North Korea’s ICBMs and Iran’s Nuclear Program

Aug 11, 2017

North Korea's ICBMs and Iran's Nuclear Program

Update from AIJAC

Update 08/17 #03

In the wake of the North Korean ICBM tests in the final days of July  – and the escalating international crisis over North Korea’s provocations, with US President Trump again warning of “fire and fury” yesterday, while reports say North Korea has created miniature nuclear warheads that can fit on missiles – this Update features articles linking the current Korean crisis to the ongoing problem of stopping Iran from acquiring similar nuclear capabilities. It also includes an important piece on the policy difficulties of confronting Iran’s regional expansionist efforts.

We lead with top Israeli proliferation specialist Dr Emily Landau, who argues the ICBM tests were not a surprise, but still leave policymakers with no good options. She says there are no diplomatic strategies that have not already been tried with Pyongyang, and hopes China will rein in North Korea look highly unlikely. She argues the key link between the North Korean case and Iran is that both rogue actors share strong motivations to go nuclear –  involving regime survival and prestige –  and there is no reason to think that the nuclear deal with Iran will cause a change in that motivation, just as nuclear deals did not change North Korea’s ultimate determination. For her complete argument, CLICK HERE.

Next up is US Congressman and senior member of the House Committee on Foreign Relations Ted Poe. He argues that not only are there strong parallels between North Korea and Iran as sponsors of terror and aggressive actors with missiles, but there is strong evidence of direct supply of missile technology from Korea to Iran which could extend to ICBMs. He argues the solution is immediate strong action against Pyongyang – including sanctions on banks that do business with North Korea – as the key to discouraging Iran from following the North Korean route. For the rest of what he has to say, CLICK HERE

Finally, we feature a valuable analysis of the problems involved in “pushing back” Iran’s regional expansionism, from top US Iran expert Reuel Marc Gerecht. Gerecht argues that even though most policymakers agree on the goal of “pushing back” Iran’s expansionist efforts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, there is actually little consensus on what that actually entails – nor adequate acceptance of the reality that any such push-back will inevitably risk the nuclear agreement with Iran. He also argues that Iran and Russia already effectively control Syria and Iraq, so the only way to “push back” against their domination of the region is for Washington to commit significant US troops on the ground to these areas – something the Trump Administration seems unlikely to do. For all the detailed argument Gerecht makes to back up these claims, CLICK HERE. A different view about how Iran can be handled by the US comes from former senior American officials Eric Edelman and Charles Wald.

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North Korean ICBM Tests: No Surprises, No Good Answers

Emily B. Landau

INSS Insight No. 962, August 7, 2017

People watch as coverage of an ICBM missile test is displayed on a screen in a public square in Pyongyang on July 29, 2017 (Credit: Kim Won-Jin / AFP).

While North Korea’s recent nuclear tests significantly raised the level of fear in the United States, they were not a surprise. North Korea, long a nuclear state, is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that has shirked international commitments. Pyongyang issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea’s activities for Iran’s nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny. The indirect implications for dealing with Iran’s nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran.

Twice over the past month (July 4 and July 28, 2017), North Korea tested the Hwasong-14 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). The tests were a dramatic demonstration of the latest stage in North Korea’s nuclear program, namely, the ability to fire an ICBM that can reach the United States mainland. Yet while these tests significantly raised the level of fear in the US, they were not a surprise. And although some view the latest missile test as a wake-up call regarding North Korean capabilities, North Korea has long been a nuclear state, and those following the situation knew that it was steadily progressing toward its goal of being able to target the US with a nuclear-tipped ICBM. While initially viewed as successful, the latest test may have met problems – according to some reports, the warhead “shattered into pieces” on its re-entry from atmosphere to earth, and it could take North Korea some six months to overcome the problem. If these reports are correct, North Korea might not yet be able to reach California with a nuclear ICBM, but this is only a matter of time.

In response to the July 28 test, the US flew two B-1B bombers over South Korea, alongside South Korean and Japanese fighters. But beyond this show of strength, the US has not demonstrated a direction for dealing with the threat from Pyongyang. Statements issued by Secretary of State Tillerson have run the gamut from calls for global action – while accusing Russia and China of having enabled the missile launch  to offers of negotiations if North Korea agrees to dismantle its nuclear capability. Tillerson also clarified that the US does not seek regime change. Despite some threats of preemptive action against North Korea, the Trump administration is likely not preparing to attack; more likely, it is trying to bolster its deterrence against a North Korean attack. Trump is also trying to deter North Korea from progressing further with its program, and while the administration has not stopped North Korea in the missile realm, it may have had some limited success in deterring North Korea from carrying out another nuclear test, for which North Korea seemed to be preparing several months ago. But deterrence successes are hard to prove and the decision to refrain from a sixth nuclear test could have been for other reasons.

