Obama and Nuclear Iran: Promoting Peace or Destruction?

I will begin by discussing the key points of the nuclear deal President Obama has tentatively negotiated with Iran. The following information from The Economist outlines main points concerning what Iran is expected to do. One: reduce their centrifuges (machines that enrich uranium) from 19,000 to 6,000, and of those 6,000, 5,000 will be spinning. These will be first generation centrifuges and more advanced models cannot be used for 10 more years. Two: turn their second enrichment facility that is hidden away in a mountain, Fordow, into a physics research center. Three: reduce their supply of low-grade enriched uranium (which can be spun to weapons-grade material) from 10,000 kg to 300 kg for the next 15 years. Four: destroy the core of their heavy-water reactor at Arak that produced weapons-grade plutonium and not build another one for 15 years. On first appearance, this may seem like a cohesive agreement.

When taking a closer look, the agreement actually leaves out very important factors. The Weekly Standard’s William Kristol highlights these forgotten pieces in his article “A Nuclear Iran?” According to Kristol, the deal doesn’t seem to cover what’s important: the fact that Iran may be developing nuclear weapons. It allows Iran to maintain a veil of secrecy regarding its military plans and its past. It limits inspections that would prevent Iran from furthering its development of nuclear substances and restricts sanctions that are currently preventing funding from flowing to Iran.

The reason why Iran needs restrictions in the first place is because the regime has proven it cannot be trusted to keep its word regarding nuclear action. Chindozie Ezeozue shows how Iran has breached its agreement to the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), an international treaty to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, various times in recent years. First, in August 2002, it was revealed that Iran was building two secret nuclear sites – a uranium enrichment plant and research lab and a heavy water production plant in Arak; second, in September 2003, the UN found traces of enriched nuclear weapons; third, in February 2004, Iran secretly acquired nuclear parts from other countries.

President Obama, who is pushing negotiations to allow Iran to develop nuclear energy, is quoted as questioning Iran’s clandestine actions. The Jerusalem Post contained an article that brought to light Obama’s apparent contradiction. During a Q&A session at the Saban Forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington in December 2012, President Obama said,

“In terms of specifics, we know that they don’t need to have an underground, fortified facility in order to have a peaceful nuclear program [referring to Furdow]. They certainly don’t need a heavy water reactor at Arak or some of the advanced centrifuges that they currently possess for a peaceful nuclear program.” Three years ago, President Obama was skeptical that Iran’s actions were purely for the purpose of peaceful energy production. Now, however, the president is conceding to them and is trying very hard to negotiate an agreement by which they are able to produce nuclear energy, despite the haze surrounding their “peaceful” intentions.

President Obama is not the only one to have cast doubt on Iran’s “peaceful” intentions. In the article cited above, Kristol holds the opinion that “the progress of the Iranian regime toward nuclear weapons is the threat to the well-being of Israel, the overall success of American foreign policy, and any hopes for peace and stability in the Middle East.” In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Nour Malas and Rory Jones point out that leaders of other regional Arabian countries, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt are also hesitant about the deal, as they feel Iran is a dangerous regime that needs to be monitored closely. According to the Council on Foreign Relations, “The U.S. State Department considers Iran the world’s ‘most active state sponsor of terrorism.’ U.S. officials say Iran provides funding, weapons, training, and sanctuary to numerous terrorist groups–most notably in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Lebanon–posing a security concern to the international community.” The same report goes on to say the State Department fears a nuclear Iran because of its heavy involvement with terrorists: “Iran’s declarations that it has successfully enriched uranium and developed new missile technology have heightened alarm in the United States and other countries that the Islamic Republic might transfer weapons of mass destruction  to militants or armed groups.”

President Obama’s persistence to negotiate with a dangerous regime that has failed to uphold its pledges of restricting its nuclear power development would be admirable if it were not jeopardizing the well being of the Middle East. He is feebly dealing with a country that is known to sponsor terrorism and threaten peace. Indeed the Israel National News compiled a list of threats they made against Israel. The Iranian president is quoted as saying; “The Imam [Khomeini] set long-term goals for the day the occupying Zionist regime is no longer in the region. The formula for this move must be discussed in the government.”  Additionally, the Times of Israel cited significant threats Iran made to the US, saying things such as any threat, no matter the size, America makes to the regime will make their “warships be sunk to the depths of the sea” and cause the US to “collapse from within.” Even in light of the threatening violence, President Obama has treated Iran as a fledgling country trying to develop nuclear energy to help save the planet, rather than destroy it.      

In the face of this ever-existing threat of nuclear and quite literally earth-shattering destruction, President Obama, as the leader of the most powerful country in the world, should stop negotiating with Iran and should instead maintain a steadfast resolve to uphold sanctions and halt nuclear development, imposing a more exhaustive system that monitors the regime’s actions. It will not bring about political peace, but it will guarantee a higher level of political control on a regime that notoriously breached peace treaties and international agreements. It will control a regime that supports international terrorists. It will control a country that threatens violence upon America’s allies and America itself.  Thus, President Obama must stop conceding to their whims and begin instead to “benevolently coerce” Iran, not in the direction of unnecessary nuclear power and weapons of mass destruction but in the direction of peace and cooperation.

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