Regressing on Iran

Reuters

A general view of Bushehr nuclear power plant, 1,200 km (746 miles) south of Tehran, August 21, 2010.

Article Highlights

  • The roots of suspicion regarding Iran’s nuclear programs are many and its explanations make little sense.

    Tweet This

  • The problem is that declared Iranian nuclear facilities provide cover for imports then diverted into undeclared sites.

    Tweet This

  • But does Iran want nuclear weapons? @MRubin1971

    Tweet This

While running for president, Barack Obama promised to meet the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran “without preconditions.” In order to jump-start diplomacy upon taking office, Obama recognized the country’s right to enrich uranium. Rather than enable diplomacy, this concession poisoned it. With a single statement, Obama unilaterally stripped of authority three hard-fought Security Council Resolutions forbidding enrichment. Iranian authorities responded by ramping up enrichment and flatly rejecting to negotiate suspension.

Alas, Obama appears ready to accede an Iranian right to enrich. It would be diplomatic malpractice, however, to accept Iran’s explanations about their peaceful nuclear intentions. Not only are the Islamic Republic’s nuclear explanations rife with inconsistency, but the assumptions that the West can live with and contain a nuclear Iran are wrong.

The roots of suspicion regarding Iran’s nuclear programs are many. Tehran’s explanations about why it needs nuclear energy make little sense. Iranian leaders justify their nuclear enrichment in a desire for indigenous energy security. However, should Iran enrich its domestic uranium supply to the level needed to fuel its planned 8-10 nuclear reactors, then it can only power its country for approximately 15 years. In contrast, should it extend its refinery and pipeline network, it could provide enough electricity to power its country for more than a century at a fraction of the cost.

Iranian cavalier attitude toward nuclear agreements also raises doubts about its intentions. Iran has signed the Additional Protocol—an agreement meant to tighten loopholes which allowed Iraq to maintain a covert nuclear weapons program prior to 1991—but it has refused to ratify the agreement. This means, in effect, that the Iranian leadership claims entitlement to the highest level of nuclear technology sharing but rejects the spot inspections to guarantee that it will not pursue nuclear weapons.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has formally found Iran non-compliant with the Nuclear Non- Proliferation Treaty Safeguards Agreement. Nor is Iran like Iraq: Whereas the Central Intelligence Agency based its faulty assessments about Iraq’s nuclear program on secret intelligence, concern regarding Iran’s nuclear program derive from concerns raised during inspections and attempts to deceive the IAEA. Iranian authorities, for example, claimed that their program was indigenous but then tried to explain away high enriched uranium residue by suggesting that it had been on parts imported from Pakistan.

Opacity compounds the problem. While Iran declares its right to operate the civilian reactor at Bushehr, the problem is not Bushehr per se but rather that declared facilities provide cover for imports then diverted into undeclared sites. Over the past two decades, Iran has built several, most famously the Natanz enrichment facility, and, more recently, Fordow, a once covert facility buried under a mountain.

Here, empowering the IAEA provides no solace. By its own bylaws, the IAEA only inspects declared facilities. If Iran denies a facility’s existence, the IAEA has no right to inspect it. Nor is IAEA remote-monitoring the answer. The IAEA does not watch its cameras 24/7; rather, it reviews videotapes every few weeks only after they have been fl own to Vienna. Should Iran choose to produce weapons-grade uranium, it might manufacture enough to construct a bomb between inspections and tape reviews.

But does Iran want nuclear weapons? Diplomats say Supreme Ali Khamenei’s fatwa prohibiting nuclear weapons provides a basis for diplomacy, but Khamenei’s website lists no such fatwa. Tying diplomacy to a text diplomats cite but have never seen is akin to investing in a unicorn ranch.

For full text of article: http://magazine.townhall.com/featured

 

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Michael
Rubin


  • Michael Rubin is a former Pentagon official whose major research areas are the Middle East, Turkey, Iran and diplomacy. Rubin instructs senior military officers deploying to the Middle East and Afghanistan on regional politics, and teaches classes regarding Iran, terrorism, and Arab politics on board deploying U.S. aircraft carriers. Rubin has lived in post-revolution Iran, Yemen, both pre- and post-war Iraq, and spent time with the Taliban before 9/11. His newest book, Dancing with the Devil: The Perils of Engagement examines a half century of U.S. diplomacy with rogue regimes and terrorist groups.


    Follow Michael Rubin on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5851
    Email: mrubin@aei.org
  • Assistant Info

    Name: Ahmad Majidyar
    Phone: 202-862-5845
    Email: ahmad.majidyar@aei.org

What's new on AEI

image The Census Bureau and Obamacare: Dumb decision? Yes. Conspiracy? No.
image A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
image Give the CBO long-range tools
image The coming collapse of India's communists
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 21
    MON
  • 22
    TUE
  • 23
    WED
  • 24
    THU
  • 25
    FRI
Wednesday, April 23, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Graduation day: How dads’ involvement impacts higher education success

Join a diverse group of panelists — including sociologists, education experts, and students — for a discussion of how public policy and culture can help families lay a firmer foundation for their children’s educational success, and of how the effects of paternal involvement vary by socioeconomic background.

Thursday, April 24, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Getting it right: A better strategy to defeat al Qaeda

This event will coincide with the release of a new report by AEI’s Mary Habeck, which analyzes why current national security policy is failing to stop the advancement of al Qaeda and its affiliates and what the US can do to develop a successful strategy to defeat this enemy.

Friday, April 25, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 1:15 p.m.
Obamacare’s rocky start and uncertain future

During this event, experts with many different views on the ACA will offer their predictions for the future.   

No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.