President Trump withdrew the United States from the Iran nuclear deal, saying, “it is clear to me that we cannot prevent an Iranian nuclear bomb under the decaying and rotten structure of the current agreement.”
The 2015 deal, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was supposed to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon and instead “positively contribute to regional and international peace and security.”
But during the two years and 10 months that the JCPOA has been in place, the Iranian government:
- Increased Iran’s military budget by 37 percent.
- Provided the Bashar al-Assad regime of Syria with billions of dollars every year.
- Supported terror groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah with nearly $1 billion combined.
- Increased Iran’s stockpile of missiles.
“Not only does the deal fail to halt Iran’s nuclear ambitions, but it also fails to address the regime’s development of ballistic missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads,” the president said.
A continuing threat to peace
Tom Karako, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic International Studies, said one of the shortcomings of the deal is that it does not specifically address Iran’s missile program. “Iran has the largest and most diverse missile program in the Middle East,” Karako said.
Iran’s stockpile of missiles includes thousands of short- and medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles capable of striking Israel and southeast Europe.
As recently as March of 2018, the brigadier general who leads Iran’s Revolutionary Guards’ aerospace division told a news service, “Our production [of missiles] has increased three-fold compared to the past.”
While the agreement has been in effect, Iran has caused havoc throughout the Middle East and beyond. Iranian forces in Syria, for example, fired 20 rockets into the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights on May 10, 2018, according to the Israeli military. This marked the first direct rocket attack on Israel by Iran, as Iran’s attacks against Israel and other countries in the region are usually carried out by proxy groups.
Elsewhere, “The Saudis and the Emiratis are engaging with Iranian missiles on a weekly basis in the Yemen Missile War. That’s been going on since early 2015,” said Karako.
This activity signals no intention to positively contribute to peace and security. Instead, when considered alongside Iran’s nuclear archive recently revealed by Israeli intelligence, experts believe there are strong reasons to think Iran’s missile program flies in the face of the spirit of the JCPOA.
“Ballistic missiles are a very common delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons,” said Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation. “There’s concern that these separate programs are really meant for the same purpose, and that is to give Iran a fully capable nuclear weapons program.”
As President Trump said, the deal “didn’t bring calm, it didn’t bring peace, and it never will.”