The Khomeinist Dome: Iran’s Real Nuclear Intentions; What To Do The Day After A Final Nuclear Agreement Is Reached
Dr. Walid Phares had an online article in yesterday’s (April 28, 2014) the algemeiner, with the title above. Mr. Phares is the author of “The Lost Spring: U.S. Policy In The Middle East And Catastrophes To Avoid;” and he advises members of Congress on Terrorism and the Middle East.
He begins by noting, “as a reader of Khomeinist global strategies since the 1980s, and as I [he] has argued over decades in books and articles, Tehran’s regime possesses a much larger nuclear strategy than the simple acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. Over the past few years, the United States and its Western allies have been led to focus on the visible part of the Iranian buildup, missing the much greater construct undertaken over several generations of rulers of the same Iranian regime. Since the “so-called Iranian nuclear deal,” was inked last fall, Washington acts as if it has somehow halted (or at least somewhat slowed) the strategic program of Tehran; and thus, has been rewarding the Ayatollahs, — but the reality flies in the face of this assumption and agreement.”
“The Iranian regime is employing a much larger strategy in order to reach the level of an armed nuclear power,” writes Mr. Phares, “and perhaps ironically, — one of the regime’s strategic policies is to mislead the international community; particularly the U.S., in its campaign to irreversibly transform itself into a nuclear power.”
“The Iranian global construct can be can be perceived as a Khomeinist Dome. Iran’s strategy has been twofold, — and, sustained over decades, not simply implemented over the past few years and months,” wrote Mr. Phares.
“The regime has two simultaneous goals. One is to create a defensive sphere over the forthcoming strategic weapon before it is unveiled, and two is to suppress any internal opposition to the regime’s policies. The “dome,” is a complex integration of Iranian foreign policy: Terrorism backing, using financial luring, exploiting Western weaknesses, while at the same time expanding influence in the region — so that by the time the greater shield is established, most U.S. and allied measures will be useless,” added Mr. Phares.
“The regime knew all too well, years ago, that if they produced one atomic weapon (or even two), without being able to protect it — they would run into the almost certain military action the West and/or by Israel to disable it. They were unable to circumvent this strategic theorem for decades, at least since the end of the Iran-Iraq War of 1980 – 1987. The issue for them, was not obtaining a nuclear weapon; but, how to deter their enemies from destroying it,” argues Mr. Phares.
“Iran did not have the geopolitical or economic capacities, nor the international stature of either India or Pakistan, to produce large-scale numbers of bombs and later announce them the way south Asia’s nuclear powers detonated their devices in 1999. Hence, Iran’s grand strategy to equip itself with the ultimate weapon was different — and, thus far successful.” according to Mr. Phares.
“After the Soviet collapse, Tehran knew Israel, or possibly the U.S. Administration, would bomb the nuclear installations, not to mention the location of a potential weapon. The Israeli raid on Osirak in Iraq in 1981, was clear evidence of Western determination to strike at a nuclear weapon in the hands of a dangerous regime. The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, and the coalition’s massive response in 1990-1991 — also told the Khommeinists that a post-Cold War West is more assertive than under the previously bipolar world. Finally, the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003, brought two powerful and hostile armies to Iran’s two borders. Tehran’s reading of the landscape change was so nervous that it declared itself as abandoning its nuclear ambitions, almost simultaneously with Moammar Gaddafi. The fear of being toppled by outside military forces pushed Iran to hide its nuclear ambitions while awaiting the outcome of regional evolution,” writes Mr. Phares.
“By 2005, as the U.S. offensive in the Middle East came to a halt, the Iranian regime displayed its hardliner face with the coming of Mahmoud Ahmedinijad to power. From then on,” Mr. Phares said, “the grand strategy of the atomic conquest with full steam ahead. On one track, Iran activated the production of nuclear material, making Bushehr and its sister sites the center of international focus. Washington responded with targeted sanctions, well-crafted — but aiming at pressuring Tehran to halt the project. The failure of the sanctions-only policies to exert a full strategic halt was caused by the inability of the West to support a strong and organized Iranian opposition inside the country with a significant presence in neighboring Iraq. Sanctions to pressure, without a real resistance movement to push the regime into the corner, were doomed to fail — and, they did.”
“But, Iran’s wider strategy,” he says, “was to create a shield for the nuclear weapons as they were produced. In fact, the Ayatollahs calculated they would only unveil the weapon — if, and when — it is protected. Hence, while the U.S. focused primarily on fissile material, the fast-track production of missiles was never stopped. The greater dome strategy includes missiles, anti-aircraft systems, geopolitical space, and terrorism. A whole missile force, which would target a wide spectrum of cities and sites, has been under construction for years. In addition, the regime has been attempting to obtain advanced anti-aircraft missile systems to protect the potential offensive missiles. And when the two structures are fully ready — it will be a greater challenge to eliminate the entire network — as it would be armed with nukes and other WMDs — while also surrounded with a vast anti-aircraft system; all the while, the uranium production is moving forward.”
