What about Iran’s “JCPOA”?

By Lawrence A. Franklin

Gatestone Institute

December 15, 2015

Iran is cheating already -- or is it? Iran has not signed anything, so presumably it cannot be cheating on something it never agreed to – as predicted on these pages half a year ago. The self-appointed P5+1 (the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany), elected by no one but themselves, should be embarrassed to find that they have made a deal with no one but themselves.

The lavishly touted and lavishly dangerous "Iran Deal" not only paves the way for Iran to have nuclear weapons, as it was planning, anyway; it also rewards Iran's repeated violations of the Non-Proliferation Treaty -- which it did sign -- with up to $150 billion. With a punishment like that, we should all start violating commitments.

Iran's recent missile tests have, been undermining the rationale of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which the P5+1 signed with itself. If Iran is concerned that its missile tests might have violated multiple UN Resolutions, a paltry detail such as that clearly has not bothered anyone before, so why should it bother anyone now?

The media's emphasis on the JCPOA has sadly neglected any in-depth coverage of Iran's own comprehensive plan of action, which seems to consist of developing nuclear weapons, ballistic missiles and related systems to deliver them.

While Western diplomats were congratulating themselves on their JCPOA arrangement, Iran sent a "slap-in-the-face" signal to the Free World by launching an Emad ["Pillar"] ballistic missile on October 10. On December 8, State Department spokesperson John Kirby indirectlyacknowledged the launch of a second ballistic missile, fired on November 21. Kirby was quick to point out that test was not a violation of the JCPOA.

The launches are violations, however, of UN Security Council Resolution #2231, which bans ballistic missile tests by Iran. Although these tests do not defy the letter of the JCPOA, they do defy the spirit of it. Even though the initial missile test was denounced by the U.S. and allied UN representatives, no action has so far been taken against Iran. The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, did condemn the October test and probably will also condemn the second test. But if this is outrage, that may be the extent of it.

What seems clear is that Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps (IRGC), which controls the ballistic missile program, is attempting to goad the West into additional punitive action against the Islamic Republic. Such response would serve to strengthen the hardline opposition to the JCPOA in Iran. Further, if the United States does nothing but issue condemnatory rhetoric, it will be interpreted by the regime as additional confirmation that the U.S. desires a nuclear agreement at virtually any cost.

The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA), after its investigation into the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of Iran's past nuclear weapons development activities, was forced, thanks to Tehran's lack of cooperation and transparency to deliver an inconclusive initial report on December 2[1].

The Iranian regime's officials, such as Deputy Foreign Minister Sayed Abbas Araghchi, have demanded the immediate lifting of the 12 UN Resolutions against Iran when the IAEA Board of Governors votes on the final PMD report on December 15.

The IAEA cannot therefore confirm with certainty that Iran does not already possess a nuclear bomb, or whether or not Tehran is presumably still pursuing one. The IAEA Board of Governors is, nevertheless, not expected to challenge Tehran's assertion that it ceased any such activities more than a decade ago.

Iran currently has several types of ballistic missiles in varying stages of development. The range of these missiles extends from the regional to the intercontinental -- with a version of one missile capable of reaching the continental United States. The most touted operational system is the Shahab ("Meteor") program, with several follow-on versions. The Shahab system has benefited by seemingly close cooperation with North Korea's ballistic missile program, Russian nuclear weapons engineers who were unemployed after the Soviet Union imploded, and China's direct and indirect technical assistance.

The principal threat to regional states, particularly to Israel, is that one does not know what one does not know -- in this instance, the stage of Iran's nuclear weapons programs.

Action by the U.S. Congress to inquire why the public disclosure of Iranian ballistic missile tests is being disseminated in dribs and drabs is long overdue, especially as America's technical intelligence collection methods provide immediate and certain knowledge of such tests.

Although the U.S. also cannot be certain of Iran's intentions, it would be advisable to assume that Iran means what it says: "Death to America" and "Death to Israel." If one assumes that these statements, made by a regime that stones women to death, are not mere propaganda, but ideological commitments, the time to demonstrate the Free World's resolve by way of strategic military exercises on Iran's borders is long overdue.