Once Tehran has weapons of mass destruction, it is far more costly in life and treasure to stop the regime.
By Majid Rafizadeh, Gatestone Institute
The Iranian regime is nearing an atomic milestone in acquiring nuclear weapons. In the meantime, the Biden administration does not seem to have a clear agenda to prevent the mullahs from going nuclear. Even the New York Times reported that the Islamic Republic is “within roughly a month of having enough material to fuel a single nuclear weapon”.
Ever since the Biden administration assumed office, the Iranian regime has been accelerating its enrichment of uranium to “near weapons grade”. As the International Atomic Energy Agency pointed out:
“Since 23 February 2021 the Agency’s verification and monitoring activities have been seriously undermined as a result of Iran’s decision to stop the implementation of its nuclear-related commitments.”
Threats must not be underestimated
The threats of a nuclear-armed Iran must not be underestimated. First, the regime has frequently threatened to wipe a whole country — Israel — off the map. One of the core pillars of the Islamic Republic has been destroying the Jewish state. It is also one of the religious prophecies of the founder of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, as well as his successor, the current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, that Israel will be eventually erased from the face of the earth.
General Hossein Salami, the chief of Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has made the Iranian regime’s plans vehemently clear: “Our strategy is to erase Israel from the global political map,” he stated on Iran’s state-controlled Channel 2 TV in 2019. Khamenei has also published a 416-page guidebook, titled “Palestine,” about destroying Israel.
Second, the theocratic establishment of the mullahs is anchored in prioritizing the pursuit of its revolutionary ideals, which include exporting its Islamist system of governance to other countries around the world.
The mullahs, in fact, incorporated this critical mission into its constitution. The preamble stipulates: “The mission of the constitution is to create conditions conducive to the development of man in accordance with the noble and universal values of (Shiite) Islam.” The regime’s constitution goes on to say that it “provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the revolution at home and abroad.”
Since 1979, by deploying its IRGC and its elite branch, the Quds Force, Iran’s leaders have managed to expand Tehran’s influence throughout the Middle East from Yemen to Lebanon, Syria, and the Gaza Strip through its proxy groups, including the Houthi militia, Hezbollah, Hamas and the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), a conglomerate of more than 40 militia groups in Iraq.
Third, there is the dangerous likelihood of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of Iran’s proxy and militia groups, or that the Iranian regime will share its nuclear technology with its proxies and allies such as the Syrian regime or the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The Iranian regime has already been setting up weapons factories abroad, and manufacturing advanced ballistic missiles and weapons in foreign countries, including in Syria. These include precision-guided missiles with advanced technology to strike specific targets.
As Iran’s regime is already supplying advanced weapons to its proxies, what would stop it from sharing its nuclear technology to empower its proxies and militia groups, to undermine its perceived adversaries’ national security interests and to expand its reach? The latest UN annual report revealed this year that the Houthis have been receiving significant amount of weapons from the Iranian regime: “An increasing body of evidence suggests that individuals or entities in the Islamic Republic of Iran supply significant volumes of weapons and components to the Houthis.”
Iran has for years been designated by the US Department of State as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. One of Iran’s diplomats, Assadollah Assadi, is on trial in Europe for a failed terror bombing plot in Paris, France, where a “Free Iran” rally was held. Iran continues to use undercover agents or dispatch troops. Several countries, including Kuwait, have detained more than a few Iranians trying to infiltrate their country. Tehran has been found using its embassies and diplomats in foreign countries for such purposes.
Tehran won’t treat adversaries better than its citizens
Just as telling, Iran does not treat its own citizens particularly well. In Iran, as recent reports document:
“Security forces used unlawful force to crush protests. The authorities continued to arbitrarily detain hundreds of protesters, dissidents and human rights defenders, and sentenced many to imprisonment and flogging. Women, as well as ethnic and religious minorities, faced entrenched discrimination as well as violence. Enforced disappearances, torture and other ill-treatment were committed with impunity on a widespread and systematic basis. Judicial corporal punishments amounting to torture, including floggings and amputations, were imposed. Fair trial rights were systematically violated. The death penalty was used as a weapon of political repression. Executions were carried out, one in public and some others in secret. Those executed included people aged under 18 at the time of the crime. The authorities continued to commit crimes against humanity by systematically concealing the fate and whereabouts of several thousand political dissidents forcibly disappeared and extrajudicially executed in secret in 1988. Mass graves believed to contain their remains were subject to ongoing destruction.”
If this is how Iran’s leadership treats its own citizens, what makes anyone think they would treat their perceived adversaries any better? As others have asked: If Hitler had acquired a nuclear weapon, do you think he would have hesitated to use it?
If the predatory regime of Iran’s mullahs obtains nuclear weapons, one can only imagine how much more hostile and emboldened it will become. Once such leaders have weapons of mass destruction, it is far more costly in life and treasure to try and stop them. Iran might not even need to use its nuclear weapons; the threat should be more than enough.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a business strategist and advisor, Harvard-educated scholar, political scientist, board member of Harvard International Review, and president of the International American Council on the Middle East.