Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Flawed Underpinnings of the New Nuclear Understandings with Iran

Filed under: Iran, Israeli Security, Radical Islam, The Middle East, U.S. Policy

The underlying flaw in the new nuclear understandings between the P5+1 and Iran is the fact that it leaves Iran’s vast nuclear infrastructure intact. Indeed, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif boasted, after the understandings were announced, that  Iran did not have to close down a single nuclear facility, it will continue to engage in uranium enrichment, and it can engage in research and development (meaning it can develop new generations of centrifuges that operate at 10  or 20 times the speed of the first-generation centrifuges that have been installed in uranium enrichment plants like Natanz and Fordow). And while Iran holds on to this nuclear complex, Western sanctions on the Iranian economy  will be removed and Tehran will be awash with cash to support its expansionism into Middle Eastern countries, its missile programs which are not covered by the agreement, and its global backing of terrorism. For these reasons the agreement looks like a grave error of historic proportions.

Careful diplomacy would have had to assume that Iran will violate the new understandings  and at the end of the day will not comply with its terms. That is what the historical record unquestionably demonstrates. Tehran concealed its enrichment facilities that it was obligated to declare under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran did not provide full access to suspected sites that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) sought to inspect. The famous Parchin weapons site was tampered with; asphalt was poured over large areas to make ground samples difficult to obtain, should Iran be forced to open the area in the future. By leaving the Iranian nuclear infrastructure intact, should Iran follow the path of its North Korean ally and evict the inspectors of its nuclear sites, Tehran would be able to reconstitute a full-scale nuclear program in short order and make a straight dash to nuclear bombs.

Iranian expansionism at present is the best window into Iranian intent. The leadership in Tehran is trying to establish Iran as a new hegemonic power that dominates the Middle East. It was an Iranian parliamentarian close to the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who bragged that Iran now controls four Arab capitals. It was the powerful commander of the Qods Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), General Qassem Suleimani, who declared that Iran controls developments in Jordan, the way it controls events in Lebanon and Iraq. If Iran sees itself as a new imperial power, taking over its neighbors, then what are the chances that its leadership will remain a nuclear threshold state?

There is almost no doubt about the answer to this question. Iran will seek to cross the nuclear threshold and equip itself with nuclear weapons. And since the understandings  do not address the growth and upgrading of Iran’s missile forces, Tehran could have a substantial missile arsenal including missiles of intercontinental range in the years ahead. In short, the new understandings  could lead to a very dangerous strategic situation for Israel and the West. Historical precedents with Iran and its present behavior make these prudent conclusions, and not alarmist, as advocates of the new accord will charge.