U.S. Army Gen. Joseph Votel recently expressed his support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear accord reached with Iran, in Vienna, Austria, in July of 2015 ): "The JCPOA addresses one of the principle threats that we deal with from Iran, so if the JCPOA goes away, then we will have to have another way to deal with their nuclear weapons program." (Reuters, March 13, 2018).
I have enormous respect for Gen. Votel, and for his service to our nation. But he, and Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford, are just totally wrong in their position on the JCPOA.
The JCPOA does not deal with any nuclear threat coming from Iran. It is a political agreement that is totally toothless when it comes to Iran, and actually counterproductive to the U.S. national interests.
Of crucial importance, the JCPOA provides us no assurance that Iran is keeping to its’ nuclear restrictions. Iran does not allow the international inspectors into its military sites, where any nuclear development would actually occur. Physical inspections are a necessity; satellite surveillance can only show so much, and sometimes it raises more questions than it answers.
The inspectors have diplomatically, and cowardly, chosen to avoid any controversy with the Iranians by not asking for any inspections of military sites. This, in no way, can be said to be addressing the threat of a nuclear Iran.
Iran may also be working with North Korea to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests.
The international inspectors have no way of knowing what is going on in that hermit Asian nation, so this is yet another avenue for Iranian violations.
Iran also defies a number of another supposed requirements from the JCPOA. Iran has produced excessive heavy water and sold it for profit. It has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building (IR-8) and operating (IR-6) larger numbers of advanced centrifuges than is allowed. Iran is also continuing to produce uranium enriched to 5 percent beyond the quantity it is permitted.
Further, aside from the nuclear restrictions, Iran has violated the five-year conventional arms embargo that was part of the JCPOA. Iran illegally ships weapons to Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and many other nations.
Iran has also taken advantage of the JCPOA’s change in ballistic missile language to step up its ballistic missile tests. Until the JCPOA, UN. Security Council Resolution 1929, from 2010, said "Iran shall not undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using ballistic missile technology, and that States shall take all necessary measures to prevent the transfer of technology or technical assistance to Iran related to such activities."
However, under the JCPOA and the accompanying UN resolution, Iran is "called upon not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology . . . " "Called upon," of course, is much weaker language than "shall not," which explicitly forbids the actions. Further, the Iranians have also blatantly lied by claiming the missiles they are testing are not designed to carry nuclear warheads, even though ballistic missiles are meant to deliver nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, the JCPOA has provided Iran with tremendous amounts of monies to continue their aggressive and dangerous behavior in the Mideast. Simply to negotiate with the P 5 plus 1 (the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members: China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.) the Iranians received $12 billion or more in frozen funds.
For the deal itself, Iran obtained another $115 billion — or more — in frozen funds. Then, they collected another $1.7 billion in cash, at the exact same time, for some American hostages. And none of this includes the money Iran earned and is continuing to earn from the lifting of sanctions, which is valued at billions more.
Iran has put all this money to good use. In tandem with the Russians, they kept their bloodthirsty puppet Assad in power, and are currently helping him pummel the remaining rebel groups and slaughter civilians in Syria. They have been sponsoring jihadist groups in Lebanon, Gaza, Yemen and Bahrain.
And they have effectively come to dominate Iraq, thanks to their Popular Mobilization Front troops. They are even "mucking around" by funneling money into Iraq to sway the outcome of its coming elections, according to Secretary of Defense Mattis.
So, to sum up, the JCPOA has been a total disaster for the U.S. Under it, Iran is still able to work on the nuclear program and its affiliated ballistic missile program. Thanks to it, "(a) cross the greater Mideast, Iran is proliferating dangerous weapons, fueling sectarian violence, and supporting terrorist proxies and militias, such as Hezbollah.
"The regime proudly chants "Death to America" and "Death to Israel . . . (i)n Syria, Iran’s actions have directly interfered with efforts to de-escalate violence, defeat ISIS, and protect innocent civilians."
And just by agreeing to it, the JCPOA has given Iran respectability with the outside world, despite its continuing human rights abuses and undemocratic actions. It has also helped end Iran’s economic isolation.
General Votel is simply incorrect when he claims the JCPOA has addressed the nuclear threat (and other threats) from Iran. It hasn’t. And it is way past time for the U.S. to acknowledge that fact, and act accordingly.
Adam Turner is the General Counsel and Legislative Affairs Director for the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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