Are We Underestimating Iran?
Days after a ‘mysterious’ attack on four oil tankers near the Strait of Hormuz, President Trump said he would rather go to war with Iran than stand by as the nation pursues nuclear weapons.
This is typical negotiating rhetoric we’ve seen Trump use repeatedly with Iran and North Korea.
“I will not let Iran have nuclear weapons,” Trump told reporters on Sunday. “I don’t want to fight. But you do have situations like Iran, you can’t let them have nuclear weapons – you just can’t let that happen.”
Earlier this month, the Pentagon pulled all nonessential staff from Iran and dispatched a carrier strike group and bomber task force to the Arabian Sea. The move came in response to an ‘unspecified’ threat from Iran.
On Sunday night, US military officials confirmed an explosion near the US Embassy in Bagdad. There were no casualties. Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia blamed Iran for an attack on an oil pipeline.
Like Trump, Saudi officials say they don’t want to go to war with Iran but will defend themselves if necessary.
“If the other side chooses war, the kingdom will fight this with all force and determination and it will defend itself, citizens and interests,” said Saudi Minister Adel al-Jubeir. “We want peace and stability in the region, but we won’t stand with our hands bound as the Iranians continuously attack…The ball is in Iran’s court.”
The increased tensions with Iran are a direct result of the Trump Administration’s pressure campaign, which many believe could lead to war.
“If Iran or its proxies respond to US pressure in ways that draw American blood or deal a major blow to critical oil infrastructure in the region, things could quickly get out of hand,” warns Colin Kahl, former National Security Adviser under Vice President Joe Biden.
“Unlike in the latter years of the Obama Administration, there are currently no high-level lines of communication between Washington and Tehran to manage a crisis. And hard-liners on all sides seem keen for a fight, looking for opportunities to escalate, rather than de-escalate, tensions.”
The pressure campaign on Iran began with Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Obama-era nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions. This week, Trump claimed the Iranian economy had been “devastated” by the ending of the deal.
In April, the White House said it would no longer exempt any countries from US sanctions blocking the purchase of Iranian oil. Large importers China and Turkey said they would not comply with US sanctions.
Last month, Trump announced additional sanctions targeting Iranian metals (Tehran’s second-largest source of export revenue).
The ultimate goal of the sanctions is to force Iran to stop funding terror and stop pursuing nuclear weapons; or, as Sec. of State Mike Pompeo puts it, ‘ to start behaving like a normal country.’
Iran says it never pursued nuclear weapons but will begin enriching uranium at higher levels if another nuclear deal is not reached by mid-June.
Some experts believe Iran already has nukes and may have had them before the signing of the JCPOA. As stated in a 2016 assessment on nuclear missile threats:
“Iran sacrificed its overt civilian nuclear program to deceive the Obama Administration, to lift international sanctions, to prevent Western military action while a clandestine military nuclear program no doubt continues underground…We assess, from UN International Atomic Energy Agency reports and other sources, that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons.”
The assessment was written by a team of Reagan and Clinton Administration officials, including former CIA Director R. James Woolsey Jr. and former NASA head William R. Graham.
The assessment predicts Iran is building a missile fleet using its known network of underground tunnels. “At the time of its choosing, Iran could launch a surprise EMP attack against the United States by satellite, as they have apparently practiced with help from North Korea.”
An electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack is a burst of radiation created by a nuclear explosion. An EMP attack could be launched with a single nuclear weapon and delivered by freighter, balloon, or satellite. If detonated at high altitude, the attack could cause widespread blackouts and explosions threatening millions of American lives and our very culture.
Last year, the Air Force published a report urging the White House to take immediate action against the existential threat posed by a nuclear EMP attack from Iran or North Korea. The White House did not respond.
Editor’s note: So far we only have reports that Congress has been briefed and some of the Democrats are not convinced. So we know that Iran is doing something different, than before, but we don’t know if that is a complete account.
It was said before that Iran was only a year away from having a nuclear weapon. If we are indeed facing a nuclear Iran (and I suspect Mr. Trump has more information on this than we do) then I prefer Trump’s aggressive posture, rather than Obama’s appeasement philosophy that may have allowed Iran to continue its work uninterrupted.
Iran has never had any particular reason to be truthful in its negotiations, and every reason to hide its plans and intentions. The Obama Administration failed miserably in Iran’s containment. Hopefuly Trump can do better.