Iran's President Hassan Rouhani (3rd L) and Iranian Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan (2nd L) stand in front of the new air defense missile system Bavar-373, in Tehran, Iran August 21, 2016.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Iran is systematically testing the boundaries of the nuclear deal it struck with the West, and the Obama administration has repeatedly swept this under the carpet, acting as “Iran’s lawyers” instead, a senior Israeli security expert has warned.
Dr. Emily Landau, head of the Arms Control Program at the Tel Aviv-based Institute for National Security Studies, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that a string of incidents over the past six months has proven that “there is a continued struggle between Iran and the US. It is real, and is here. Iran is continuing to push the envelope, trying to get as much as it can, even within the confines of this deal,” she said, referring to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which was reached last year.
The upcoming elections in the US represent an opportunity for Israel to establish a new dialogue with the next administration to formulate a response to Iran, Landau argued. While the US has stated that Iran is implementing its side of the deal, “Israel can’t be satisfied with that,” Landau said, due to a host of “worrying dynamics and other issues” that Washington is ignoring, as well as the fact that “the JCPOA is tremendously flawed.”
Landau referred to a report published last week by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), headed by former IAEA inspector David Albright, who has sought to maintain a neutral stance on the Iran nuclear deal, she said.
The report cites information that Iran received a number of exemptions from Washington ahead of the implementation of the JCPOA in January this year. Exemptions include not counting enriched uranium that had been converted into other chemical forms, which may have allowed Iran to surpass its 300 kilogram cap of low enriched uranium.
A recent press conference by State Department spokesman John Kirby saw him introduce the term “usable” uranium as a means of justifying this, Landau said. Kirby also made reference to a secret joint commission with Iran, which he used as a “shield of confidentiality to ward off questions.”
Other incidents Landau referred to include the revelation that inspections of the Parchin nuclear site were concluded as part of a side deal between Iran and the UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, with no American involvement.
“It was not even clear if Congress knew those details,” Landau said.
Landau also cited a July Associated Press report, which was reportedly based on a secret document showing that in 11 years, restrictions on Iranian uranium enrichment would begin to be lifted, rather than the previously believed 15 years.
“All these cases are creating a growing lack of confidence in the [Obama] administration regarding the things it is saying on the Iran deal,” Landau said.
Recent developments will help create a new reality a decade from now, in which Iran will be “much stronger vis-avis world powers. Then, no one will be willing and able to stand up to Iran during the crunch time,” Landau warned. Israel must remain highly attentive to these developments, and not base its evaluation of the Iranian nuclear threat solely on whether Tehran is abiding by the JCPOA or not.
The radical ayatollahs are set to keep their hold on power in Iran even after Supreme Leader Khamenei leaves power, due to the new makeup of Iran’s Assembly of Experts, which picks supreme leaders, Landau argued. “They, together with the Revolutionary Guards, have the real hold on power. There is no basis, right now, for dreams of moderation. Yet the US is acting as if we are on the road to a changed Iran.”