DANIEL VAUGHAN: The handcuffs are off — time to contain Iran

May 11, 2018

The United States is finally free of former President Barack Obama’s “prized” Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — better known as the Iran Nuclear Deal. President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal earlier this week.

And that decision deserves only one reaction: applause.

The deal was an abject failure in every way. It did nothing to slow Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons, and it merely gave cash to a resource-starved country that poured American aid into their military and Hezbollah, the state-sponsored terrorist group of Iran. The most critical section from the official White House statement explaining Trump’s decision added:

The theory behind the … JCPOA, was that the Iranian regime would, in the interests of its own people, trade its nuclear ambitions for economic incentives.

But rather than focusing on behaving responsibly, Tehran has poured billions of dollars into military adventures abroad, spreading an arc of death and destruction across the Middle East from Yemen to Syria.

Meanwhile, the Iranian people have suffered at home from a tanking currency, rising inflation, stagnant wages and a spiraling environmental crisis.

The administration is entirely right on this point: we never witnessed a moderating force in the government.

Before the ink dried on the signature line of the JCPOA, Iran was acting out. In the year after signing the deal, Iran tested eight ballistic missiles in a show of regional strength.

Critics of the Trump administration constantly hammer the point that Iran has complied with the terms of the deal, giving Trump no reason to leave the agreement. But nominal compliance with the Iran Deal still skirted around the real problems, as Noah Rothman points out in Commentary magazine:

Iran can unilaterally deny international observers access to military sites, and it can shield an extensive trove of technical knowledge related to its nuclear program from inspectors. It can import tons of low-enriched uranium, manufacture nuclear fuel, test nuclear-capable delivery vehicles, and restart its centrifuges and develop a stockpile of fissionable material within weeks rather than a year.

None of this is a violation of the terms of the JCPOA and its annexes. This experience has led even some of the deal’s defenders to confess that the regime in Tehran will never be a stabilizing and responsible force.

Between the new treasure trove of information from Israel and Iran’s statements to American media, we know Iran claims they can spin up their enrichment facilities faster than before the deal. Which should leave everyone with the question: If Iran is more capable of enrichment now than before the agreement, what exactly is the United States getting from pumping money and resources into that country?


The U.S. is getting nothing out of the deal.

And our allies aren’t getting anything either. Instead, they are watching a rogue nuclear threat grow, with the United States’ permission, right outside their backdoor.

For months now, Israel has watched Iran use their newfound freedom under the JCPOA to pour resources, soldiers, and terrorists into Syria to support the Assad regime. Those same Iranian forces have been built up for the express purpose of threatening Israel.

Israel has responded with airstrikes that have punished the Iranians extensively. After Iran launched multiple missiles into Israeli airspace over the Golan Heights, Israel hammered Iranian military targets in Syria.

Now Iran — suddenly, after months of inflaming tensions and spreading their military out — says they “don’t want new tensions.”

That quick backpedaling from Iran is what happens when you use actual force against them.

The Iran Deal was never a treaty, and the Senate never ratified it. It was a unilateral action by President Obama, which circumvented our allies, ran around the Constitution to avoid a vote, and was never put before the American people.

And while President Obama rammed the deal down the throats of Americans, his cabinet used the media to shut down dissent.

In fact, Obama cabinet official Ben Rhodes created a gaggle of useful idiots in the press to push the deal. Anyone who questioned the agreement was attacked relentlessly, as Sohrab Amari, an Iranian-American reporting for the Wall Street Journal at the time, saw first hand.

And now those same useful idiots are trotting out the same lies in an attempt to criticize President Trump.

They care more about their legacies than thwarting a revanchist Iran.

There is considerable work ahead for the United States in containing Iran. The administration will restart sanctions for the next 90 to 180 days. Israel and Saudi Arabia will continue to strike and push Iran out of Syria. Everyone in the region will have to work on containing the Iranian terrorist group Hezbollah.

But with the Iran Deal gone, the United States has all of its options and resources open for dealing with a resurgent Iran. The handcuffs and blinders are off, and we can take action.

American power is no longer in retreat.

Again, the only response needed for this decision is applause.

Now let’s get to work.


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Daniel Vaughan

Daniel Vaughan is a columnist for the Conservative Institute and lawyer in Nashville, Tennessee. He has degrees from Middle Tennessee State University and Regent University School of Law. His work can be found on the Conservative Institute's website, or you can receive his columns and free weekly newsletter at The Beltway Outsiders. Connect with him on Twitter at @dvaughanCI.