1. POLICY DECISION AND OBJECTIVES: The President

1. POLICY DECISION AND OBJECTIVES: The President of U.S. on
October 13, 2017 refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA) under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act because this agreement
is not in the national security interest of the United States.

A National Security Council meeting has been scheduled
for 12.12.2017 to discuss the status of the Iran nuclear agreement and its
consequences.

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A statement made by the U.S. Representative Peter J.
Roskam (R-IL) outlines the U.S. policy over Iran as follows:

“Iran … must be permanently prevented from
developing a nuclear weapon.  Under its
current terms, the Iran nuclear deal … fails to achieve this goal. The JCPOA only
delays Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon …The current accord not only
fails to address Iran’s support for terrorism, advancing ballistic missile
program, and other illicit activity, but awards Iran’s most hostile actors like
the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps …Remaining part of the nuclear
accord in its current form is not in the U.S. national security interest…A
nuclear-armed Iran would pose an existential threat to our nation…1

 

With respect to nuclear weapons proliferation, Iran is a legitimate
concern of the United States. The U.S. policy on Iran calls to take all measures
to prevent Iran permanently from developing a nuclear weapon, because of Iran’s
expanding power and influence across the Middle East and being the Israel’s
greatest existential threat.

 

2. BACKGROUND / NATIONAL INTERESTS:

 

Iran has presented a security challenge for the U.S. and
its allies since 1979 when Iran’s Islamic revolution ended Western involvement
in the country’s nuclear program. Iran is arguably one of the most significant
national security threat to the U.S. and its allies as it seeks to maintain its
Islamic regime and enhance its military deterrent in the region toward
developing intercontinental missiles and/or nuclear weapons.

 

The worldwide concern over Iran’s nuclear program has
increased after the US president Trump decision to decertify the Iran nuclear
agreement unless it was amended to permanently block
Iran from building nuclear weapons or intercontinental missiles. Contrary, Iran’s
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has denied that Iran is following a nuclear program
and says weapons of mass destruction are forbidden under Islam.

 

The UN Security Council has passed seven
resolutionsii adopted under Chapter VII of the UN Chart, calling for
Iran to suspend its uranium enrichment and comply with its IAEA obligations and
responsibilities. Today only one resolution is in effect, when in July 2015
Iran and the five permanent SC members, plus Germany (P5+1) signed the agreementiii under which Iran agreed to restrictions on its nuclear program in exchange
for sanctions relief. However, the UN resolution 2231, maintain some
restrictions on ballistic missile activities.

 

The 2015 agreement restricted Iran’s nuclear related
activities for 10 to 15 years. After this period expires, the deal will need to
be renegotiated or Iran could theoretically restart its nuclear weapons
program. On the other side Israel has argued that the nuclear issue cannot be chosen
under this agreement.iv

 

The United States and the EU have lifted nuclear-related
sanctions on Iran, because the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has
verified that Iran has implemented its key nuclear-related measures described
in the JCPOA, and the Secretary of State has confirmed the IAEA’s verification.v

 

While a comprehensive Iranian policy review is currently
underway, it is essential to recognize that currently Iran does not possess a
nuclear weapons program. However, disturbingly, some evidence suggests that the
North Korea’s progress in developing a nuclear weapon may have actually
accelerated Iran’s nuclear program, as its latest launches has shown increased
missile capability.vi

 

Below
is a brief history of the main Iranian Nuclear Issue from 2009-2017vii:

 

February
2009 –
The Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) reports that Iranian
scientists have reached nuclear weapons breakout capability. Iran runs tests at
its Bushehr nuclear power plant.

April 2009 – The new U.S. President
Barack Obama, change the previous U.S. policy towards Iran by formally inviting
Iran to talks again.

November
2011 – The
IAEA releases a report saying that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons.

January
2012 – The
IAEA confirms that uranium enrichment has begun at the Fordo nuclear facility
in the Qom province in northern Iran.

January
2012 – The
Director of National Intelligence, David Petraeus says there’s no evidence Iran is building a nuclear bomb.

September
2013 – At a speech at the UN General Assembly Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says “Nuclear weapons
and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and
defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical
convictions.”

July
2015 – A deal is reached on Iran’s nuclear program. The deal reduces the
number of Iranian centrifuges by two-thirds, places bans on enrichment at key
facilities, and limits uranium research and development. The UN Security
Council endorses the nuclear deal.

January
2016 –
International Atomic Energy Agency says Iran has completed all the necessary
steps agreed under the nuclear deal, and that all participants can begin implementing the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

March
2016 – Iran
test-fires two ballistic missiles. US officials say
that the tests do not violate the nuclear agreement (JCPOA).

January
2017 – Iran launches a medium-range ballistic missile, its first missile test
since Donald Tramp became US president.

February
2017 – In
reaction to the January missile test, the US Treasury Department start applying sanctions on 25 individuals and
companies connected to Iran’s ballistic missile program.

September
2017 –
In the UN General Assembly address, President Trump characterized the Joint
Comprehensive Plan of Action as an “embarrassment” to US, contrary Iranian
President Rouhani said that “It will be a great pity if this agreement
were destroyed by rogue newcomers to the world of politics”.viii

October 2017 – The President refused to certify the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
(JCPOA) under the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.

