Posted tagged ‘Iranian missiles’

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’

October 18, 2017

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’, Breitbart,  Clare M. Lopez, October 17, 2017

AFP

Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

*****************************

President Donald J. Trump put the Iranian regime on notice with his speech last week: the time when the United States (U.S.) government would turn a blind eye to its decades-long drive for deliverable nuclear weapons is over. Citing a long litany of destabilizing, rogue behavior on the part of Tehran, the president announced he would not re-certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear deal.

That is a necessary and first step, but must be followed up with a clear U.S. strategy for ending Iranian support to Islamic terror proxies and the criminal regime of Syrian Bashar al-Assad, its reckless regional aggression, human rights abuses against its own people, and above all, development of an entire range of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – biological, chemical, and nuclear – as well as the ballistic missiles on which to deliver them.

By making explicit references to “Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program” and “illicit nuclear program,” President Trump acknowledged what many have known for a long time: there has never been a time since 1988, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first ordered his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to “get the bomb,” that Iran has not had a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The world first learned publicly about that illicit program in 2002, when the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) blew the lid off the program with revelations about places whose names are now well-known, including Natanz and Isfahan. Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

One of the most glaring problems with the terms of the JCPOA is that there is no obligatory mechanism under which the Iranian regime is compelled to open facilities to IAEA inspection where it is suspected that nuclear weapons work is being done. Iran’s leadership has made quite clear in numerous public statements that it will never allow inspectors onto military sites it declares off-limits. Unfortunately, this means there is no chance under the terms of the JCPOA for IAEA inspectors ever to clear up the many unresolved “Possible Military Dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program – involving nuclear warhead work, explosive charges to initiate the implosion sequence of a nuclear bomb, and more – that were enumerated in the November 2011 quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program by the IAEA Board of Governors.

On 11 October 2017, the NCRI issued a new report, entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” which reveals four more of the clandestine sites where the Iranian military is conducting nuclear weapons R&D. While Iran’s alarming and destabilizing geo-strategic behavior certainly provides more than enough reason for the president to find the JCPOA not in America’s national security interests, it is the Iranian regime’s blatant violation of the nuclear NPT as well as material breaches of the JCPOA (especially section T, that deals with nuclear warhead work), that fully justify U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal entirely.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles

October 17, 2017

Kerry on Edge as Legacy Crumbles, FrontPage MagazineJoseph Klein, October 17, 2017

Former Secretary of State John Kerry wasted no time condemning President Trump’s decision not to recertify, and to possibly withdraw from, the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran that Kerry negotiated on behalf of his boss Barack Obama. President Trump insisted on significant improvements to the Joint Plan of Comprehensive Action (JCPOA), as the deal is formally known. The JCPOA’s fundamental flaws that President Trump wants fixed include Iran’s ability to block unfettered international inspections, the wiggle room that Iran is exploiting to continue developing and testing ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, and the sunset clause on nuclear enrichment that would provide Iran a clear path to becoming a nuclear armed state after the current restrictions are lifted. Obama and Kerry had promised that these issues would be dealt with satisfactorily before agreeing to the final terms of the JCPOA. Instead they caved to Iranian pressure in order to get the deal done.

Now that President Trump is trying to clean up the mess Obama and Kerry left him, Kerry has the gall to label President Trump’s decision a “reckless abandonment of facts in favor of ego and ideology” and to accuse the Trump administration of “lying to the American people.” It was the Obama administration that recklessly abandoned the facts in pressing ahead with the deal. The Obama administration lied to the American people, abandoning its own promises to ensure that the deal contained ironclad protections. Moreover, all that President Trump has done so far is to return the JCPOA to Congress for review. Had Obama followed the Constitution and submitted the JCPOA to the Senate as a treaty in the first place, the JCPOA in its present form almost certainly would not have been approved. Congress should now have the opportunity to revisit the JCPOA to determine whether the protections that the Obama administration promised are working as advertised. Congress should also consider whether time limits on Iran’s commitments continue to make sense in light of what we are now experiencing with Iran’s nuclear technology collaborator, North Korea. It bought time to turn into a full-fledged nuclear power under our noses.

Kerry had promised that the Iranian regime would be prohibited from testing ballistic missiles. This turned out to be a lie. After the JCPOA was finalized, with no such prohibition included, Iran continued to test such missiles. The Obama administration’s response was that the missiles had become a separate issue, to be dealt with under a new United Nations Security Council resolution endorsing the JCPOA.  The new resolution replaced clear prohibitions imposed on Iran’s ballistic missile program with a weak declaration in an annex that simply “calls upon” Iran not to undertake any activity such as development and test launches related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons for eight years.

