Ever since the Ayatollah Khomeini and his Islamist storm troops took over Iran in 1979, the driving force of the country’s rulers has been (1) destroy Israel; (2) establish Iran as the hegemonist of the Middle East; and (3) drive out all Western influences from the region. Their efforts to create a nuclear arsenal has been part of their strategy to accomplish these goals.
Sanctions and endless negotiations have been speed bumps, but the porous “deal” President Obama has engineered will probably amount to no more than another speed bump to such a determined adversary.
Experts here are expressing plenty of concerns. Even former Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns, while endorsing the deal as “the best alternative,” has conceded that Iran could cheat and that a military option should remain available.
Former Sen. Joseph Lieberman says the inspection and verification provisions aren’t intrusive enough. Access to some installations would require 24 days notice. There is no way to know for certain that Iran will reduce its number of centrifuges by two-thirds, as it has agreed.
U.S. intelligence may not be able to determine conclusively the moment Iran attempts a break-out and we cannot rely on the IAEA because the Iranians have deceived it for years. Yet, President Obama says the only alternative to his deal is war. This is a false choice.
The alternative is renewed peace through strength. As President Reagan proved, it is the most effective deterrent to aggression. The Iranians know that the United States has the air power to destroy these facilities as a last resort; however, they are convinced President Obama will not use it.
The Iran regime may think twice if Congress were to strengthen Israel’s capabilities. At a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, there were two members, Democrat Grace Meng of New York and Republican Randy Weber of Texas, who said we should give the GBU-57A/B Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) to Israel. That is the “Bunker Buster” bomb.
Alas, the MOP weighs 30,000 pounds and Israel’s F15s and F16s cannot carry such a heavy bomb. Congress should consider something similar to the World War II “lend-lease” program with Israel, providing MOPs and the B-52H bombers to carry them. We could lend the Israelis the B-52 bomber until the Iranian threat had subsided. The Iranians don’t think Mr. Obama will use military force, but they will think twice about President Netanyahu. Only a credible military threat will deter Iran from cheating.
Matthew Kroenig of the Council on Foreign Relations has written in Foreign Affairs of the targets: “the uranium-conversion plant at Isfahan, the heavy-water reactor at Arak, and various centrifuge-manufacturing sites near Natanz and Tehran, all of which are located above ground and are highly vulnerable. It would also have to hit the Natanz facility, which, although it is buried under reinforced concrete and ringed by air defenses, would not survive an attack from the U.S. military’s new bunker-busting bomb capable of penetrating up to 200 feet of reinforced concrete.” The Fordow facility near Qom is built into the side of a mountain and represents a more challenging target.
Should the Iranians cheat, restoring sanctions (which took a decade to establish) will be very difficult. Russia, China, and many of the our European want to trade with Iran. Once the sanctions are lifted, Russia may sell its S-300 anti-aircraft system to Iran which could nullify the threat of the non-stealth B-52s and their Bunker Buster bombs. Time is of the essence.
Editor’s Note: This column was co-authored by Robert Zapesochny. It is being reprinted with permission from The Washington Times.