Focus should be on the Iranian nuclear threat

While American leaders are distracted by the Washington, DC circus involving impeachment frenzy and muddied internal politics, the world’s largest state-sponsor of terrorism is flexing its nuclear muscle.

On the 40th anniversary of the 1979 student takeover of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, Iran flagrantly announced how it is in significant violation of the disintegrating, disastrous nuclear deal with global powers.

Iran now has the capacity to enrich uranium 10 times beyond the parameters of the Iranian nuclear accord reached by the Obama administration and the P5+1 back in 2015.  This is a critical breakthrough for Iran as it fast-tracks its path toward a nuclear weapons capability.

Moreover, this marks a dangerous escalation to which America and its Western allies should pay close attention.  The unelected, radical mullahs in Tehran leading this conflagration are driven by a fierce hegemonic and anti-Western agenda placing the U.S. and many of our allies at risk, especially Israel.

Chants calling for death to America and Israel have reverberated throughout Iran for decades.  Today, as those sentiments are ringing out near the U.S. Embassy, Iran’s leaders already have made their terrorist agenda very clear.  Iran feels emboldened, and the escalations appear to be calculated.

President Trump’s decision to draw down troops, withdraw U.S. support for the Kurds in Syria and his various comments decrying American appetite for involvement in Middle Eastern conflicts has not gone unnoticed in Tehran.  Recent events illustrate that they see America’s pullback as a sign of weakness and retreat, signaling that now is the time for Iran to see just how far they can push without consequences.

The power-hungry mullahs are clearly banking on this shift in U.S. policy, viewing crumbling American leadership in the Middle East as a golden opportunity to expand their nefarious influence.

Recent dramatic pivots in U.S. policy have created a heightened sense of vulnerability for America’s allies.  It is reality and not hyperbole to assert that these are dangerous times that could ultimately serve as the precursor to a regional war in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and Israel are laser-focused on the Iranian nuclear threat.  In fact, their shared wariness of Iran has provided the building blocks for collaboration and cooperation between the two countries on a scale never before seen.

America cannot afford to take its eye off the key issue in the Middle East.  Instead, the Trump Administration should continue to make containing Iran’s nuclear pursuits a top foreign policy priority.

Israel has been very clear about its red line when it comes to Iran.  The Jewish state has repeatedly pledged that it will not allow Iran to develop the atomic arms with which it could wipe out Israel’s very existence.  Today, Iran is racing forward by exponentially increasing is enrichment of uranium.  Tomorrow, unless something changes and soon, the whirring of centrifuges could give way to the sounds of Israeli armaments destroying Iranian nuclear facilities.  The stakes are high and the prospect of war all too real.

The world knows precisely who Iran is.  The terrorist regime has far-reaching tentacles that provide operational and financial support to terrorist proxies including Hamas and Hezbollah, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, and Bashar Assad’s state killing apparatus in Syria.

Back at home, Iran has combined brutality with sheer evil, intimidating, persecuting and prosecuting critics.  Tehran brutalizes its own people, and its atrocious human rights record is embodied by the shocking images of women being stoned to death for being raped, and gay men being hanged to death from cranes for the “crime” of homosexuality.

But perhaps what Iran does best is playing the West for fools. During the negotiations leading up to the 2015 Iranian nuclear accord, Iranian diplomats time and again were able to wrest concessions related to its nuclear program.  These included pocketing wins on issues ranging from ridiculously separating and compartmentalizing its nuclear pursuits from the ballistic missile delivery systems, accepting past illicit nuclear weapons work, ignoring enrichment of plutonium, and expanding centrifuge research. By far, one of Iran’s greatest accomplishments was tying the hands of inspectors from the IAEA, the agency responsible for monitoring its nuclear activity and infrastructure.

Recalling Iran’s historic patterns of subterfuge, manipulation, intransigence, terrorist support and human brutality is critical in predicting its future moves.

The United States must do everything in its power to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons that could place Americans and our allies in harm’s way.  Otherwise, the forecast could be war and bloodshed.

About the Author
Evan Nierman is Founder and CEO of Red Banyan, an international public relations and crisis management firm. For the past 20-plus years, he has helped leading companies, governments, business leaders and high-profile individuals accomplish their goals using strategic communications.
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