Benjamin Netanyahu said in 1992 that Iran was three to five years away from a nuclear weapon. That was 27 years ago, and Iran still has not tested nukes. But hyping the Iran threat has become a cottage industry for the Israel lobby, which could lead to miscalculation and war.
As John Mearsheimer wrote in The New York Times, “Although there has not yet been a significant military clash, the United States has effectively declared war on Iran.” The Stuxnet computer worm that destroyed hundreds of Iran’s nuclear-related centrifuges was an act of cyberwar.
Despite this background, Iran signed the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council (China, United States, United Kingdom, France and Russia) plus Germany and the EU, agreeing not to pursue nuclear weapons for 10 years.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the other participants agreed that Iran was observing the agreement. Iran continues to support terrorism abroad, but it has not invaded another country for 100 years. It also assisted the U.S. counterterrorism effort after 9/11, offering information on al Qaeda members fleeing Afghanistan. The U.S. and Israel, in contrast, have attacked nine Muslim countries.
Trump nonetheless abrogated the nuclear agreement and re-imposed sanctions, which according to the BBC, he did principally to spite Obama.
In response, Iran exceeded the 300 kilogram uranium stockpile limit imposed by the JCPOA.
It also announced that it would further enrich uranium, and would restart its Arak reactor, probably to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons.
Iran has not built a bomb up to now, possibly because of fear that Sunni states like Saudi Arabia would follow suit. Also, any nuclear attack on a U.S. ally would provoke overwhelming retaliation, which makes a nuclear weapon more status symbol than usable weapon.
Meanwhile, to defend Israel, the U.S. provides some $4 billion in assistance every year, more than $10 million per day, which frees Israel to offer the universal health care and heavily subsidized college education that the U.S. can’t afford.
Trump’s policy towards North Korea is as incoherent as his Iran policy. He vowed over 30 months ago to solve the North Korea nuclear problem. His stated goal was complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.
The only results of Trump’s photo ops with Kim Jong-un have been broken promises on missile testing and North Korea’s nuclear stockpile. North Korea hasn’t given up a single nuclear weapon, nor even provided an inventory of what weapons they have; it has conducted missile tests, which threaten allies, as recently as July 24. American and South Korean intelligence agencies believe North Korea continues to produce uranium.
What Trump has done is to legitimize Kim Jong-un on the international stage and to embarrass himself with his imbecilic statements about “falling in love” with the Korean mass-murderer.
The reality is that North Korea is very unlikely to denuclearize, as previous agreements have shown:
- 1985: North Korea signed the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, foreswearing nuclear weapons.
- 1992: North Korea signed an agreement to halt its nuclear program, and not to “possess nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities.”
- 1994: North Korea signed the Agreed Framework to halt its nuclear program.
- 1999: North Korea signed an agreement to end missile tests.
- 2005: North Korea signed another agreement to halt its nuclear program.
- 2007: North Korea signed an agreement to halt its nuclear program for the fourth time.
North Korea has violated every one of those agreements. Concurrently, the North has never stopped its military provocations against the South, including sinking ROKS Cheonan on March 26, 2010, killing 46, and has a history of sending sabotage teams into South Korea.
It’s unlikely Trump knows this history of failure; his real agenda is self-promotion, not substance. Unlike most leaders, who make decisions based on national interests, Trump makes decisions based on personal interests and whoever flatters him.
It’s no surprise that he has no foreign policy accomplishments; he threatened KJU with fire and fury, and got nothing but photo ops for his brinksmanship. Predictably, he recommended KJU for a Nobel Peace Prize and then lobbied Japan to nominate him.
Typical of Trump’s egocentric approach, he did a cosmetic renegotiation of NAFTA and claimed a personal triumph, although Congress refuses to approve it.
After he withdrew from TPP, a trading partnership that had excluded China, the other nations invited China to join, another Trump “victory.” He rejected the Paris Climate Accord because he apparently confuses climate change with daily weather changes.
He is now talking about negotiating a virtual rewrite of the JCPOA with Iran but with his name on it.
Narcissism as policy.
Tom Maertens served as White House National Security Council director.
during the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.