I have always been shocked by the way some of the foreign-policy community treats the Iranian nuclear threat—as though it were an academic problem from some distant, remote corner of the universe. Not only do they feel that Iran can be contained, as Russia, China and North Korea have by the threat of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), but they believe that we in the United States are immune.
The Islamic Republic of Iran, through its terror proxies—in particular, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and their offshoot, Hezbollah—has a very active presence just under our noses, particularly in the tri-border area of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, and a growing and active presence within the continental United States.
Take, for example, the opening arguments against Alexei Saab of Morristown, N.J., who is charged with being a Hezbollah spy and planning attacks in Washington, New York and Boston.
Many in our foreign-policy establishment and academic community simply fail to grasp that Iran is a brutal, revolutionary theocracy with messianic zeal that does not want to limit this zeal to the Middle East; its leaders have hegemonic aspirations.
Iran has managed to surround Israel with a wall of fire—with Hezbollah in Lebanon and as many as 150,000 missiles in the north, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the south.
Last week, anther revealing story broke on the Islamic Republic of Iran’s national television, in which Ali Motahhari, a “reformist” member of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament, said: “From the very beginning of our nuclear activities, our aim was to build a nuclear bomb. There is no need to beat around the bush.”
In some quarters of the American government today, including among many members of the current administration, this news should be quite disturbing. For example, regarding the nuclear deal of 2015, the International Crisis Group states on its website that it “enshrined a core compromise the Crisis Group had advocated since 2003: acceptance of a limited, tightly monitored uranium enrichment program in Iran in return for that country’s integration into the global economy.”
This is extremely important because Robert Malley, who is leading the U.S. negotiations in Vienna, is the former president and CEO of the International Crisis Group. The entire premise that has predicated the negotiations is that if America sweetened the deal enough with the lifting of sanctions, Iran would not develop a nuclear bomb.
In fact, Iranian chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri-Kani understands America’s negotiating position very clearly, saying in November: “The very term nuclear negotiations is rife with error. … The goal is to lift the sanctions.”
Most people who follow this issue are aware that Iran has far exceeded the cap of acceptable uranium enrichment that was proscribed in the deal: 3.65%. Iran has already surpassed 40 to 42 kilograms of highly enriched uranium at the 60% level.
According to an April 11 report from the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), it is “a common fallacy” that Iran requires 90% highly enriched uranium to build nuclear explosives.
“With this quantity, an enrichment level of 60% suffices to create a relatively compact nuclear explosive; further enrichment to 80% or 90% is not needed,” it said.
Iran has also been hard at work at intercontinental ballistic missiles. It doesn’t merely want them to go from Tehran to Tel Aviv, but from Tehran to Washington, D.C., and New York City.
These vexing facts serve to illustrate just how clearly wrongheaded these negotiations have been.
Sarah N. Stern is founder and president of the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), a pro-Israel and pro-American think tank and policy institute in Washington, D.C.