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Now Is the Time to Stop Iran From Building a Nuclear Weapon

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Between the dates of November 3rd until November 14th, the "BLUE FLAG" exercise took place at "Uvda" Air Force Base in Southern Israel. This exercise is the first international "Fifth Generation” exercise taking place in Israel involving the F-35 aircraft. The Blue Flag exercise is of paramount strategic importance and will have a significant impact on the Air Force, the IDF and the State of Israel as a whole. The exercise will include over a thousand air crew, technical and administrative personnel from different air forces. IAF Photo by: Amit Agronov

Iran Brags About Capacity to Build A-Bomb – Sometimes, you have to take a political figure at his word—even in Iran, where government officials are known for their mendacity and deceptiveness. And it’s especially important to listen when he’s talking about something as high-stakes as Iran’s nuclear program and imperial ambitions.

On July 17, Kamal Kharrazi, Iran’s former foreign minister and a senior adviser to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, told Al-Jazeera TV:

… we can easily produce 90% enriched uranium. … Iran [also] has the technical means to produce a nuclear bomb, but there has been no decision by Iran to build one.

While we already had a good understanding of Iran’s uranium enrichment capability, the news here is the public admission by a senior government official that Teheran has the technical capability to build a nuclear weapon.

Previous public comments had danced around the issue. For example, in April, former Iranian parliament member Ali Motahari, told an Iranian news outlet, “When we began our nuclear activity, our goal was indeed to build a bomb. There is no need to beat around the bush.” He then added, “If we could have kept it [a secret] until we performed a [nuclear] test, then it would have been a done deal. Like in Pakistan.”

Kharrazi’s comments are noteworthy because they were given to a foreign news network; Al-Jazeera TV is based in Qatar.  More importantly, his comments  came just days after President Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid jointly issued the Jerusalem Declaration, in which the United States declared a “commitment never to allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, and that it is prepared to use all elements of its national power to ensure that outcome.”

Western intelligence and policy communities have long questioned how long it would take Iran to weaponize highly enriched uranium to build a functional nuclear weapon. It’s no small scientific and technological achievement.

Indeed, it’s one thing to be able to produce the necessary amount of fissile material to build a nuclear weapon; it’s another thing to be able to make that highly enriched uranium into a device that will go boom.

Indirect negotiations between Iran and the United States over reviving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have been bogged down since last year and completely stalemated since March.

It’s possible, therefore, that Kharazzi’s shocking announcement is little more than bluster—a ploy to improve Teheran’s bargaining leverage to extract more concessions from Washington on its maximalist demands.

Still, the United States must be prepared for a worst-case scenario in which diplomacy fails and Iran decides to build and field nuclear weapons.

Consequently, it’s time to move beyond the Biden administration’s flagging efforts to bring Iran back into a “longer and stronger” nuclear deal and take a tougher approach toward Tehran and its run-away nuclear program. Instead of complacently continuing open-ended diplomacy that seems to be going nowhere, here are six steps the United States should take.

Ramp up U.S. sanctions on Iran. The Administration relaxed its enforcement of sanctions in a misguided effort to lure Tehran back into the nuclear deal. That needs to be reversed. More money in Iran’s pockets only means more trouble for U.S. interests, including terrorism and its nuclear and missile programs.

Work with European allies to “snap back” U.N. sanctions. The United Kingdom, France and Germany also are part of the 2015 nuclear agreement and can trigger the automatic reimposition of multilateral U.N. sanctions on Iran under the JCPOA. The sanctions snapback would help to isolate Iran politically and economically.

Develop, with allies, a favorable military force posture in the Persian Gulf region to balance Iran. The Pentagon, its allies, and partners should muster sufficient capability in the region to dissuade, deter, and defeat Iranian acts of aggression. They should also jointly develop contingency plans for strikes on Iran’s nuclear program, if necessary.

Strengthen the security of regional allies and partners. The U.S. should help bolster regional defenses against Iranian ballistic and cruise missiles, rockets, and armed drones—some of which could eventually be armed with a nuclear warhead—by developing an integrated air defense system that also enhances the security of U.S. forces in the region.

Bolster Israel’s ability to deter Iran. Washington should accelerate the sales to Israel of aerial refueling tankers, precision-guided munitions, and bunker-buster bombs capable of destroying Iran’s fortified underground nuclear facilities in case military action is necessary to prevent an Iranian nuclear breakout.

Expand the Abraham Accords. The Biden Administration should strongly support the expansion of the 2020 accords to include Saudi Arabia and other Arab states threatened by Iran, clearing the way for expanded Arab-Israeli security cooperation against Tehran.

Washington must take decisive action now. Failure to do so will only: increase Iran’s threat to the U.S., its allies, and partners in the Middle East and beyond; embolden international terrorism; drive nuclear proliferation in the Middle East, and destabilize the region, deeply undermining American interests.

