The argument that negotiating and reaching a nuclear deal with the mullahs of Iran will curb their nuclear ambitions and prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons is, sadly, a dangerous fantasy. Pictured: The Isfahan uranium enrichment facility in Isfahan, Iran. (Photo by Getty Images)
The argument that negotiating and reaching a nuclear deal with the mullahs of Iran will curb their nuclear ambitions and prevent the Iranian regime from obtaining nuclear weapons is, sadly, a dangerous fantasy.
The nuclear deal has sunset clauses that soon remove restrictions on Iran's nuclear program after the deal expires. In short, the nuclear deal, rather than preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, as it was falsely touted to do, in fact paves the way for Tehran to become a legitimized nuclear state after it concludes.
Even before that, however, it is important to expect that whatever the deal, the Iranian regime will continue to pursue its nuclear ambitions and clandestine nuclear activities: there are historical precedents for it.
It was not one year into the 2015 nuclear deal that two credible intelligence reports revealed that Iran had no intention of honoring the terms of the deal it had just reached with the Obama-Biden administration. Germany's domestic intelligence agency, the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, revealed in its annual report in 2016 that the Iranian government had been pursuing a "clandestine" path to obtain illicit nuclear technology and equipment from German companies "at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level."
The 2016 intelligence report also stated that "it is safe to expect that Iran will continue its intensive procurement activities in Germany using clandestine methods to achieve its objectives." German Chancellor Angela Merkel had strongly criticized Iran at the time and emphasized the significance of these findings in a statement to the German Parliament.
Another detailed report by the Institute for Science and International Security appeared to shed more light on Iran's covert nuclear activities during what the world probably thought was an assured nuclear deal. The report stated, also in 2016 during the supposedly guaranteed nuclear deal:
"The Institute for Science and International Security has learned that Iran's Atomic Energy Organization (AEOI) recently made an attempt to purchase tons of controlled carbon fiber from a country. This attempt occurred after Implementation Day of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) [the nuclear deal]....This attempt thus raises concerns over whether Iran intends to abide by its JCPOA commitments.... The carbon fiber procurement attempt is also another example of efforts by the P5+1 to keep secret problematic Iranian actions."
In addition, it was still during the presumed nuclear deal, in 2018, that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General Yukiya Amano immediately to inspect an "atomic warehouse" in Iran.
The Islamic Republic, Netanyahu stated in his speech to the UN General Assembly, had a "secret atomic warehouse for storing massive amounts of equipment and material from Iran's secret nuclear weapons program." Tehran claimed that the "secret atomic warehouse," located in a village of Turquz Abad in the suburbs of Tehran, was a place where carpets were cleaned. The IAEA at first ignored the reports. This should not come as a surprise: the IAEA has a long history of misreporting the Islamic Republic's compliance with the deal and declining to follow up on credible reports about Iran's illicit nuclear activities. Nevertheless, after a significant amount of pressure was imposed on the IAEA, the site was finally inspected. Even though the Iranian leaders had cleaned up the facility, the IAEA's inspectors were able to detect traces of radioactive uranium. Israel's warning and other reports had proved accurate.
The detection of radioactive particles in Turquz Abad after Israel's warning, in addition to Iran's response that suspicions about its deceptions are "fabricated," point to Iran's probably intractable unwillingness to honor its commitments.
Finally, also during the 2015 nuclear deal, the Iranian regime exceeded the amount of heavy water -- a material that can be utilized for nuclear energy or for producing nuclear weapons -- it was supposed to possess under the nuclear pact. Iran was obligated to keep its stockpile of heavy water at less than 130 metric tons. According to reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency, however, the Islamic Republic exceeded its threshold for heavy water on more than one occasion: both in 2015 and 2016. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano acknowledged in November 2016: "For the second time since implementation of the JCPOA began, Iran's inventory of heavy water exceeded 130 metric (tons)."
The mullahs of Iran will not honor any deal with the international community. While the mullahs will gladly reap the profits of any nuclear deal and its lifting of the sanctions, their regime will continue pursuing its covert attempts to obtain nuclear weapons and overt attempts -- with China -- to take over the Middle East.
Just recently, we have seen Iran's entrenchments in Syria and Iraq; its takeover of Lebanon by its proxy Hezbollah; its stepped-up aggression against Saudi Arabia by its proxy, the Houthis, and its 4,000-rocket war this month on the tiny country of Israel by yet another proxy, Hamas.
Whatever "deal" is struck in Vienna, Iran is not interested in "stabilizing" the Middle East. As the Biden administration has correctly pointed out, Iran's leaders, with China, seem interested only in destabilizing, then dominating it.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East. He has authored several books on Islam and US foreign policy. He can be reached at Dr.Rafizadeh@Post.Harvard.Edu