Iran has tested several ballistic missiles during the last two years, including two Qadr H missiles with the phrase “Israel must be wiped out” emblazoned on the sides. The commander of Iran’s Army, Major General Ataollah Salehi, had told reporters just a month before the launch of those missiles that Iran was “neither paying any attention to the resolutions against Iran, nor implementing them. This is not a breach of the JCPOA.”

Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin, spurning requests from Obama administration officials to impose sanctions against Iran under the Security Council resolution, asserted that the Iranian missile test did not violate the resolution. “A call is different from a ban so legally you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” the Russian ambassador said. In short, the JCPOA did not cover the missile tests and the replacement UN Security Council resolution that did mention the missiles is toothless.

Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes told CNN, during an interview aired on April 6, 2015,  that under the deal’s terms then still being negotiated, “you will have anywhere, anytime, 24/7 access as it relates to the nuclear facilities that Iran has.” Rhodes claimed that “if we see a site that we need to inspect on a military facility, we can get access to that site and inspect it. So if it’s a suspicious site that we believe is related to its nuclear efforts, we can get access and inspect that site through the IAEA.” This was another lie. After the JCPOA was finalized in July 2015, Rhodes shamelessly denied that anytime, anywhere inspections were ever considered as part of the negotiations. “We never sought in this negotiation the capacity for so-called anytime, anywhere,” Rhodes said on July 14, 2015.

The JCPOA’s supporters, including Kerry, have made much of the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has on several occasions verified Iran’s compliance with its commitments under the JCPOA, keeping its stock of low-enriched uranium below the limit set forth in the JCPOA and not pursuing further construction of the Arak reactor. Iran was found to have slightly exceeded the limit on its stock of heavy water, but has remedied the problem to the IAEA’s satisfaction. IAEA chief Yukiya Amano reiterated in a statement he issued on October 9th that Iran has remained in compliance with its JCPOA commitments.

The problem, as any clear-eyed observer of the process recognizes, is that the IAEA relies on Iran for self-inspection of certain sites that the regime does not want the IAEA to inspect freely on its own. IAEA inspectors have avoided examining military sites it knows exists and has no reliable way of tracking undeclared sites. The IAEA’s explanation for not visiting any of Iran’s known military sites is that it had “no reason to ask” for access. Evidently, the IAEA is supposed to block out the fact that Iran had conducted tests relevant to nuclear bomb detonations at a military site before the JCPOA’s finalization in 2015. The IAEA should just pretend that such tests could not possibly happen again.

“Nobody is allowed to visit Iran’s military sites,” said Iran’s Head of Strategic Research Center at the Expediency Council and adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, Ali Akbar Velayati. Intimidation works. The IAEA knows not to ask.

As to the JCPOA’s sunset provisions, the Obama administration lied about that too. Kerry claimed on September 2, 2015 that the JCPOA “never sunsets. There’s no sunset in this agreement.”

This month Kerry has resorted to parsing words. He claims the phrase ‘sunset provisions’ is a “misnomer,” before then defending the JCPOA’s time limits. “We were comfortable because the cap on Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile remains in place until 2030,” Kerry wrote in an article published in the Washington Post late last month. In other words, let’s just kick the can down the road and hope for a more reasonable Iranian regime in 13 years that would agree to extend the time limits. In the meantime, Kerry advises us not to worry. Kerry declared, “15 or 25 years from now, we still have the same military options we have today.”

John Kerry has obviously learned nothing from the North Korean fiasco, which resulted from years of phony agreements with the rogue regime and so-called “strategic patience.” The United States clearly does not have the same military options today to deal with a nuclear armed North Korea as it did 23 years ago when former President Bill Clinton decided not to use military force to stamp out North Korea’s nuclear program at its inception. Instead, Clinton started us down the primrose path of naïve diplomacy with a duplicitous regime that now is on the verge of being able to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear warheads delivered by intercontinental ballistic missiles. It is precisely because North Korea’s actions over the last 23 years have proven that making concessions to a rogue regime in order to obtain denuclearization commitments is so dangerous that President Trump does not want to make the same mistake with Iran.