While there are no ready answers to the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, it would be a mistake to view the recent missile tests as a reaction to the Trump administration’s tougher approach. North Korea has been moving forward in the nuclear realm for decades. In fact, major advances were made during the Obama administration, when for eight years the US followed a policy of “strategic patience.” During these years North Korea conducted four nuclear tests, two of which occurred in close proximity in 2016 (January and September), signaling a stepped-up pace of nuclear development. North Korea was also deeply engaged in ballistic missile testing during those years.

As for diplomacy, there are virtually no current ideas among analysts and pundits, or the US administration, that have not already been attempted and proven unsuccessful. On the basis of 25 years of diplomatic attempts, there is little to no chance of negotiating a deal whereby North Korea will roll back its program or denuclearize. Neither carrots nor sticks have had a lasting impact, and if North Korea did not agree to rollback its nuclear capability in the earlier stages, there is little reason to believe it would agree now, when it finally reached its goal, and after paying a very hefty price in sanctions and isolation. In recent days the UN Security Council slapped additional harsh sanctions on North Korea, but based on patterns that have played out over the past 15 years, this is unlikely to alter the situation.

China often features prominently in debates over how to confront North Korea, with many referring to it as the “magic key”: if only China were convinced to cut off North Korea’s economic lifeline, this proliferator would be squeezed to the degree that it had no choice but to give up its nuclear capabilities. Yet while China is indeed North Korea’s economic lifeline, China has no intention of cutting off that lifeline, as this could lead to an implosion of North Korea — in turn leading to a massive influx of refugees into China, and possibly American troops stationed on China’s border. President Trump has tweeted his displeasure with China, and has tried to convince it to do more to rein in North Korea. China’s answer is that the criticism is unwarranted, and that it is trying to help international efforts to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Some pundits have suggested that the US must offer China more for taking the extreme step of cutting off North Korea, such as backing away from the THAAD missile defense system deployed in South Korea. China strongly opposes THAAD, which it believes undermines its own nuclear deterrence, since the system’s radar covers part of China. But a US reversal would be viewed negatively by South Korea, in light of the increasingly dangerous direct threat from North Korea. Recently, the new leader of South Korea, who initially had second thoughts about the missile defense system, signaled that he now supports it.

Indeed, for the US to back away from THAAD would now be perceived as backing away from America’s long term commitment to South Korea’s security. The main concern in both South Korea and Japan following the ICBM tests is that the US commitment to their security has been weakened now that North Korea can threaten the US mainland. If the price for protecting these states from attack could be a nuclear strike on Los Angeles, the fear is that the US might be deterred from taking action against North Korea. In a telephone conversation with Japan’s Prime Minister Abe, Trump reaffirmed America’s unwavering commitment to its security, but it remains to be seen whether this will be enough for Japan. Abe is also demanding that Russia and China increase pressure on North Korea.

A question often raised of late with regard to North Korea is why the Kim Jong-Un regime is so bent on having nuclear weapons. We can try to appraise North Korea’s motivation for going nuclear – most likely a mix of regime survival and prestige factors – but understanding this state’s motivation should not be confused with legitimizing its pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korea is a dangerous nuclear proliferator that shirked its commitment according to the NPT (which it exited in 2003) and broke deals with international negotiators. North Korea issues highly aggressive rhetoric toward the United States and its regional neighbors on a regular basis; it flaunts its nuclear capability and threatens to use it, and tends to share nonconventional know-how and technologies. And herein lies a link to Tehran: as Iran also remains motivated in the nuclear realm despite the JCPOA, the direct implications of North Korea’s activities for Iran’s nuclear program must be under constant scrutiny.

The indirect implications for dealing with Iran’s nuclear motivation invoke the ability to rely on negotiations to stop a determined proliferator. The North Korean case of failed negotiations must be heeded when thinking about Iran. There are many differences between these two proliferators, but they share determination and ongoing motivation to achieve nuclear status. Strong international actors cannot afford to be complacent about a negotiated deal – the JCPOA – when it does not reflect a strategic reversal on the part of the proliferator. If this deal has achieved a delay, the challenge is to use this time to reverse negative trends and prepare better for the future, but not to rest on laurels while celebrating a deal that has not stopped Iran in the nuclear realm, and could render that goal even more elusive in eight to nine years.

