Iran Appears Poised for a Surprise Nuclear Breakout

On May 5, an unnamed Iranian official told Reuters that Tehran’s “nuclear program is advancing as planned and time is on [its] side.” Last Monday, the Islamic Republic’s President Ebrahim Raisi noted that his country’s “oil sales have doubled.” For these reasons and others, Andrea Stricker argues, Iran is under no pressure to agree to an updated version of the 2015 nuclear deal. On the contrary, she warns, “protracted negotiations may provide cover for a nuclear breakout.”

A nuclear breakout is not the same as having a functional weapon, although once a proliferator has weapons-grade uranium, preventing weaponization must happen quickly. Tehran could finalize a weapon at a site adjacent to its enrichment facility, a process likely to require several months, given what is known about Iran’s weaponization progress since 2003. Incorporating an atomic weapon on a missile would take substantially longer.

Meanwhile, foreign powers would waver about what to do. The UN would convene meeting after meeting, demanding Iran grant the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) access to suspect sites. But gone are the days of unanimous UN Security Council action—such as that seen in response to North Korea’s 2006 nuclear test or against the first revelations of Iran’s clandestine enrichment program in 2002.

In the end, a U.S. president could be left with the undesirable choice of conducting military strikes, possibly with Israeli help, or accepting a nuclear Iran.

Read more at FDD

More about: Iran, Iran nuclear program, U.S. Foreign policy

How America Sowed the Seeds of the Current Middle East Crisis in 2015

Analyzing the recent direct Iranian attack on Israel, and Israel’s security situation more generally, Michael Oren looks to the 2015 agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program. That, and President Biden’s efforts to resurrect the deal after Donald Trump left it, are in his view the source of the current crisis:

Of the original motivations for the deal—blocking Iran’s path to the bomb and transforming Iran into a peaceful nation—neither remained. All Biden was left with was the ability to kick the can down the road and to uphold Barack Obama’s singular foreign-policy achievement.

In order to achieve that result, the administration has repeatedly refused to punish Iran for its malign actions:

Historians will survey this inexplicable record and wonder how the United States not only allowed Iran repeatedly to assault its citizens, soldiers, and allies but consistently rewarded it for doing so. They may well conclude that in a desperate effort to avoid getting dragged into a regional Middle Eastern war, the U.S. might well have precipitated one.

While America’s friends in the Middle East, especially Israel, have every reason to feel grateful for the vital assistance they received in intercepting Iran’s missile and drone onslaught, they might also ask what the U.S. can now do differently to deter Iran from further aggression. . . . Tehran will see this weekend’s direct attack on Israel as a victory—their own—for their ability to continue threatening Israel and destabilizing the Middle East with impunity.

Israel, of course, must respond differently. Our target cannot simply be the Iranian proxies that surround our country and that have waged war on us since October 7, but, as the Saudis call it, “the head of the snake.”

Read more at Free Press

More about: Barack Obama, Gaza War 2023, Iran, Iran nuclear deal, U.S. Foreign policy