America’s European allies are also upset with President Trump for refusing to recertify the deal and threatening to pull out if certain conditions are not met. British Prime Minister Theresa May, French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel issued a joint statement last Friday praising the JCPOA and its implementation. They said that the nuclear deal with Iran was “the culmination of 13 years of diplomacy and was a major step towards ensuring that Iran’s nuclear programme is not diverted for military purposes. Therefore, we encourage the US Administration and Congress to consider the implications to the security of the US and its allies before taking any steps that might undermine the JCPOA, such as re-imposing sanctions on Iran lifted under the agreement.”

Perhaps these European leaders should remember their own history. Appeasement through phony deals with a rogue dictatorship does not work, as proven by the infamous Munich Pact signed by British and French Prime Ministers Neville Chamberlain and Edouard Daladier with German Chancellor Adolf Hitler seventy-nine years ago.

Haley: Trump’s Goal Is to Stop Iran From Becoming ‘the Next North Korea’

October 15, 2017

Haley: Trump’s Goal Is to Stop Iran From Becoming ‘the Next North Korea’, Washington Free Beacon, October 15,2017

 

 

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley defended President Donald Trump’s stance on the Iran nuclear deal by saying he is trying to keep Iran from becoming “the next North Korea.”

Trump announced Friday he would decertify Iran’s compliance with the nuclear agreement, but he is not fully withdrawing from it. Haley argued that his toughness on Iran is a result of seeing how negotiations with North Korea failed to stop the Kim Jong Un regime from developing a nuclear program.

“Had this been done with North Korea over the past 25 years, we wouldn’t be in this situation,” Haley said on Sunday, referring to Kim’s recent missile tests. “What you see is the president is trying to make sure that Iran doesn’t become the next North Korea.”

ABC host George Stephanopoulos asked Haley if Trump’s decision sent the wrong message to North Korea because it might prevent them from negotiating with the U.S. in the future. Haley, however, said it sends the message that the U.S. will remain vigilant.

“It sends the perfect message to North Korea, which is we’re not going to engage in a bad deal,” she said. “And should we ever get into a deal, we’re going to hold you accountable.”

Haley said Iran’s technical compliance with the International Atomic Energy Agency does not mean it meets the expectations the U.S. has for national security. She cited Iran’s other violations and support for terrorism and advised against complacency in service of keeping the deal.

“What you’re seeing is, everybody is turning a blind eye to Iran and all of those violations out of trying to protect this agreement,” Haley said. “What we need to say is, we have to hold them accountable.”

In another interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Haley reiterated her point that the joint partners in the Iran deal should not treat it as “too big to fail.”

“When the international community gives Iran a pass for all these things—the ballistic missile testing, the arms sales, their support of terrorism—and they look the other way all in the name of keeping the deal, then you are looking at something that’s too big to fail,” Haley said. “That’s the problem.”

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution

October 15, 2017

Strategic decisiveness, tactical caution, Israel Hayom, Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi, October 15, 2017

Iran is now facing a three-pronged American challenge: the steps that stem directly from the newly announced Trump Doctrine; new legislation against it; and unilateral action by Trump should Congress fail to enact new legislation, leading to the U.S. withdrawing from the pact.

In one fell swoop, through a single speech, Trump put the ball squarely in Iran’s court.

******************************

When it comes to North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump has adopted a policy of containment and deterrence, owing to the fact that it presents a general threat.

But when it comes to Iran, things are different. On Friday, Trump unveiled a new doctrine against this component of the Axis of Evil, a doctrine that is based more on red lines and clear thresholds that would trigger American action should they be crossed.

This approach represents a creative blend of strategic decisiveness and tactical caution. The strategic decisiveness rests on his pledge to counter Iran head-on, should the need arise, over its repeated violations of key parts of the 2015 nuclear deal, and over its conduct in the region (including its ongoing ballistic missile program and its continued support for terrorist groups and destabilization efforts).

The tactical caution part is based on his recognition that a potential Iranian-American clash is not necessarily immediate, forceful or even inevitable. In other words, the White House has articulated a gradual process that gives Iranian President Hassan Rouhani a way out by mending his ways before the moment of truth arrives.

Thus, even though the Trump Doctrine is a break from the way the nuclear deal has been implemented so far, Washington will stay in it in order to improve it, hoping that its threats will have a moderating effect on the ayatollah regime. Therefore, Trump’s decision to decertify the agreement doesn’t mean that he is bent on withdrawing from it. He is still going to play by the rules, but his new doctrine presents several powerful deterrent elements.

