obsession with a deal – any deal – with Iran led to its ill-fated decision to agree to a plan in 2015 it touted as preventing the rogue nation from achieving its dream of achieving a nuclear bomb.

Today, critics of that deal, including myself, are doing our best to refrain from saying “I told you so!”

As the New York Times reported this week  “The International Atomic Energy Agency confirmed….Iran had resumed enriching uranium to higher levels than permitted under a 2015 accord with the United States and other world powers. The step inches Tehran closer to having the capacity to build a nuclear bomb.”

Despite the efforts of critics, including myself, the Obama Administration and its Democratic allies in the Senate and the House, succeeded preventing the deal from being killed in 2015.

And, now, all of the fears and concerns we had about Iran doing exactly what they are doing have come to pass.

The Iran we warned the Obama Administration about in 2015 is the same Iran we are dealing with in 2019.

Except now they have more enriched uranium – expanded their conventional military capacity – and have continued to find ways to foment instability and unrest in the neighborhood.

Obama refused to deal with many of the underlying issues which made Iran a bad partner to negotiate with to begin with – it’s support for terror groups, it’s commitment to the destruction of Israel, an aggressive ballistic missile program and it’s bad behavior in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and a host of other places throughout the world.

Not to mention that the Pentagon estimates that Iran’s support of militias in Iraq resulted in the death of more than 600 American soldiers.

The same Obama Administration officials and allies will claim that the decision by the Trump Administration to reject the 2015 agreement has brought us now to the place we are at.

Not true.  Not even close to being true.

Iran was going to continue to enrich uranium to the point of crossing the threshold of what was permitted.

Why wouldn’t they?

Who, now, is prepared to stop them from what they have achieved thus far, and what they will do in the days, weeks and months ahead?

The Trump Administration has increased economic pressure on Iran – rightfully so.

European nations that sided with the Obama Administration on the agreement are now increasingly finding themselves having to determine their next step.

Will they attempt to renegotiate a different deal with Iran?  If so, what is the incentive for Iran to bother doing so?

More importantly, even if they did agree to a new deal, why should anybody trust Iran 2019 anymore than Iran 2015?

Iran has made it clearer that they are prepared to be as belligerent as possible.

Shooting down an American drone – strong evidence that Iran was involved in attacks on two tankers in the Gulf of Oman – and violating key provisions of the 2015 nuclear agreement – all point to evidence that Iran is itching for a fight.

Iran is stronger economically today than they were in 2015 thanks to gaining access to more than $100 billion in assets as well as being able to resume selling oil in international markets and being able to access the global financial system for trade as a result of the nuclear accord.

Whether it can survive a prolonged fight with the United States and its allies its leaders are no doubt assessing.

But, as Mark Dubowitz, the leader of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, states in the New York Times, “What we are facing is a looming confrontation with Iran that is escalating across multiple vectors….But we were going to face the same confrontation eventually, and my view is that you are better off confronting a weakened Iran today than a stronger Iran tomorrow.”

Under no circumstances can the world accept Iran as a nuclear power.

How the world prevents them from becoming one requires governments, including our own, to be firm in their resolve that every effort, short of military conflict, must be on the table.

Tough economic sanctions and aggressive diplomatic engagement are critical tools that must be used to convince Iran that there is a better path forward than the one they are on now.

But, allowing Iran to play the U.S. off against allies so they have more time to develop a nuclear bomb cannot be a path that anyone agrees to take.