October 24, 2017
“Tough World, part II”
Nothing is more challenging and important to deal with right now than Iran, which is under the control of Islamic radical megalomaniacs bent on hegemony in this region, as well as the destruction of Israel. (Pictured: Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei)
Should they – Heaven Forbid! – acquire nuclear weapons, they would be far more dangerous than they are now.
Barack Obama betrayed his own nation, and Israel, as well as the Sunni Arab nations, with his duplicitous support of the 2015 Iran agreement. I won’t look at his motivation, as it is moot at this point. What matters is the imperative of undoing the “legacy” of that Iran deal, which left the world less safe rather than more.
Preventing Iran from developing nuclear capability is the overriding concern, but not the only one. There are several ways in which the parameters of the agreement adopted by Iran and the P5+1 nations, officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), failed to provide safeguards against Iranian aggression.
 There is no stipulation in the JCPOA that Iran cease support for terrorist groups (most notably but not exclusively Hezbollah). In spite of urgent requests that this be put on the agenda during negotiations, Obama refused. Once harsh economic sanctions were lifted with the finalizing of the agreement, Iran was able to provide Hezbollah and others with a great deal of additional funding, without violating the agreement.
It is the practice of the Iranians to utilize proxies in their quest for regional hegemony: they support such groups as the Houthis in Yemen, who fight their wars for them. Additional funds acquired via sanctions relief also enabled these proxy wars to be bolstered, increasing regional instability.
 Inspections are inadequate.
Iran is adamant that there will be no inspection of its military sites.
“…if there is only one demand in the whole world which will be rejected and if there is only one wish that will be taken to the grave, it is the Americans’ demand to visit our military centers,” Lieutenant Commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Brigadier General Hossein Salami, said.
Additionally, even for sites where theoretically inspection is possible the process is convoluted – with inspectors required to first submit concerns in writing – so that Iran has time to hide evidence. It can in some instances take as much as a month before inspectors can be on the scene.
Thus, it is impossible to certify that Iran is complying with restrictions. Declarations that there is no evidence that Iran has breached the agreement are meaningless if snap inspections without warning cannot be done on all sites.
 The JCPOA does not forbid Iranian development of intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be used to launch a nuclear device. (A UN Security Council resolution, approved at the time of the nuclear accord, does explicitly call on Iran to refrain from such activity.)
There is strong evidence that Iran is developing and testing such ICBMs.
“Iran has test-fired nuclear-capable ballistic missiles at least ten times since July 2015…Iran has shown no signs of slowing the development of its ballistic missile program, which is inextricably intertwined with its nuclear program. In fact, long-range ballistic missiles have historically always been developed in unison a nuclear weapons program.” (Emphasis added)
In September, Iran announced it had tested a ballistic missile with a range of 1,200 miles – identified as the Khorramshahr missile, which can carry several warheads – and would keep developing its arsenal.
 Most disturbingly, the restrictions on Iranian nuclear development are temporary: There is a “sunset clause” that “paves the way for an unreconstructed Iran to become a nuclear weapons threshold state in  years. That’s not a calculated risk. That’s a formula for strategic disaster.
“Under the JCPOA, by 2030 Iran will be permitted to build an industrial-size nuclear industry. It will be able to operate an unlimited number of advanced centrifuges.”
And so, what we see is that Obama did not stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power, he merely kicked the can down the road so that whatever happened would not be on his watch.
There are those who argue that the agreement is better than nothing, because we have years now during which Iran is prevented from becoming a nuclear state, whereas it might well have become one already if not for the deal. But this is not quite the case:
Had there been no deal, Iran would still have been struggling under the weight of massive sanctions that would have been a prohibitive factor in its advancement of nuclear capability. But now sanctions have been lifted.
Iran is doing whatever it can, away from the eyes of inspectors, to advance that capability. It is certainly developing the ICBMs to deliver a nuclear device. And it has sites such as Fordo with centrifuges in place that can be brought back on line. Equipment such as centrifuges needed for uranium enrichment (which are almost certainly being improved in the interim) have not been permanently disabled but merely taken out of service temporarily.
Once restrictions expire, Iran will be on the cusp of developing nuclear weaponry.
This brings us, then, to President Donald Trump.
I had written in my last post about determined friends that have the ability to stand strong. In Donald Trump I see such a friend.
What is most important is that he clearly gets it, and is intent on acting to remedy the current situation.
In September, at the UN, Trump said (emphasis added):
“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program.
