The accord announced today between the United States, its European allies, Russia, China and Iran is one of historic proportions and will have lasting consequences for the region and the world. Whether these consequences will be for good or ill is unclear at this point, and hinge primarily on the reemergence of Iran into the global community as a responsible actor. The risk remains upon the intentions of the Iranian government and the international community’s ability to fully verify Iran’s compliance.
From a technical standpoint, the terms of the agreement do not reduce Iran’s nuclear infrastructure to the level where it would be impossible for Iran to acquire enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon. The deal would leave approximately 5,000 centrifuges in operation, an amount that most nuclear analysts agree is enough to enrich uranium to the level and in the quantity required for a nuclear device. Another 1,044 centrifuges will remain installed at its enrichment facility at Fordow, although these would not be used for enriching uranium under the terms of the agreement. Furthermore, the centrifuges that Iran must remove for compliance are to be put in storage inside of Iran, rather than be dismantled or shipped out of Iran, leaving open the possibility of their reinstallation at a later date. Even under a best case scenario, the agreement will leave Iran with a nuclear breakout time of twelve months.
For any of the restrictions placed upon Iran in this deal to have desired effect, Iran must have the intention to hold to both to letter and spirit of the agreement. The success of the agreement also relies on our inspectors having unabated access to all elements on Iran’s nuclear facilities, and that Iran will not engage in any clandestine nuclear activity. Iran’s past behavior does not give confidence that this will be the case.
The deal also does nothing to limit Iran’s ballistic missile development. In fact, the deal would accelerate its development by lifting arms embargoes against Iran concerning ballistic missiles after eight years and incentivizing them by taking away their nuclear power projection as means to becoming world power. Iran will be receiving relief from nearly all sanctions currently imposed on it. It is almost certain that Iran will use a portion of this influx of funds to expand the development of its missile programs, making its arsenal more numerous, capable, accurate, and destructive. Even while under the severe sanctions over the past decades, Iran has amassed an arsenal of 800-1000 ballistic missiles capable of threatening and projecting power against the GCC, Israel, and parts of Europe. Iran may also invest in longer ranged missiles capable of threatening the United States.
As such, the United States, Israel, our European and GCC allies must be ever vigilant and proactive in taking measures to ensure regional stability and global security for the very real possibility that this deal will fall through. As the Secretary of Defense Ash Carter today released in his official statement on the Iran Deal:
“The Department of Defense is today, and will always be ready, to defend the United States and our interests. Our military — including tens of thousands of U.S. forces in the Middle East — are full speed ahead maintaining a strong presence in the Gulf. We remain prepared and postured to bolster the security of our friends and allies in the region, including Israel; to defense against aggression; ensure freedom of navigation in the Gulf; and check Iranian malign influence. We will utilize the military option if necessary.”
Regional missile defense of Israel, Europe and Gulf Cooperation Council is a central strategic pillar in assuring and protecting our allies no matter what the eventual consequences of the deal will be.
This historic deal with Iran is a mandate for increased missile defense capability in the region and to deploy real interoperability of these systems with our allies.
MDAA’s mission is to make the world safer by advocating for the development and deployment of missile defense systems to defend the United States, its armed forces and its allies against missile threats.
MDAA is the only organization in existence whose primary mission is to educate the American public about missile defense issues and to recruit, organize, and mobilize proponents to advocate for the critical need of missile defense. We are a non-partisan membership-based and membership-funded organization that does not advocate on behalf of any specific system, technology, architecture or entity.