James Phillips is Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy. Peter Brookes is Senior Research Fellow for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter-Proliferation in Heritage’s Center for National Defense.

James Phillips is Senior Research Fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs in The Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy. Peter Brookes is Senior Research Fellow for Weapons of Mass Destruction and Counter Proliferation in Heritage’s Center for National Defense.

20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Henrietta Hunter

    July 21, 2022 at 4:25 pm

    ok

  2. GhostTomahawk

    July 21, 2022 at 5:08 pm

    Sounds like surgical strike time.

  3. J

    July 21, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    There’s no time like the present to address, well, you know. The thing. Come on man!

    I don’t see anything substantive coming out of Washington for year(s). Not until the Biden administration leaves office.

    Saudi Arabia just gave Biden the proverbial finger… and that’s where we stand in building a meaningful alliance in the middle east.

  4. Arash P

    July 21, 2022 at 6:46 pm

    Authors in this article have suggested some novel policy recommendations for the US government in dealing with Iran’s nuclear program.

    Just kidding! The same old “let’s threaten Iran more so that they hopefully dismantle their nuclear program” approach which simply doesn’t work!

    How can these experts who obsessively follow developments in Iran not understand by now that Iran responds to aggression and pressure against it by escalation. Neither Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign nor Israel’s campaign of assassinations have resulted in Iran backing down. Quite the opposite. Each of those acts have only resulted in Iran escalating it’s nuclear activity.

    The only possible exception is perhaps US invasion of Iraq in 2003. But that was a different era. Neither US is the same country today nor Iran. Iran had very little in the way of air defense systems at the time and little to no ballistic missile retaliatory strike capabilities.
    Not to mention a very small nuclear program at the time with only a few old IR1 centrifuges in the not yet fortified Natanz facility. Which meant Iran had no way of sprinting to a nuclear bomb. Iran at the time simply did not have many options.

    Not today!

    More sanctions or snapback on Iran will only result in Iran taking the only logical step, to abandon NPT, assemble nuclear devices and test them and perhaps target shipping of hostile nations in the region. I am sure US economy will be just fine with oil prices at 500 USD pb!

  5. Koose E Mack

    July 21, 2022 at 6:55 pm

    I agree with The Article…but The Right Time was Years Ago. It may already be Late.

    • cobo

      July 21, 2022 at 8:01 pm

      Constant threat of nuclear war is why warring with nuclear powers needs to happen NOW, before the blackmail, regardless of its actual threat value, overwhelms even warriors.

      • Paddy Manning

        July 22, 2022 at 2:23 pm

        Big takeout here?
        Dems have spent 10nyears being letally wrong on Iran and Trump was right.
        That’s going to be a hard pill for journos to swallow…

  6. Eric-ji

    July 21, 2022 at 7:11 pm

    There’s nothing we can do to prevent it. Nothing short of bombing all their facilities, and even then there’ll be one or more we miss/didn’t know about. They still get a bomb & use it. When they do it’s likely they’ll then be pulverized. Would anyone mourn them? Not many if any.

  7. Dr Scooter Van Neuter

    July 21, 2022 at 7:51 pm

    What’s so maddening is the fact Israel was prepared to do the heavy lifting during Obozo’s term until he stopped them.
    This situation, like most, just gets more serious the longer it festers.

  8. pagar

    July 21, 2022 at 8:29 pm

    Iran has publicly stated (again and again) its alleged or so-called nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only.

    But if one day, iran decides to make a bomb, who has the moral authority to tell iran what to do.

    Europe? US? Nah!!! Western media? Even less so.

    Biden? A man with a lifetime behind him greatly filled with lying & cheating ??? Might as well go to Lucifer for authority to decide for iran.

    Europe, US, msm, all are goebbellian outfits with zero moral authority. Could hitler or hirohito have any moral authority to tell US not to initiate or start famous manhattan project back in ’42?

    Only the SCO or BRICS has the moral authority to tell iran what to do or not what to do..

    The almighty US military very soon (maybe tomorrow) will get its hands on hypersonic weaponry and US has traditionally displayed no qualms deploying its best or latest killer weapons abroad.

    Now is the time for iran to purchase nukes from russia, instead of developing them!

  9. ATM

    July 22, 2022 at 12:11 am

    The only reason that Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is bogged down is Biden is slow and does not have enough energy for it. Just imagine how overwhelmed he will be if we start a war

  10. David Chang

    July 22, 2022 at 1:35 am

    God bless people in the world.

    The Heritage Foundation should be the education institution that promoting Creation and Ten Commandments, but not help Arab countries to promote the worship of Muhammad and Mecca, not help Israel to promote the worship of Jerusalem.

