Two weeks ago, Iran’s top military nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, was killed by unknown attackers in an upscale village near the capital of Tehran. A senior member of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Fakhrizadeh was the brain and the passion behind Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. He is the fifth Iranian nuclear scientist killed over the last decade. His responsibilities included being the chief of Iran’s AMAD program, a group whose mission was to explore ways to use their military for the research and development of a nuclear bomb. Iran is blaming Israel for the assassination. While Israel and the United States may, or may not, have been aware of the planned attack, more than likely the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK) carried out the attack. The MEK is an Iranian exile group that opposes the regime and has helped in similar operations in the past.
Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for the “definitive punishment” of those behind the killing of Fakhrizadeh and indicated that retaliation would be at a time and place of their own choosing. More than likely, such retaliation would come by the hands of Iranian proxies, as that is their modus operandi.
Let’s be clear: Iran is unrepentant and even now proceeds unabated with its march toward acquiring a nuclear weapon. The threat of a nuclear-armed Iran is real and—barring drastic action—will take place at some point in the future. Iran’s leaders are not rational, and its deploying even a single nuclear bomb at some point is a very real existential threat to the region, to Israel, and possibly to the United States. In the past, no amount of negotiation and promise of easing sanctions against the rogue nation has halted Iran’s commitment to research and development of such weapons. Even the flawed Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) did not stop Iran’s hiding of the AMAD program and its movement of weapons research to deep underground facilities that are difficult to strike.
Iran possessing a nuclear weapon would upset security in the region. Iran having nuclear weapons would lead to other nations in the area developing their own nuclear capabilities. It would be nuclear proliferation on steroids. There would be little the world could do to stop this domino effect. It would mean the world’s most dangerous country would have the world’s most dangerous weapon. The Gulf States and other Arab nations rightfully view Iran as the major threat to their safety and security.
The world would be faced with another North Korean dilemma, where negotiations and humanitarian aid did nothing to stop North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. We now face a situation on the Korean peninsula where our only option is to warn Kim Jong Un not to use the weapons in their arsenal and then hope it never happens. However, Kim possesses the weapons as a defensive threat so as to stay in power; it is a “leave me alone” strategy. Iran has no such incentive. They have vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the map. They routinely export violence even now. There may be little the world could do to stop Iran from either detonating such a weapon at some point or, more likely, providing a smaller version of the weapon to a crazed terrorist proxy who would have no qualms about using it. The danger of Iran having a nuclear weapon cannot be overstated.
The allies of the United States seem oblivious to the threat, or at least unwilling to address it. For example, Europeans recently voted against extending the arms embargo at the United Nations Security Council. The U.N. has never addressed Iran’s continued violation of the ban on its testing of ballistic missiles, missiles designed to carry nuclear warheads. It is the European signatories of the JCPOA who have refused to abandon that plan, which only delays Iran’s possession of a nuclear weapon by a decade; it does not prevent it. Our European allies have sought ways to circumvent the sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States.
Progress on the Iranian nuclear program continues. They have enriched more nuclear material than allowed under the JCPOA—twelve times that amount according to the IAEA. They have increased the number of centrifuges despite the restrictions contained in the Iran nuclear deal. They have transferred these centrifuges to secure facilities deep underground. They have added two enrichment sites at Natanz and Fordow. Iran recently boasted via state-run video that they now have ballistic missiles that can be operated from underground tunnels. According to the Military Times, Iran now possesses enough low-enriched uranium to make at least two nuclear weapons if they choose to pursue a bomb—a process that would take months, not years.
Iran objects vociferously to Fakhrizadeh’s killing. They want a Biden Administration, and they want it to lift all sanctions as a precursor to any negotiations. Iran wants the world to do nothing. North Korea wanted that as well—and got it. John Brennan, the CIA director in the Obama Administration, apparently wants the world to do nothing as well. He called the assassination of Iran’s military nuclear scientist “reckless” and “criminal.”
The short-term ramifications of Iran possessing a nuclear weapon are alarming. The long-term consequences are an indescribable threat to the region and to the entire world. One cannot adequately articulate or predict the second and third order effects of doing nothing to stop Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.
At present, we have options. They may not be great options; however, they are immensely preferable to a nuclear-armed state-sponsor of terrorism whose expressed purpose is to destroy Israel and the United States. And Europe, and the wider world—in spite of their unwillingness to take a stand, increase sanctions on Iran, and stop this threat—will regret the day that they could have acted and chose not to. We must unite globally to deal with the reality of what we face and do what is necessary to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
As we aggressively fight to stop Iran, defend Israel, and protect America at the U.N. and on Capitol Hill, we urgently need your vital support.
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