Emily Landau is a senior research fellow at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies (INSS) at Tel Aviv University and head of the Arms Control and Regional Security Program there.


Article 2

North Korea’s ICBM Test is a Win for Iran

Pyongyang may transfer their deadly missile technology to Tehran.

Ted Poe
The National Interest, July 31, 2017


Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) Hwasong-14 is pictured during its second test-fire in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 29, 2017. KCNA via Reuters.

North Korea’s recent test of an intercontinental ballistic missile is a game changer. Only last month, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told Congress that the despotic nation was the “most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security.” Kim Jong-un’s new missile launch confirms Secretary Mattis’s assessment. Perhaps even more concerning is the potential for North Korea to compound the threat by transferring this dangerous technology to another rogue regime, namely its longtime ally Iran.

Tehran checks every box for being a global menace, just like its friends in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). Both are state sponsors of terror, have clear nuclear ambitions, and directly threaten U.S. interests and those of our allies with ballistic missiles. Iran looks to North Korea to support and enable its nuclear ambitions. For years, experts have suspected North Korea as being the key supporter behind Iran’s missile and nuclear programs. Today, many of the missiles Iran would use to target American forces in the Middle East are copies of North Korean designs.

North Korean engineers are in Iran helping to improve its missiles to carry nuclear warheads, according to a report released last month from Iran’s main opposition movement—the same movement that exposed Tehran’s secret nuclear facilities at Natanz and Arak in 2002. According to the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s new report, the Islamic Republic is using North Korean blueprints to build underground missile sites and experts are regularly traveling between the two countries to assist the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps’ efforts to develop nuclear warheads and guidance systems. This would enable the jihadist state to launch nuclear weapons at the large U.S. bases in the Middle East that restrain Iran’s expansionist ambitions.

Fortunately, Iran is still behind the DPRK in acquiring a nuclear device. But like the ill-fated 1994 agreement with North Korea to halt its nuclear program, the nuclear deal President Barack Obama signed with Iran in 2015 is destined to fail. Once it does, Iran will be able to quickly mount nukes on its massive arsenal of ballistic missiles thanks to North Korean assistance that has occurred since the deal was signed. This time, Iran’s missiles will be better protected because North Korea has helped it build as many as thirteen secret underground launch facilities modeled after their own.

Pyongyang’s ICBM tests in July make these revelations far more worrying. The missile tested last week exceeded most analysts’ expectations, demonstrating an ability that could put American cities as far as Chicago within Kim’s nuclear crosshairs. This is astonishing given many experts said as recently as May that North Korea would not have a working ICBM until 2020. Unfortunately for the world, they were wrong. With North Korea outpacing our own expert expectations, Iran will likely not be far behind.

According to the Pentagon, North Korea already gave Iran an intermediate-range missile known as the Musudan in 2005, which Iran tested earlier this year. The DPRK used the same missile to develop their new ICBM. Tehran will likely follow the same path to an ICBM—except with their North Korean friends providing tips to accelerate their program. When Iran reaches this threshold, the IRGC will be able to extend its threats beyond the Middle East and deep into Western Europe to endanger our NATO allies. At that point we will have evil regimes pointing nuclear capable missiles at us from both the east and west. The prospects look dire, but we can still prevent this.

During the Cold War, the world came to the brink of nuclear war when the Soviets placed nuclear missiles on our doorstep in Cuba. The United States stood up to Moscow’s challenge, and the Soviets backed down. Now with Little Kim building missiles that can target American cities and with Iran following his footsteps, we must again find our courage and stare down these thugs. How do we do that?

We can start by re-designating North Korea as a State Sponsor of Terror. I introduced H.R. 479 earlier this year to require the State Department to review and report to Congress whether Pyongyang should be put back on the list. The bill passed the House 394 to 1 in April. I urge my colleagues in the Senate to move this bill to the president’s desk quickly in light of recent events. Pyongyang shows no sign of slowing its missile program, and with their known assistance to the terrorist sponsors in Iran, the ICBM threat to America may soon grow another head.