 

It is believed that Iran will continue to expand its
ballistic missile programs, because of the perceived threats from US military
in the Gulf and its neighboring countries Saudi Arabia and Israel which is
nuclear armed (Schindler, 2017).

 

3.
STRATEGY OPTIONS:

1. Maintain the 2015 agreement as long as the
U.S. can ensure that Iran is acting in accordance with its obligations. Even
though the facts surrounding Iran’s Nuclear Agreement Review Act are somewhat
ambiguous maintaining the current agreement in order to meet all requirement foreseen
on it, with ultimate goal to seek multilateral negotiations with Iran and a
return to the P5+1 -party talks about permanently abandon its ballistic missile
and nuclear programs it is the most likely option. Following that, this option
will give evidence to support the rationale that Iran is pursuing the agreement
concentrated on the U.N. resolution, as a rules-based international order that
promotes peace and security.

In
the near term, the U.S. must contain the Iran’s fully compliance with the
agreement, than through negotiations the U.S. would offer less military pressure
and reduced sanctions in exchange for a less provocative Iran in the Region. Moving
forward through the negotiations process the U.S. would seek a roll back of Iran
expansion in Middle East in exchange for a verifiable missile development
program. In mean time, through strategic messaging the U.S. would convey to the
Iran that we are serious about fully compelling the Teheran to reduce their
missile and/or nuclear programs through even preventative strikes.

Several indicators are present to show that Iran is behaving in accordance
with the agreement. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said at the U.N. assembly last
month that Iran remains in “technical compliance” with the deal.ix On the other side the Defense Secretary James Mattis on the beginning of
November said that maintaining the Iran nuclear deal is in the U.S. national
security interest. Moreover, this is reinforced by the beliefs of the U.S.
intelligence agencies that Iran does not currently have a nuclear program and as
far as we know, Iran has not made the decision to restart a nuclear weapon
program.

 

However, as I will explain in the main issues raised by the 2015 nuclear
agreement we {U.S. and allies} can’t confirm hundred percent that Iran is
acting by the agreement, but if we can assess that Iran is fully committed than
we should stay with it because this is in U.S interests. It makes sense that
holding the agreement that the U.S have signed, unless there’s a confirmed
breach, would not have any negative impact on Iran, but there are indications
to the contrary, that the agreement won’t block Iran from building a nuclear
weapon.

 

The current stance of the Iranian government is to continue the implementation
of agreement and its requirements in a verifiable way. However, maintaining the
2015 agreement is not the most likely option to successfully block Iran
permanently from building nuclear weapons, but when measured against acceptable
risk it is the most suitable option that will potentially achieve eventual
conditions, as outlined by the Agreement.

2. Withdrawal from the Iran nuclear agreement and force Iran to renegotiate
its terms.

On
the contrary, the fact that most authorities are in favor of maintaining the Iran’s
nuclear agreement, there are other voices that justify abandoning the agreement
and force Iran to renegotiate its terms, due to a very little international
credence given to Iran’s position that they are implanting it in a verifiable and
peaceful way. After the nuclear agreement act is declared null and void,
sanctions can be imposed on Iran which will force Teheran regime to stop its
development of ballistic missile capabilities, deny access to nuclear
technology and halt its growing aggression in the region.

There
are plenty of statements coupled with facts that indicate withdrawal from Iran nuclear
agreement. According to
former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, John
Bolton, if the President decides to go away from the JCPOA, a comprehensive
plan must be prepared and executed in order to get domestic and international
support. In his Iran nuclear deal exit strategy, he states that:

“The JCPOA’s vague and ambiguous wording; its manifest imbalance in Iran’s
direction; Iran’s significant violations; and its continued, indeed,
increasingly, unacceptable conduct at the strategic level internationally
demonstrate convincingly that the JCPOA is not in the national-security
interests of the United States…”x

The
real question is, how to explain and justify the Iran threat to the U.S. public
and allies. With such a withdrawing, a new reality will be created and the
United States will lost an international consensus over the Iran nuclear
agreement. Richard Nephew, an
expert at Columbia University who worked on
negotiations with Iran between 2011-13, says that decertification of the JCPOA
risk blocking regulations by European Union. On the other side, European Union’s leaders has issued warnings that the Iran nuclear
agreement that was reached in 2015 could not be reopened for negotiation or
changed…xi Contrary, critics of the Iran nuclear agreement argues that
President Trump’s decision to decertify the agreement would force Europe to
renegotiate its terms.

There
is a highly potential risk that if America withdrew from the agreement Iran
will push forward its existed ability before the agreement, to have nuclear
weapons even faster. However, this risk is mitigated by the threat of
preemptive strikes from U.S. or Israel. In addition, if the United States
withdraws from the Iran deal, Russia and China can pursue their respective interests
and block any attempts to reinstate effective sanctions, due to their given
vetoes at Security Council —
creating potential consequences in America’s international commitment.