“The Iran deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.”
What he decided to do, as a first step, is to decertify the Iran deal– a step announced on October 15th.
Decertifying is not withdrawing from the agreement. It is declaring – per a requirement of the Congressional Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act – that the administration cannot certify that Iran is in compliance with all aspects of the agreement.
Congress can then decide whether to reinstitute sanctions, withdraw from the agreement, or work to improve it.
The president left open the possibility of cancelling the deal entirely:
“In the event we are not able to reach a solution working with Congress and our allies, the agreement will be terminated. It is under continuous review and our participation can be canceled by me as president at any time.”
Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, is among many commentators applauding Trump’s efforts on Iran:
“For the moment, at least, the president has signaled that the United States will stop short of walking away from the agreement entirely. But he has made clear that a significant renegotiation of the deal’s terms is a condition of America’s continued participation in it…
“Will all this be enough to fix an agreement than many – including the president himself – consider fatally flawed? It may not be. But the Trump administration should be given credit for trying to more completely address the contemporary threat posed by Iran. That process starts with a sober look at the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and an exploration of how to fix its flaws and mitigate its consequences.” (Emphasis added)
Berman focuses on one aspect of Trump’s approach that perhaps has not been given sufficient attention in the media (emphasis added):
“…the most notable aspect of the Administration’s new approach toward Iran is its plan for a full-scale assault on the regime’s most powerful strategic asset: the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC).
“’The Revolutionary Guard is the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia,’ the President outlined in his October 13th remarks. ’It has hijacked large portions of Iran’s economy and seized massive religious endowments to fund war and terror abroad.’
“…This is why targeting the IRGC has emerged as an essential component of the Trump administration’s efforts to ‘counter the regime’s destabilizing activity and support for terrorist proxies in the region.’”
Trump has authorized the Treasury Department to impose targeted sanctions against the “officials, agents, and affiliates” of the IRGC.
The Guard, he declared, “remains the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism,” providing assistance to Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah and other terrorist networks.
How can anyone who has been tracking the malevolent progress of groups such as Hezbollah not heartily applaud this new position? At long last there is a president who has noticed, and cares!
All of this is particularly important now, because the situation to our north is heating up.
On Saturday, five rockets landed in the Israeli Golan, launched from Syrian territory; the IDF responded by destroying three Syrian artillery cannons.
At first it was thought that the rockets, while a matter that had to be considered seriously, were “spillover” from the Syrian civil war. The situation was then reassessed and it was decided that the rockets were launched at Israel deliberately (emphasis added):
“…one senior officer in Northern Command (Res.) explained…’The chance that it was unintentional is very low: There were no battles taking place in the area from which the rockets were launched.
“’It is very possible that this is a message from Syria,’ he continued. ‘Our main fear at the moment is that this will become routine, because we have noticed the region heating up since March.
“According to General (Res.) MK Eyal Ben-Reuven…, ‘the shooting may manifest the first signs of Iranian pressure on the Syria-Israel border in the Golan Heights.
“’Iran has an unequivocal interest in an escalation on our border,’ he said.”
As I wrote last time, we are monitoring the situation to our north very intensely and taking appropriate actions to protect ourselves.
And so, in no way do I intend to suggest here that the American president must act for us. Nonetheless, it’s reassuring to know that he sees the situation clearly and is acting.
Having done this heavy and important posting, I want to switch gears completely before closing. In the face of numerous problems, Israel is doing fantastic work with regard to medical innovations and discoveries. It’s been too long since I’ve provided this sort of good news. A brief synopsis in each instance of just some of the work being done, with solid reasons for pride:
“Israeli researchers discover Alzheimer’s trigger
“Researchers at Be’er Sheva’s Ben-Gurion University discover protein which may be key to preventing Alzheimer’s.”
“Kite Pharma, founded by Israeli-American professor Arie Belldegrun in 2009, announced that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted regular approval for its cancer treatment, Yescarta.
“The product, which the FDA approved on a fast-track process, is based on innovative technology that recruits the body’s immune system to identify and destroy cancer cells…
“The treatment is based on CAR-T therapy, which was developed by Israeli researchers at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. It represents a breakthrough in hematologic cancer treatment…”
Israeli researchers target, shrink metastasized growths
Bar Ilan researchers discover enzyme supporting metastatic cells, develop compound to eliminate them.
© Arlene Kushner. This material is produced by independent journalist Arlene Kushner. Permission is granted for it to be reproduced only with proper attribution.