    Because Jesus say unto us: See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

    God bless America.

  11. BKMart

    July 22, 2022 at 7:28 am

    I PROMISE you that if the world doesn’t step up and stop the insane Iranians from building nuclear weapons Israel will act, like their lives depended on acting…,

  12. Ezra Teter

    July 22, 2022 at 8:13 am

    I wonder how expensive this would make gas.

  13. alberto

    July 22, 2022 at 9:59 am

    What nonsence.
    If the saudies, turques, pakistani, israelites have a problem with the iranians, they could all have their secterian war alone.
    There have never been any success story of democracy coming from outside any country in the history of mankind.

  14. Stephen Kennedy

    July 22, 2022 at 12:26 pm

    Iran has talented physicists and as North Korea has demonstrated, that is the most essential thing in developing a nuclear weapon. What North Korea also demonstrated was that the government of Iran has to be willing to let the physicists fail and learn from their mistakes without fear of punishment from their leaders. The real reason Iraq never developed a nuclear weapon was not because of the raid on their reactor which would only have delayed the development of a nuclear weapon but was due to the fact that anything less than a fully successful test was taken by Saddam Hussein as an act of personal betrayal. The result was that Iraqi physicists essentially did nothing rather than take the chance that a test would fail and anger Saddam.

    Kim Jong Un received his BS in Physics and understood how difficult the task was that he was asking them to do. I also have a degree in Physics and I am sure that Kim learned, as I did, that failed experiments are inevitable and that you may actually learn more from them than you would from a successful experiment because you brood over a failure and think about what you might have done differently. North Korea’s first nuclear test yielded less than one kt and in some ignorant circles was the butt of ridicule. Their sixth nuclear test was a hydrogen bomb that had a yield of over 300 kt. Kim knew his physicists were his most valuable resource and he had to give them the opportunity to learn. The critical thing in a nuclear weapon is a design that will allow the bomb to stay together long enough for maximum fission to take place and in the case of a two stage weapon it has to stay together long enough for fission – fusion- fission reactions to maximize. This requires testing in order to develop a successful design. As an aside, Israel has never tested its weapons so it is unclear how well they will work in practice.

    It is not known how Iran’s leaders would react to an initial test that only had a small yield. Would they be like Kim and let the physicists learn from a first disappointing result or would they be like Saddam Hussein and punish them?

    If Iran does test a nuclear weapon I believe that we should not panic and over-react, It was a shock when Russia, China, India, Pakistan and North Korea first developed a nuclear weapon but the world did not end. Iran will realize that having nuclear weapons only deters advesaries from launching their own nuclear attack or attempting regime change. In the type of conflicts that Iran engages in, having nuclear weapons is of no value.

    • Paddy Manning

      July 22, 2022 at 2:27 pm

      “Indeed, it’s one thing to be able to produce the necessary amount of fissile material to build a nuclear weapon; it’s another thing to be able to make that highly enriched uranium into a device that will go boom…”
      Lad high school students could put together the schematic for an Abomb and indeed have done so, pre internet….

  15. Error403

    July 22, 2022 at 9:08 pm

    Iran has repeatedly stated its nuke program is strictly intended for PEACEFUL purposes (generating power) but if one day, it decides to build a nuke weapon, what the fuck has the west got to worry about.

    The west needs to really worry about biden recently visiting saudi arabia (land where chopping human heads still being legally practised) to love-kiss their ass and biden’s recent congratulatory praise on the ‘day of sacrifice’ where countless cows, goats and camels had their throats slit all over the world.

    What does the book of revelation have to say about the mohammedian religion started in saudi arabia. It is the (usurpist) lamb that speaks with the voice of the dragon.

    The west can’t stop people obeying or worshipping the voice of the dragon, but it sure can hell avoid kissing their ass, or praisin them, or selling them tons of weapons, or worrying if an iranian bomb could pose a danger to gulf states.

  16. Leon Lou

    July 23, 2022 at 11:06 am

    In summary, the authors just want to give money to Israel. This is always the answer for the ISRAEL FIRST LOBBY. Give money to Israel. Give something to Israel. Do something for ISRAEL. Take resource from poor American community and pour it into ISRAEL. ISRAEL, ISRAEL, ISRAEL, Did I mention ISRAEL?

    • Arash P

      July 23, 2022 at 1:32 pm

      Exactly!
      They have come up with the perfect formula.
      Have a strong lobby of people, some of whom are bought and some of whom are simply sympathetic to you due to religious/cultural ties (cough cough) and milk the largest economy in the world. A portion of that money then can go to maintaining the said lobby.

      Net gain for Israel, net loss to America!

      Not to mention all the enemies for America Israel has been creating in the Mid East.
      Russia and China are not more Islamic than USA and yet you don’t see middle eastern Muslims hating on those countries!

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