3. Conduct military preventive attacks
against the main nuclear sites in Iran.

 

This “clearly military dimension” is highly
related with both options above. The real issue with this option is that we do
not know how much Iran’s behavior will move towards its ballistic missiles
capabilities and/or accelerate to nuclear weapons program. As we know, North
Korea is the most significant example in how Iran may and follow its pursuit of
nuclear weapons. Thus, increasing the military presence in and around the
Middle East in order to raise the pressure on the Iranian regime, will
potentially bring the Teheran back to renegotiations of the agreement.
Increasing the military posture is not the most likely option to successfully
bring Teheran again in the table, but when measured against acceptable risk it
is the most suitable option that will potentially achieve eventual renegotiation
of the 2015 terms.

 

As a result of Iran’s unsustainable
policy towards its ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons,
the U.S. military should remain in the Persian Gulf. The Arab and Israel feels
threatened by Iran’s expansion policy. On this regard, I think that at this
point of time Iran’s ballistic missiles program is aimed at the U.S. allies,
but this might change in the near future. One of the reasons might be that Iran
feels that can be attacked by the U.S. navy that is deployed in the Persian
Gulf.

 

A series of preventive attacks launched
against the main nuclear sites in Iran (especially against, Arak Heavy Water
Reactor, Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant, Esfahan Nuclear Technology Centre, Natanz
Enrichment Plant and Tehran Nuclear Research Centre) though using bunker-buster
bombs would likely prevent Iran from ever coming close to build an nuclear
device during the time available.

 

The U.S and allies significant security
concerns over a nuclear Iran illustrate the importance of a U.S. and/or Israeli
preventive strike to destroy or set back any indication on any of the sites towards
the Iranian nuclear program. The fundamental problem underlying these
preventive attacks is collecting quality of intelligence about the status of
the Iran site’s nuclear programs. The U.S. should implement this option depending
on Iranian fully compliance and subsequent verification imposed by agreement. This
strategic option would be a successful end state to the U.S. military and sends
a powerful message to Iran to deny any effort to develop and adequately test ballistic
missile systems capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

4.
ANALYSIS AND COMPARISON OF STRATEGY OPTIONS:

 

How Iran’s nuclear agreement affects the
U.S. interests and Allies?

According to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015xii,
the President shall submit semi-annual report on Iran’s nuclear program and the
compliance of Iran with the agreement during the period covered by the report. The
following elements taken from the Review Act are particularly significant to
identify the adverse effects of the
agreement. The President shall, at least every 90 days, determine whether the
President is able to certify thatxiii:

•Iran is fully implementing the agreement,

•Iran has not committed a material breach
of the agreement,

•Iran has not taken any action that could
significantly advance its nuclear weapons program, and

•suspension of sanctions against Iran is
appropriate and proportionate to measures taken by Iran with respect to
terminating its illicit nuclear program and vital to U.S. national security
interests.

 

Based on the above requirements there are three main
issues raised by the 2015 nuclear agreement which I explain hereafter.

 

The agreement delay but
not prevent Iran’s nuclear weapon program.

At the time of the agreement, Israel intelligence
agencies estimated that it would take Iran as little as one year to produce a
nuclear weapon.xiv The
2015 agreement put restriction on Iran’s activities related with nuclear program
for about a decade, consequently it slows down, rather than prevents Iran to
develop a nuclear bomb. Moreover, warnings from U.S. and Israel have been issued
over the past months regarding Iran’s intention towards acquisition of a
nuclear weapon. The common denominator of most discussion is how long it will take before
Iran being able to get enough uranium for a nuclear weapon?

 

Iran may conduct covert nuclear activity.

Many
analysts argue that Iran may conduct nuclear activity at the covert site during the time frame of agreement. Most of their doubts are based on narrative that “the agreement allows
the IAEA inspections regime to monitor declared nuclear facilities, storage facilities and
supply chains”. Furthermore, they claims that it does not provide access to restricted military sites that could be used for a covert nuclear development program. That is why the
U.S. demand that inspectors access to such sites, are rejected by Iran.

The UN resolution 2231 does not apply to
Iran ballistic missile program.

The wording of
UN resolution are unclear on ballistic missiles. It does not require Iran not to carry out tests related to ballistic
missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons, even though it calls upon
restrictions on ballistic missile related activities. In
addition, the restrictions apply until 8 years after the JCPOA adoption day,
which mean until 2023. On this regard Iran’s missile program
violates the nature of the agreement and it is viewed as a threat to
US – Arab allies and Israel, which both are
concerned about Iran’s expanding influence in the Middle East. Furthermore, the U.S. has applied
several sanctions on
Iran over the program, but Tehran in turn blames on the US for
going against the spirit of the agreement.

 

In sum, Iran says its ballistic missiles are conventional
weapons that are not designed to carry out nuclear weapons even if they are capable
of delivering them. Since Iran is not pursuing development of nuclear weapons,
Tehran argues, the UN resolution does not apply to its ballistic
missile program.xv
However, Iran’s argument won’t last long and it is going to require a strong
intervention to prevent the rising of another nuclear power in one of the
world’s most unstable region.

x

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