It is interesting to observe that the moment Iran decided to withdraw from the nuclear deal, on Monday, leaders of the European Union became the pro bono defense attorneys for the Islamic Republic. The news that Iran has followed through on its threat to violate the limit imposed on its stockpile of enriched uranium was greeted by the European Union with the response of “let’s do anything to keep this deal alive.”
When this deal was negotiated, we had been assured of immediate, “snap back sanctions” by President Obama, if Iran violated the deal. Yet, instead of holding Iran accountable for its violations, the top European nations are seeking to give Iran a second chance.
The international community can use a refresher course about just what sort of a regime we are dealing with here. Iran is governed by an apocalyptic, tyrannical, theocracy that believes that they will bring their Messiah, the 12th Imam, by converting the entire world to Shia Islam and obliterating the non-believers. In their religious zeal, they hang gays, publicly lash women who have been raped, and arbitrarily sentence political prisoners and religious minorities to exceedingly harsh prison sentences.
The day that Iran decided to step up its production of highly enriched uranium to exceed the limits of the nuclear deal, a senior Iranian official, Mojtaba Zonour, said that “if the United States attacks Iran, only one half hour will remain in Israel’s lifespan”.
Yet, in some sort of Kafkaesque inversion, many of our European allies see the United States as the culprit, here, because the US kept careful tabs on Iranian violations of a deal, and Iran as the hapless ictim.
The truth is that Iran has – despite what has been reported – not been complying with the deal. To be certain, it is correct that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not found Iran to be in material breach of the JCPOA. But that’s more because the IAEA has not been looking too carefully at what Iran has done.
There is evidence that Iran has carried out military nuclear research at Parchin, but the IAEA, charged with assuring Iran’s compliance with the deal, refused to even ask for access. This is shocking given that it is precisely sites like Parchin where Iran has conducted illicit nuclear weapons research.
It would be more accurate to say that the IAEA has not found any Iranian violations because it hasn’t looked for them. For example, in 2017, an IAEA official said that his organization would not demand that Iran grant it access to military sites “We’re not going to visit a military site like Parchin just to send a political signal.”
In addition, as Michael Doran pointed out about the nuclear archive that Israel spirited out of Iran last year in an article published last month in Mosaic magazine:
The archive reveals, among other things, that Iran never abandoned its nuclear-weapons program but simply restructured it, emphasizing dual-use activities that have allowed Tehran to claim with a modicum of plausibility that its nuclear activities are “peaceful” and “civilian.” The JCPOA helped advance this deception by bestowing international legitimacy on facilities like the Fordow bunker.
While Zarif is very good in his role of spokesman for an aggrieved Iranian regime, reality is quite a bit different from the way he presented it.
But Zarif is not acting alone. He is helped by what Doran describes as a “coalition of open minds” dedicated to preserving the nuclear deal. Members of this coalition, he observes, “agree with the Europeans that Trump, not Iran, is to blame for the military escalation in the Gulf.”
This belief is false.
As noted previously, Iran was never in compliance with the nuclear deal. The U.S. withdrawal just ended the sham that the deal was actually preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons. For one thing, the Iranians closed off military sites to the International Atomic Energy Administration inspectors
Furthermore, the JCPOA called on all parties “to refrain from any action inconsistent with the letter, spirit and intent of this JCPOA that would undermine its successful implementation.” Surely the ballistic missile tests violated the spirit of the agreement.
In violation of UN Resolution 2231, the United Nations has found evidence showing that Iran was the source of weapons shipped to the Houthi rebels. According to the resolution Iran is barred from exporting weapons for at least eight years after implementation of the deal.
Taken together, Iran has violated both the JCPOA itself and the UN resolution that implemented the deal. Its stockpiling of enriched uranium above the deal-imposed limit is Iran’s latest show of contempt for international law and norms.
It’s time for the world to stop making excuses for Iran and snapback all international nuclear sanctions on the Islamic Republic. It is only this kind of severe economic measure that can hope to force Iran to stop enriching uranium and open up all of its facilities to international inspectors.
The crisis can be defused. Iran can abide by the terms of the deal it agreed to and then there will be no need to reimpose sanctions. Or it can refuse and suffer the consequences.
Sarah N. Stern is Founder and President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth, an unabashedly pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy shop in Washington, DC.