Our World: Obama’s nuclear contrition

Then and now, Obama and his advisers argued that ballistic missiles are not part of the mullahs’ nuclear project. This claim, which made little sense at the time, makes no sense whatsoever today.

A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage during the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015 (photo credit: REUTERS)
A staff member removes the Iranian flag from the stage during the Iran nuclear talks in Vienna, Austria July 14, 2015
(photo credit: REUTERS)
On Monday, US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Hiroshima. While there meeting with this G-7 counterparts, Kerry strongly hinted that his visit was a precursor to a visit to the site of the first nuclear bombing by President Barack Obama next month.
The irony of course is that for all his professed commitment to ridding the world of nuclear weapons, Obama is responsible for drastically increasing the chance of nuclear war. Indeed, Obama’s own actions lend easily to the conclusion that he wishes to do penance for America’s decision to attack Hiroshima and Nagasaki with nuclear bombs, (and so end World War II with far fewer dead than a land invasion of Japan would have required), by enabling America’s enemies to target the US and its allies with nuclear weapons.
Obama views his nuclear deal with Iran – the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action – as his greatest foreign policy achievement.
Unfortunately for his legacy building and for global security, for the past several weeks news stories have made clear that critics of Obama’s nuclear deal with Iran – who claimed that far from preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the deal would enable Iran to develop them in broad daylight, and encourage Iran to step up its support for terror and regional aggression – were entirely correct.
All of the warnings sounded by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and other leaders have been borne out. All of the warnings sounded by the leaders of the Persian Gulf kingdoms were correct.
Every major commitment Obama made to Congress and to US allies in the wake of the deal have been shown in retrospect to have been false.
Obama told Congress that while the deal did require the US to drop its nuclear sanctions against Iran, the non-nuclear sanctions would remain in place. In recent weeks, media reports have made clear that the administration’s commitment to maintain non-nuclear sanctions on Iran has collapsed.
This collapse is most immediately apparent in the administration’s helpless response to Iran’s recent tests of ballistic missiles.
When Obama and his advisers sold the nuclear deal to Congress last summer, they promised that the binding UN Security Council resolution that Ambassador Samantha Power rushed to pass to anchor the nuclear deal maintained the previous UN ban on Iranian ballistic missile development.
This, it works out, was a lie. The resolution significantly waters down the language. Given the weak language, today the Russians convincingly argue that Iran’s recent tests of ballistic missiles did not violate the UN resolution.
Then and now, Obama and his advisers argued that ballistic missiles are not part of the mullahs’ nuclear project. This claim, which made little sense at the time, makes no sense whatsoever today.
Ballistic missiles of course are the Iranians’ delivery systems of choice for their nuclear warheads.
This fact was driven home last week when the Iranian media reported the opening of a high explosives factory in Tehran. Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehgan participated in the opening ceremony.
According to nuclear experts, HMX or octogen high explosives are suitable for building nuclear triggers. In other words, Tehran just built, in a very public manner, a new facility for its military nuclear program. As Iran’s Tasnim news service explained, HMX is a “high explosive used almost exclusively in military applications, including as a solid rocket propellant.”
Last week at his nuclear conference, Obama said that Iran has been abiding by the letter, but not the spirit of the nuclear deal. But this is another lie. Last summer Obama insisted that the deal would prevent Iran from developing and building nuclear weapons by imposing an intrusive, unlimited inspections regime on all of Iran’s nuclear sites.
But this was a lie. As Eli Lake noted in Bloomberg News last week, in contravention of Obama’s explicit commitments to Congress, Iran is refusing to permit UN nuclear inspectors access to its military nuclear sites.
Not only were UN inspectors barred last fall from visiting the Parchin nuclear military site where the Iranians are suspected of developing nuclear warheads. The UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency admitted recently that far from expanding its access to Iran’s nuclear sites, the deal severely limited it. Out of fear that Iran will walk away from the deal, the US is allowing Iran to block IAEA inspectors.
So while the US gave up its right to unlimited inspection of Iran’s nuclear installations, and consequently has little way of knowing what is happening inside them, the US stands back and allows Iran to develop the means to deliver nuclear warheads which the US cannot know whether or not Iran possesses because it cannot access Iran’s nuclear facilities.
But for Obama, none of this is a reason to stop canceling the sanctions on Iran’s nuclear program. Indeed, as Obama sees things, Iran’s non-compliance with the letter of the deal seems to be a reason to cancel the non-nuclear sanctions as well.
Take the dollarization of the Iranian economy.
Obama administration officials pledged to Congress that in the aftermath of the deal, Iran would remain barred from using US financial institutions and so barred from trading in the dollar.
Yet, in what Omri Ceren from the Israeli Project refers to as a “one-hop, two-hops” process, the administration is allowing Iran to use foreign banks to gain access to the US dollar and dollarize is transactions.
Following his visit to Hiroshima, Kerry traveled to the Persian Gulf where the US’s spurned Arab allies and commanders of the US navy’s Fifth Fleet demonstrated to him how Iran has been emboldened by the deal.
Since it was concluded, they noted, Iran has stepped up its support for terrorism and its regional aggression. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the UAE and other states told Kerry that since the deal was concluded Iran’s support for terrorism and insurgencies has expanded in Yemen and Syria. Naval commanders reported on the four shipments of illicit Iranian arms the navy commandeered en route to Yemen.
Although slightly embarrassed, Kerry was unmoved. He merely maintained Obama’s line that Iran is keeping the letter of the agreement if ignoring its spirit. He insisted that there are moderates in the regime that support the deal – although they have no power.
Then, as The New York Times reported, Kerry said the US would “continue to lift the economic sanctions against Iran that it agreed to as part of the nuclear accord, even while imposing new ones to counter Tehran’s missile launches, an effort now underway at the UN Security Council.”
But again, Russia has blocked further sanctions against Iran. Moreover Russia is doubling down on its deal to sell advanced SU-30 fighters to the Iranian air force. With the S-30, Iran will be able to end Israel’s air superiority and threaten all of its neighbors in the Persian Gulf.
As to air forces, Iran’s Hezbollah proxy have inherited a US-trained one.
According to testimony Middle East expert Tony Badran gave before the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, the Lebanese Military Forces, generously supported by the US, is now a junior partner to Hezbollah.
As Badran put it, “The partnership between the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) and Hezbollah has grown to such an extent that it is now meaningful to speak of the LAF as an auxiliary force in Hezbollah’s war effort.”
At Hiroshima Monday, Kerry and his fellow foreign ministers signed a declaration reaffirming their “commitment to seeking a safer world for all and to creating the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons.”
They went on to pat themselves on the back for their nuclear deal with Iran, which they insisted showed that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty – which the Iran deal effectively gutted – remains “the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation architecture.”
Several commentators have urged Obama not to visit Hiroshima. But really, what would it matter? Obama’s lies about his nuclear deal launched the world on a course where the worst regimes now know that all they need to do to get immunity for their aggression is to develop nuclear weapons while the Obama administration hectors US allies to deplete their own nuclear arsenals.
Visiting Hiroshima and symbolically apologizing for the US strikes that ended World War II would be far less devastating to the cause of international peace than the war Obama ensured by permitting the world’s most prolific sponsor of terrorism to acquire a nuclear arsenal.