“In parallel, Tehran has been expanding its reach in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, the Arabian Peninsula, and parts of East Africa with its influence and through terror networks. Once the combination of all the above systems is in place, the bomb will come, but not before. The Khomeinist Dome — is all about preparing for nukes,” writes Mr. Phares, “before they are displayed and claimed. It is about signaling the West that once the greater Iranian power is asserted, there will not be a first indefensible bomb. Rather, Iran will jump to the level of unstoppable power — with a vast network of retaliation as deterrence will have been achieved,” concludes Mr. Phares.
“Unfortunately, Western posture towards Tehran has only helped in the building of the dome: sanctions worked but were limited, all Iran’s military systems were unchecked, and its intentions in the region unstopped. Worse, a nuclear deal with the U.S. injected time and energy into the regime’s veins.”
“At this point, the regime is out to complete the buildup of its strategic shield — while offering to slow down its fissile material production. Once the dome is complete, the nuclear material production will speed up, and by the time the West realizes the maneuver, the Middle East will have changed forever.”
Mr. Phares is a very thoughtful observer of Middle Eastern strategic thought; and, his contention that Tehran is “playing the U.S.” as fool and obfuscating its real intentions — is an argument that is not lightly dismissed. As Norman Podheretz wrote in a December 12, 2013 Op-Ed for The Wall Street Journal, “Strike Iran Now To Avert Disaster Later,” “the Obama Administration tells us that the interim nuclear agreement puts Iran on a track that will lead to the abandonment of its quest for nuclear weapons.” “But, the Iranians are jubilant,” he writes, “because they know that the only abandonment going on is our own effort to keep them from getting the bomb. Furthermore, the Geneva deal’s provisions, are “too weak to prevent Iranian physicists from making further nuclear weapons progress in several key areas,” according to Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of The Foundation for Defense Democracies, where he leads the project on Iran sanctions and proliferation; and, Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University, and a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense Democracies. “The interim nuclear agreement,” they write, “has glaring loopholes — even as it addresses some areas of Iran’s nuclear-weapons capacity. “Even if verifiably implemented,” they argue that “Iranian commitments would only extend Iran’s nuclear-breakout time from about one month to two. Ultimately,” the two men argue, “when it comes to sanctions, official loosening prompts more unofficial loosening as the market reads the trend lines. Iran may find that the Geneva deal gave it more than loopholes to exploit and cash to earn.”
Former Secretaries’s of State Henry Kissinger and George Schultz, writing in the December 3, 2013 Wall Street Journal, “What A Final Iran Deal Must Do,” “said, standing by itself, the interim [nuclear agreement] leaves Iran, hopefully, only temporarily in the position of a nuclear threshold power — a country that can achieve a military nuclear capability within months of its choosing to do so. A final agreement, leaving this threshold capacity unimpaired — would institutionalize the Iranian nuclear threat, with profound consequences for global nonproliferation policy; and, the stability of the Middle East.” “Any final deal,” they write, must ensure the world’s ability to detect a move toward a nuclear breakout, lengthen the world’s time to react, and underscore its determination to do so. The preservation of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime and the avoidance of a Middle East nuclear-arms race hang in the balance.”
Former USCENTCOM, Iraq War Commander, and CIA Director Gen. David Petraeus, writing in the April 9, 2014 Washington Post, “The U.S. Needs To Plan For The Day After A [Final] Iran Deal,” says, “it is possible that a final Iran nuclear deal would pave the way for broader détente in Iran’s relations with the United States and its neighbors. It is however,” he writes, “more plausible that removing sanctions would strengthen Iran’s ability to project malign influence in its near-abroad, including Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula, and the Palestinian territories. Rather than marking the end of our long struggle with Iran, therefore, a successful nuclear deal could result in the United States and our partners in the Middle East facing a better-resourced, and in some respects, more dangerous adversary.” “Therefore,” Gen. Petraeus argues, “it is imperative we make clear to Iran — that there can be no true reconciliation between Iran and the U.S., regardless of the outcome of nuclear talks, without a comprehensive change in Iran’s destabilizing regional behavior. Such a message — delivered publicly, unambiguously and consistently — would help eliminate corrosive, and inaccurate, perception that Washington is so eager to disengage from the Middle East, that it would accept Iranian hegemony there. Second,” Gen. Petraeus writes that should intensify dialogue with our Arab and Israeli allies — to develop a common understanding about how to contend with an economically strengthened Iran, in the wake of a nuclear deal. Because sanctions relief would bolster Tehran’s capability to train, finance, and equip its terrorists proxies, we and our partners in the region must start preparing to intensify our efforts to identify, disrupt, and dismantle these networks.”
For the U.S. Intelligence Community, we must work hard to find clever and creative ways that Iran may be cheating on any such final agreement; and, the Obama Administration would be wise to have a strategy and plan in place — should Iran be caught; or, believed to be cheating. V/R, RCP