The first: He has sent a signal to Tehran of what’s to come. Through the newly announced sanctions on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which complement other steps the Pentagon has taken in the region to curtail Iran’s destabilizing activity, Iran now knows what’s at stake.

The second: He announced what could be a new, comprehensive and structured mechanism to punish Iran. If and when Congress decides to adopt such a mechanism, it will include a host of steps against the regime, including sanctions that are automatically imposed if Iran violates certain provisions characterized as “red lines” (say, regarding its missile program).

The third: If Congress fails to pass new legislation to punish Iran over the next two months, this will lead to the termination of the agreement as far as he is concerned – with all the consequences that this may entail.

Iran is now facing a three-pronged American challenge: the steps that stem directly from the newly announced Trump Doctrine; new legislation against it; and unilateral action by Trump should Congress fail to enact new legislation, leading to the U.S. withdrawing from the pact.

In one fell swoop, through a single speech, Trump put the ball squarely in Iran’s court.

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards

October 13, 2017

Congress Seeks Deadline on Iran Accepting Tougher Nuclear Deal Standards, Washington Free Beacon, October 13, 2017

Rep. Peter Roskam / Getty Images

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

*************************************

Congress is set to consider new legislation that would require Iran to accept tough new conditions on the landmark nuclear deal or face a rash of harsh new economic sanctions aimed at thwarting the Islamic Republic’s continued nuclear buildup, according to a draft of new legislation exclusively viewed by the Washington Free Beacon.

On the heels of President Donald Trump’s announcement that he will decertify Iranian compliance with the nuclear agreement, top GOP lawmakers are already working on legislation that would compliment the White House’s announcement and move forward with efforts to harshly penalize Tehran if it does not accept rigid new standards on its nuclear activities within the next six months, according to a copy of draft legislation circulating in the House of Representatives.

The new legislation, spearheaded by Rep. Peter Roskam (R., Ill.), would reimpose all economic sanctions lifted by the former Obama administration as part of the nuclear agreement if Iran refuses to comply with tough new standards restricting its ballistic missile program, arms buildup, and failure to permit access to a range of military sites suspected of engaging in nuclear work.

The legislation also would effectively kill provisions of the nuclear agreement known as sunset clauses. These are portions of the deal that would rollback restrictions on Iran’s advanced nuclear research and weapons buildup within the next five to six years.

Trump, as well as allies in Congress, maintains the original nuclear accord contains several key flaws that permit Iran to cheat on the deal and receive sweetheart bonuses—such as sanctions relief and other assets—despite evidence of multiple violations of the agreement.

Sources who spoke to the Free Beacon about the effort to tighten the deal said that many in Congress would be willing to reimpose all key sanctions on Iran if it does not agree to abide by the stricter enforcement regulations.

“The days of appeasing the Mullah’s every wish and sitting back and watching as the terrorist state goes nuclear are over,” said one senior congressional official intimately familiar with the new proposal. “Congress overwhelmingly opposed Obama’s disastrous deal with Iran. Now’s the time to assert our constitutional responsibility to defend our nation and use all tools of U.S. power to permanently prevent an nuclear armed Iran.”

This new legislation is similar to the policy approach advocated by senior Trump administration officials, such as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who told reporters late Thursday the administration is looking to create a parallel nuclear deal that gives Congress a larger role in ensuring Iranian compliance.

These would include “trigger points that are specific to the nuclear program itself, but also deals with things like their ballistic missile program,” according to Tillerson.

Roskam’s new legislation, called the JCPOA Improvement Act of 2017, seeks to do precisely this.

In addition to banning Iran from developing, testing, and operating ballistic missile technology—which was never addressed in the original nuclear agreement – the new legislation would impose even stricter regulations on the amount of nuclear enrichment Iran can legally engage in.

It also would stop Iran from installing advanced nuclear centrifuges that can enrich uranium, the key component in a nuclear weapon, much faster than older versions of this equipment. Under the original nuclear agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, Iran would have been granted the right to operate advanced centrifuges within the next several years.

Congress also is seeking to address Iran’s development of heavy water nuclear reactors that provide a secondary pathway to a nuclear weapon via the use of plutonium, a by-product of such equipment, according to the draft legislation and sources who spoke to the Free Beacon.

