No deal will stop the ruling mullahs of Iran from pursuing their nuclear ambitions. The only way to deter or stop Iran is to impose drastic economic sanctions on the regime again. (Image source: iStock)
If we closely examine the Iranian regime's nuclear file, it reveals that no deal will stop the ruling mullahs of Iran from pursuing their nuclear ambitions.
A few years after the 1979 revolution, the Islamic Republic appeared to make the advancement of a nuclear program a top item on its agenda after consolidating power in 1984. In the decade after, the Islamic Republic began its nuclear program with the help of some intermediaries such as Russia, China and Pakistan.
At the time, the head of Iran's Atomic Energy Organization, Gholamreza Aghazadeh, acknowledged that Pakistan assisted Tehran. He pointed out "I do have information that some years ago, through intermediaries, we received pieces for centrifuges". According to the United States intelligence, A.Q. Khan, who was known as "the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb", sold expertise and equipment to North Korea, Libya and Iran, and made more than $50 million.
Since then, the Iranian regime has been progressing steadily and investing in its nuclear program for more than three decades. Currently, it has reached a point near the "nuclear threshold." The regime is perhaps weeks away from obtaining the weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. According to a report in the New York Times:
"Iran has come within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon, crossing a threshold that may raise pressure on the United States and its allies to improve the terms of a potential deal to restore the 2015 nuclear agreement."
Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz, during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, told ambassadors from countries on the United Nations Security Council that Iran "is only around 10 weeks away from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon".
The only times the Iranian regime has supposedly scaled back its nuclear program was due to two critical reasons. The first was linked to the drastic economic sanctions which threatened the ruling clerics' hold on power, forcing the leadership to recalculate its priorities. The sanctions prior to the 2015 nuclear deal, for example, were significant, as they endangered the power of the ruling clergy and ultimately brought Iranian leaders to the negotiating table between 2013 and 2015.
There were four rounds of sanctions. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council unanimously called on all countries to freeze the financial assets of Iranian entities linked to the nuclear program, to ban Iran's import and export of "sensitive nuclear material and equipment," and to sanction the supply or sale of nuclear-related equipment and technology. They also imposed restrictions on Iranian bank transactions and called on countries to inspect Iranian ships and cargo planes where there were reasonable grounds to believe that the regime was smuggling prohibited products.
After the Iranian regime was able to make the world powers lift the major economic sanctions, however, Iran began clandestinely pursuing its nuclear ambitions even during the term of the nuclear deal. For instance, the detection of radioactive particles in Turquz Abad, Iran's reluctance to answer simple questions about the secret facility, and non-partisan evidence about Iran's nuclear activities at the location, all point to the fact that Tehran was most likely violating the 2015 nuclear deal since it was reached.
The second reason the Iranian regime may have scaled back on achieving its nuclear ambitions was linked to the fear of military operations against Tehran. After the US invaded Iraq in 2003, Iranian leaders rushed to offer the Bush administration a deal that would reportedly have curtailed their nuclear program. That was probably because the Islamic Republic was concerned that the Bush administration might next attack Iran or its nuclear facilities. then US President George W. Bush did in fact debate bombing Iran, as he pointed out in his memoir, Decision Points, "I directed the Pentagon to study what would be necessary for a strike." He added, "This would be to stop the bomb clock, at least temporarily."
The only way to deter or stop Iran is to impose drastic economic sanctions on the regime again, thereby cutting the flow of funding to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and -- one hopes for the sake of the repressed Iranian people as well as any stability in the region -- bringing the regime financially to its knees.
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