Thanks to the Nuclear Deal, Iran Is on Its Way to Making Atomic Weapons

President Trump recently called the 2015 agreement with the Islamic Republic “an embarrassment to the United States.” Agreeing, Ray Takeyh argues that the deal all but guarantees that Tehran will have a fully operational nuclear-weapons program within ten years:

The key architect of the [accord] was not Secretary of State John Kerry or his European counterparts but Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s most reliable bomb maker, the head of [Iran’s] Atomic Energy Organization, Ali Akbar Salehi, and his team of technicians and diplomats, for one simple reason: he knows more than we do about the program he has devoted his life to developing.

Salehi, a fluent English speaker with a PhD in nuclear engineering from MIT, realized the folly of his predecessors. He understood that merely adding primitive IR-1 centrifuges [used for enriching uranium] to Iran’s stock might marginally expand its nuclear capacity but could not be the foundation of a state-of-the-art atomic apparatus. For Iran to have a viable nuclear-energy program and a sneak-out weapons option, it had to phase out the clunky IR-1s and replace them with more advanced IR-8s. . . .

[As one] member of Iran’s negotiating team, Hamid Baidinezhad, [explained] on August 23, 2015, “we came to the conclusion that the transition period that would take us to the industrial stage would start at the beginning of eight years. . . After the completion of that transitional period, Iran’s nuclear program would witness an industrial leap and Iran would enter the state of complete industrial enrichment [of uranium].” And this was precisely the research-and-development plan Iran negotiated: the agreement stipulates that “Iran will continue to conduct enrichment [research and development] . . . including [of] IR-4, IR-6, and IR-8 centrifuges.” An American negotiating team that was so concerned about stages of sanctions relief and inspections seems to have conceded this point as part of the negotiating trade-offs.

Salehi [himself] has touted this achievement [in the Iranian press]. . . . In a clever move, he preserved Iran’s nuclear modernization efforts while trading away IR-1s that Iran would phase out even if the JCPOA had not come along.

Read more at Politico

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, John Kerry, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy

The Right and Wrong Ways for the U.S. to Support the Palestinians

Sept. 29 2023

On Wednesday, Elliott Abrams testified before Congress about the Taylor Force Act, passed in 2018 to withhold U.S. funds from the Palestinian Authority (PA) so long as it continues to reward terrorists and their families with cash. Abrams cites several factors explaining the sharp increase in Palestinian terrorism this year, among them Iran’s attempt to wage proxy war on Israel; another is the “Palestinian Authority’s continuing refusal to fight terrorism.” (Video is available at the link below.)

As long as the “pay for slay” system continues, the message to Palestinians is that terrorists should be honored and rewarded. And indeed year after year, the PA honors individuals who have committed acts of terror by naming plazas or schools after them or announcing what heroes they are or were.

There are clear alternatives to “pay to slay.” It would be reasonable for the PA to say that, whatever the crime committed, the criminal’s family and children should not suffer for it. The PA could have implemented a welfare-based system, a system of family allowances based on the number of children—as one example. It has steadfastly refused to do so, precisely because such a system would no longer honor and reward terrorists based on the seriousness of their crimes.

These efforts, like the act itself, are not at all meant to diminish assistance to the Palestinian people. Rather, they are efforts to direct aid to the Palestinian people rather than to convicted terrorists. . . . [T]he Taylor Force Act does not stop U.S. assistance to Palestinians, but keeps it out of hands in the PA that are channels for paying rewards for terror.

[S]hould the United States continue to aid the Palestinian security forces? My answer is yes, and I note that it is also the answer of Israel and Jordan. As I’ve noted, PA efforts against Hamas or other groups may be self-interested—fights among rivals, not principled fights against terrorism. Yet they can have the same effect of lessening the Iranian-backed terrorism committed by Palestinian groups that Iran supports.

Read more at Council on Foreign Relations

More about: Palestinian Authority, Palestinian terror, U.S. Foreign policy