Despite the new agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran, the Islamic Republic could still acquire nuclear weapons capability through North Korea, according to analysts. Ilan Berman, Vice President of the American Foreign Policy Council, warned that despite administration assurances that all of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear bomb have been shut off under the agreement, “[a] covert path to the bomb, entailing the procurement of materiel from foreign suppliers, still remains open to Iran, if it chooses to take that route.”
Therefore, the “unprecedented verification” that the Obama administration cites as a key pillar of the final deal could be rendered ineffective. Gordon Chang, writing in The Daily Beast, in March argued, “So while the international community inspects Iranian facilities pursuant to a framework deal, the Iranians could be busy assembling the components for a bomb elsewhere. In other words, they will be one day away from a bomb—the flight time from Pyongyang to Tehran—not one year as American and other policymakers hope.”
Berman argued that for decades Iran and North Korea have forged a “formidable alliance –the centerpiece of which is cooperation on nuclear and ballistic-missile capabilities.” He explained that for years reports have indicated that North Korea has actively worked to aid Iran’s nuclear program. North Korea sent “hundreds of nuclear experts” to work in Iran, while making “key nuclear software” available to Iranian scientists. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests. At its third in February 2013, Iranian scientists were present.
Moreover, in his testimony before Congress, Larry Niksch, Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote that several news outlets gained access to intelligence reports revealing Iranian-North Korean cooperation on nuclear technology whereby North Korean experts train and instruct Iranian scientists. He continued that in 2011, North Korean scientists reportedly trained Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps members and other officials on a certain computer program. Niksch wrote, “According to the German newspaper, Suddeutsche Zeitung,’western secret services sources’ described this program as ‘vital’ for the development of nuclear warheads.”
Rep. Alcee Hastings (D – Fla.) is the latest senior Democratic member of Congress to announce his opposition to the nuclear deal with Iran, the Palm Beach Post reported today. Hastings, a liberal Democrat who usually supports Obama, joins another Palm Beach County delegation member who’s normally a pro-Obama vote — Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton — in opposing the agreement. …
Both Hastings and Deutch say the deal allows Iran to remain a “threshold nuclear state.”
Their opposition stands in contrast to Obama’s efforts in a speech last week to cast the deal’s critics as partisan Republicans who are making “common cause” with Iranian hardliners.
Hastings, a Senior Democratic Whip in the House, made his announcement in an op-ed published in the paper [non-paywalled version here]. Hastings observed that the deal “allows Iran to remain a nuclear a nuclear threshold state,” and that the billions of dollars Iran will gain in sanctions relief will allow it to increase its funding of terror groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Houthi rebels in Yemen.
Hastings also questioned whether sanctions could really “snap back” in the event of Iran violating the deal, given the increased commerce between Iran and the rest of the world that the deal will spur.
Hastings also announced his intention to introduce legislation authorizing the “sitting president or his successors” to use military force in case Iran is about to develop nuclear weapons.
House Democrats Juan Vargas (D – Calif.), Grace Meng (D – N.Y.), Albio Sires (D – N.J.), and Kathleen Rice (D – N.Y.) were the first group to announce their opposition to the deal. Later, three high-ranking Jewish Democrats in the House—Representatives Steve Israel (D – N.Y.), Nita Lowey (D – N.Y.), and Ted Deutch (D – Fla.)—joined them in opposition. Representatives Eliot Engel (D – N.Y) and Brad Sherman (D – Calif.) also announced their opposition to the deal last Friday. Engel is the Ranking Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, of which Sherman, Sires, Meng, and Deutch are members. (via TheTower.org)