Iran’s overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige, and regional influence have led it to pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so. We do not know whether Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons, but it’s highly likely. If they do, their history says they’ll use them.
One of the largest problems in the region is Iran, which represents a clear and present danger to the region, and eventually to the world. They are still a US State Department designated Islamic state sponsor of terrorism, they have and they continue to violate international sanctions, and they continue to communicate hatred in their rhetoric coming from senior members of their government—to include their top Mullahs. There are other huge problems in the region — namely that a civil war (sectarian war) is going on between the Sunni and Shia, backed by Iran, China, Russia and others—with absolutely no end in sight, and no clear U.S. policy. A new Middle East is struggling to be born, and, if we are not careful, the United States will be left out of the growth of this region and our security at home will be placed at further risk (as the revelation of the Khorosan Group makes clear, this process is already well underway).
The unfinished revolutions in the Middle East in places such as Yemen and parts of Africa and our ongoing transition in Afghanistan are all being taken advantage of by Iran, ISIS and AQ. The Russian and Chinese influence in the region, especially in the energy acquisition and development arenas, weapons proliferation, and economic dominance and interdependence, are all clearly impacting the security of the United States.
But the main problem is Iran. They have every intention to build a nuclear weapon. They have stated it many times, they have attempted well over a decade to move rapidly to nuclearizing its capability, and their enrichment to twenty percent and their rapid move to develop a ballistic missile program, are examples of their continued preparedness to weaponize a missile for nuclear delivery.
Iran’s stated desire to destroy Israel is very real. Iran has not once contributed to the greater good of the security of the region. Nor has Iran contributed to the protection of security for the people of the region. Instead, and for decades, they have contributed to the severe insecurity and instability of the region, especially the sub-region of the Levant surrounding Israel (i.e, Southern Lebanon, Gaza, and the Border region along the Golan Heights on the Syrian side of the border).
Iran killed or maimed thousands of Americans and Iraqis during our fight in Iraq during the period of 2003 to 2011, and since 2005, they have also provided limited support to the Taliban and the Gholam Yahya Front in Herat, which is the Afghan city on the border with Iran. We defeated AQ in Iraq despite Iranian support to AQ and Shia militias—but the Obama administration’s policies in the region have squandered this victory.
With regard to Iranian nuclear ambitions, there is the matter of incomplete verification. Iran’s leaders made it clear the furthest they will go is to allow International inspectors (IAEA) only “managed access” to nuclear facilities, and only with significant prior notification. This makes it nearly impossible, as a matter of full transparency, to have real “eyes on” the state of Iranian nuclear development to include their missile program.
The real power in Iran - the Revolutionary Guard - has never signed on to the agreement or negotiations being thrown together by the Obama Administration either. This is important because they have the responsibility to secure the nuclear material. If they don’t sign on and it’s just the Iranian Foreign Ministry, the US has zero assurance that Iran will abide by agreements related to the nuclear materials use, not to mention the problems it will create with inspections.
Making matters worse, we don’t know the full scope of Iran’s nuclear effort itself. The intelligence community does not have complete “eyes on" the totality of the Iranian nuclear program, nor have we have identified all of Iran’s nuclear facilities and processes. Moreover, given the history of the nuclear age, it is prudent to conclude that there are elements of Iran’s nuclear program that still remain hidden from view (Iran has demonstrated in their own actions, they cannot be trusted).
The notion of “snap back” sanctions is fiction. The Iranian regime is already more economically stable than it was in November of 2013, while the international sanctions coalition that brought Tehran to the table in the first place is showing serious signs of strain. It’s unreasonable to believe that under these conditions we will be able to put the “Regime Sanctions Team” back together again. Those who think Iran’s nuclear program is a stand-alone program are delusional. The perceived acceptance of Iran’s nuclear program is likely to touch off a dangerous domino effect in the region, as other countries, such as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, look for strategic counterweights to the emerging Iranian bomb, already manifesting in fairly open KSA outreach to Pakistan for nuclear capability. Iranian rogue state behavior is on the rise and increasing. Parallel to its nuclear dialogue with the west, the Islamic Republic has stepped up its destabilizing activities in its neighborhood. This includes massive support for the Assad Regime in Syria, as well as backing for Yemen’s Shi’ite Houthi rebels, covertly supporting the Taleban in Afghanistan, actively advising, assisting, and accompanying Iraqi Shia militias inside of Iraq, maintaining pressure in Lebanon, and they continue to provide weapons and other arms to Hamas in the Gaza. The true effects of Iranian nuclearization on the region are unknown and staggering. We can anticipate significant proliferation as a result of the Iranian nuclear deal, but we cannot be certain of its extent or its effects. This enormously complicates America’s existing security arrangements in the Middle East, as well as the political and military guarantees we will need to provide to Iran’s neighbors. So what’s happening in the Middle East and South Asia? Iran - that’s what’s happening, and it’s going unchecked by the US, whose President is simply wanting to get an agreement on the table - even a bad one.