The Obama administration had worked to ensure that, under the agreement, Iran retained its right to operate such reactors, despite opposition in Congress and elsewhere. Iran has already inked several deals with Russia to assist in the construction of new light and heavy water reactors, though this new legislation could complicate that matter.

Another key portion of the original agreement that has been vehemently criticized by Trump and congressional allies surrounds caveats that give Iran more than a month before consenting to inspections of its nuclear sites.

Roskam’s legislation would mandate that Iran permit unfettered, unannounced, and indefinite access to all of Iran’s contested nuclear sites, including military spots that have been completely off-access to international nuclear inspectors.

Iran opposes such proposals, claiming that its military sites will never been opened to the international community.

If Iran does not agree to the new restrictions proposed in the legislation, Congress has the ability to reimpose all sanctions that were lifted as part of the original accord. This represents a major new tool for Congress as it works to thwart Iran’s continued military endeavors across the Middle East and its pursuit of advanced new weaponry.

Under the new legislation, any future attempt to rescind these new restrictions would be subject to a vote in the United Nations Security Council, according to the bill.

Viewing Enemy Regimes as They Are, Not as We Wish They Were

October 10, 2017

Viewing Enemy Regimes as They Are, Not as We Wish They Were, Gatestone InstitutePeter Huessy, April 10, 2017

Experience has shown that soft rhetoric and so-called “smart diplomacy” have served only to enable North Korea and Iran to produce more nuclear weapons and better ballistic missiles.

Not only has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) been prevented from monitoring Iranian compliance, but it is not pushing the issue for fear that “Washington would use an Iranian refusal as an excuse to abandon the JCPOA.”

During his first press conference after taking office in January 1981, US President Ronald Reagan called détente a “one-way street that the Soviet Union has used to pursue its own aims.” Echoing this remark while addressing reporters later the same day, Secretary of State Alexander Haig said that the Soviets were the source of much support for international terrorism, especially in Latin and Central America.

The following day, both Reagan and Haig were criticized for their remarks, with members of the media describing the president’s words as “reminiscent of the chilliest days of the Cold War,” and appalled that the administration’s top diplomat was accusing the Russians of backing terrorist activities.

Nearly four decades later, in spite of the successful defeat of the Soviet empire, the White House is still frowned upon when it adopts a tough stance towards America’s enemies. Today’s outrage is directed at President Donald Trump’s warnings about — and to — North Korea and Iran. The Washington Post called his recent “fire and fury” threats to Pyongyang a “rhetorical grenade,” for example, echoing top Democrats’ attacks on his remarks for being “reckless” and “irresponsible.”

Critics of Trump’s attitude towards Tehran go equally far, describing his opposition to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — the nuclear deal with Iran — as “rushing headlong into war.”

Trump’s detractors, however, are just as wrong as those who berated Reagan in 1981. Experience has shown that soft rhetoric and so-called “smart diplomacy” have served only to enable North Korea and Iran to produce more nuclear weapons and better ballistic missiles.

Although the JCPOA stipulates that Iran is not permitted to produce more than a certain quantity of enriched uranium or to enrich uranium beyond a certain level, not only has the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) been prevented from monitoring Iranian compliance, but it is not pushing the issue for fear that “Washington would use an Iranian refusal as an excuse to abandon the JCPOA.”

Furthermore, among its many other flaws, the JCPOA does not address Iran’s ballistic-missile capabilities or financing of global terrorism.

Nevertheless, it is the administration’s rhetoric that is under attack. Isn’t it high time for the media and foreign-policy establishment to wake up to the reality that seeing regimes as they are, rather than as we wish them to be, is the only way to confront our enemies effectively, and with the least number of casualties?

Peter Huessy is president of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead

October 10, 2017

ANALYSIS: Certified or decertified, Iran faces tough road ahead, Al Arabiya, Heshmat Alavi, October 9, 2017

Members of Iranian armed forces march during a parade in Tehran, Iran, September 22, 2017. President.ir/Handout via REUTERS.

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

**************************

All eyes are on US President Donald Trump and his upcoming Iran speech later this week to clarify his decision to certify or decertify Tehran’s compliance with a nuclear agreement, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), designed to curb the regime’s controversial atomic drive.

This has Iran’s regime on its toes, as senior elite in Tehran understand fully how the US can lead the international community in adopting strong measures against its broad scope of malign activities. Expected to be addressed is also a wide range of concerns over Iran’s dangerous policies in relation to its ballistic missile advances, meddling in Middle East states and supporting terrorist proxy groups as explained in a new video.

