U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said it’s time to move beyond narrow technicalities and look at the big picture when it comes to Iran’s compliance with a landmark nuclear deal reached in 2015.
Haley argues that while Iran might be in compliance with the technical details of the agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the limited scope of the deal and the lack of access to inspect Iran’s military sites are potentially putting American national security at risk.
“The biggest concern is that Iranian leaders–the same ones who in the past were caught operating a covert nuclear program at military sites–have stated publicly that they will refuse to allow [International Atomic Energy Agency] inspections of their military sites,” Haley said at the American Enterprise Institute on Sept. 5.
“We were promised ‘anytime, anywhere’ inspections of sites in Iran. The final agreement delivered much less. The promised 24/7 inspections apply only to Iran’s ‘declared’ nuclear sites. For any undeclared but suspected sites, the regime can deny access for up to 24 days,” she said.
Just days earlier, Iran dismissed the idea that its military sites would be open to inspection by the IAEA, the U.N.’s nuclear watchdog, describing it as “wishful thinking.”
Haley also said that by design, the agreement will start to loosen restrictions on the limits of uranium and advanced centrifuges, as well as other nuclear restrictions, after 10 years.
“The JCPOA is, therefore, a very flawed and very limited agreement,” she said.
The nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Iran and the United States as well as other major world powers does not include Iran’s missile program. Instead, its missile development falls under U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231, which combines several of Iran’s activities such as terrorism, arms smuggling, and support for other regimes.
“The deal drew an artificial line between the Iranian regime’s nuclear development and the rest of its lawless behavior,” she said.
Bolstered by a lift in sanctions, Iran has been able to further develop its missile technology and tests, and while these violate Res. 2231, they have no effect on the nuclear deal. Iran’s GDP has grown by 5 percent since the sanctions were lifted, compared to a decline of 4 percent in the two years before the deal was signed.
“The result is that Iran’s military continues its march toward the missile technology to deliver a nuclear warhead. And the world becomes a more dangerous place,” Haley said.
Haley also said that there have been obvious breaches of the nuclear deal itself. Iran exceeded in both February 2016 and November 2016 the allowable limit of heavy water under the agreement. At the time, the Obama administration refused to call it a violation of the agreement.
Too Big to Fail
Haley said the Iran deal “was designed to be too big to fail,” saying that for those who advocate for the deal, all of the dealings with the regime should be subordinated to the preservation of the deal.
“The Iranians understand this dynamic. Just last month, when the United States imposed new sanctions in response to Iranian missile launches, Iran’s leaders threatened once again to leave the JCPOA and return to a nuclear program more advanced than the one they had before the agreement,” she said.
According to Hayley, it’s because of this that the United States should look beyond the strict technicalities of the deal and look instead at whether Iran is a national security threat to the United States.
Haley said that she has briefed the president on her findings, ahead of his decision in October on whether to recertify Iran’s compliance with the deal. Under the Corker-Cardin law, the president is required to report to Congress every 90 days on the Iran deal.
Under the law, the president must not only certify that Iran meets the requirements of the deal, but also determine whether the suspension of sanctions against Iran is still appropriate.
“We must consider the regime’s repeated, demonstrated hostility toward the United States. We must consider its history of deception about its nuclear program. We must consider its ongoing development of ballistic missile technology,” Haley said.
“And we must consider the day when the terms of the JCPOA sunset. That’s a day when Iran’s military may very well already have the missile technology to send a nuclear warhead to the United States–a technology that North Korea only recently developed.”