‘Iran’s unacceptable behavior’

Iran’s rogue behavior, currently imposing its influence on four major regional capitals of Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus and Sanaa, are the result of the Obama administration’s “overly lenient foreign policy, which sought to promote America’s priorities through consensus, rather than through the frank display of power,” as put by a recent The New Yorker piece.

“Lifting the sanctions as required under the terms of the JCPOA has enabled Iran’s unacceptable behavior,” US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in a late September meeting with his P5+1 counterparts and Iran’s top diplomat Mohammad Javad Zarif.

The Trump administration is also deeply concerned over Iran’s proxies mining the strategic Bab el-Mandeb Strait waterway, aiming its indigenous missiles from Yemen towards cities in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries, and from southern Lebanon towards Israel. This is Tehran in action with the objective of taking advantage of the destruction left behind by ISIS across the region, especially in Syria and Iraq.

“The Iranian regime supports terrorism and exports violence, bloodshed and chaos across the Middle East,” Trump told reporters before a Thursday evening meeting with senior military leaders at the White House. “That is why we must put an end to Iran’s continued aggression and nuclear ambitions,” he said. “They have not lived up to the spirit of their agreement.”

Trump has put Iran “on notice” over charges that Tehran violated a nuclear deal with the West by test-firing a ballistic missile. (Reuters)

Joint effort

Parallel to the White House there are voices on Capitol Hill advocating the new approach weighed by the administration.

“The president should decline to certify, not primarily on grounds related to Iran’s technical compliance, but rather based on the long catalog of the regime’s crimes and perfidy against the United States, as well as the deal’s inherent weakness,” Senator Tom Cotton said last week at a speech in the Council on Foreign Relations.

As the Trump administration seeks to place necessary focus on Iran’s illicit Middle East ambitions and actions, talks are also ongoing as we speak over how to amend the JCPOA’s restrictions.

“Sunset clauses,” Iran’s ballistic missile development and testing, and an inspections regime lacking the bite to gain necessary access into the regime’s controversial military sites. Under the current framework Iran can easily conduct nuclear weapons research and development in military sites and claim such locations do not fall under the JCPOA jurisdiction.

While it is expected of Trump to decertify Iran, he most likely will not go the distance to completely pull America out of the nuclear agreement. Obama refused to send the JCPOA to Congress for discussion and approval. Trump, however, seems set to place the decision to impose further sanctions on Iran upon the shoulders of US lawmakers.

US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley speaks about the Iran nuclear deal at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, on September 5, 2017. (Reuters)

More than ‘one piece’

The new mentality sought by Washington is to address all of Iran’s belligerence and not allow its nuclear program and the JCPOA devour all of the international community’s attention.

The new US response, including blacklisting Iran’s notorious Revolutionary Guards, to be announced by Trump is said to cover missile tests, support for terrorism and proxy groups checkered across the Middle East, hopefully human rights violations at home, and cyberattacks.

Iran has a history of resorting to such measures, including targeting Saudi oil interests. Raising the stakes for Iran, Trump described a meeting with his top military brass on Thursday evening as “the calm before the storm.” Neither the US President nor the White House provided further details, yet rest assured Tehran received the message.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. (AFP)

Fear renders contradiction

Sensing an increasingly escalating tone from Washington, Tehran signaled its first sign of fear by expressing readiness to discuss its ballistic missile program, according to Reuters. And yet less than 24 hours later, Iranian officials said no offers were made to negotiate such restrictions.

“Iran regards defensive missile programs as its absolute right and will definitely continue them within the framework of its defensive, conventional and specified plans and strategies,” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi said, according state media.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani also felt the need to make remarks to save face before the regime’s already depleting social base. “In the nuclear negotiations and agreement we reached issues and benefits that are not reversible. No one can turn that back, not Mr. Trump or anyone else,” Rouhani said at a recent Tehran University ceremony, according to state media.

Of course, we all remember how prior to the JCPOA signing in 2015 senior Iranian officials went the limits in describing any “retreat” regarding their nuclear program as a “red line.” To make a long story short, Tehran is comprehending how the times are changing at a high velocity, endangering its domestic, regional and international interests. And unlike the Obama years, its actions will not go unanswered.

Senator Cotton made this crystal clear at his speech: “Congress and the President, working together, should lay out how the deal must change and, if it doesn’t, the consequences Iran will face.”