Next, we must demonstrate to Iran that acquiring ICBMs is a costly and foolish endeavor by imposing even tougher sanctions on North Korea in response to their ICBM test. This should include sanctions targeting the myriad Chinese, Iranian, and other banks and companies that act as a lifeline for the Kim regime. If these entities stopped funneling money to North Korea, up to 40 percent of the regime’s revenues would be eliminated. The world must decide: either choose the American financial system or North Korea. There is simply no middle ground.

Little Kim must be held accountable for his saber rattling. If he is allowed to threaten American cities with impunity, then there will be little to stop Iran from doing the same in the near future. The United States and our allies must sever their alliance and restore a world order where the despots fear our reach, not the other way around. And that’s just the way it is.

Congressman Ted Poe is a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and serves as chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade.


Article 3

“Pushing Back” Iran


by Reuel Marc Gerecht
Strategika, Wednesday, July 26, 2017

On both the left and the right, there is a consensus in Washington that the United States needs to “push back” against the Islamic Republic’s nefarious actions in the Levant, Iraq, and Yemen. The clerical regime largely controls the ground war in Syria: Tehran’s foreign Shiite militias, imported from Lebanon, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and Iranian-directed native forces lead the battle against the Sunni insurrection. In Iraq, the Islamic Republic has energetically encouraged sectarian conflict, aiding politicians and militias that have taken a hardline toward political compromise with Sunnis. Iraqi members of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps have become senior officials in the government.

And in Yemen, Iran has backed the Shiite Houthis in their campaign to dominate the country. What once would have seemed far-fetched—Tehran trying to develop a Lebanese Hezbollah-like movement among Yemen’s “Fiver” Zaydi Shiites, who have never been close to the “Twelver” Jafaris of Iran—is now conceivable. If such Shiite militancy becomes anchored in the south of the peninsula, Tehran will surely try to aim it northward toward the badly oppressed Shiites of Bahrain and the oil-rich Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia.

Iran’s alliance with the “Zaydi Shi’ites” of Yemen, in the form of the Houthi militia, would once have seemed far-fetched but today looks like a possible anchor for Teheran to aim attacks toward Saudi Arabia and Bahrain.

But among Republicans and Democrats, no one really wants to clarify what “push back” means. For cause: Any serious American effort against the Islamic Republic will inevitably risk the nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which the Trump administration has signaled that it will, with increasing reluctance, keep but “rigorously” enforce. Within the Democratic Party, the atomic accord has become sacrosanct.

Yet the two objectives cannot co-exist. The sine qua non of the agreement is to trade temporary restraints on Iran’s nuclear aspirations for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Any serious American effort to punish Tehran will inevitably include the use of escalating sanctions. This is so even if the United States doesn’t deploy more forces into the region, which would mean, among other things, that the only unilateral way Washington could painfully hit Tehran would be through sanctions. Neither Congress nor the White House is going to confront the Islamic Republic and concurrently fuel its expansion. American foreign policy can sustain severe contradictions, but this one would be too much: We would be paying for our own defeat. If we imagine scenarios where the United States actually puts more troops into either Syria or Iraq (unlikely with President Trump), or just keeps troops in the latter against Iran’s wishes (not at all unlikely after the defeat of the Islamic State in Mosul), then we could rapidly find ourselves in an indirect shooting war with the mullahs’ praetorians, the Revolutionary Guards, who oversee all of Iran’s foreign adventures.

It’s impossible to imagine the White House or Congress maintaining the nuclear deal, with its economic rewards, while watching Iranian proxies kill American servicemen. If in response to more poison gas attacks against Syrian civilians, Donald Trump eventually decides to threaten the rule of Bashar al-Assad, it’s not unlikely that Tehran’s proxies would kill American forces operating in Iraq and Syria. Senior Iranian officials regularly use the term “asymmetrical” when referring to their strategy for responding to the re-imposition of significant American sanctions or hostile military actions. “Asymmetrical” means the same thing to Iranians as it does to us: When Americans start dying, the JCPOA is dead.

The aftermath of the US cruise missile attack on Syria’s Shayrat airbase in April, launched in response to use by the regime of Sarin gas, may look impressive, but the way it was done suggests the Trump administration is not interested in escalation.

The restrained way that President Trump responded to Assad’s use of sarin—cruise missiles at 3.40 a.m. after the Russians had been warned—doesn’t suggest the White House really wants to escalate. Even more telling is Trump’s recent decision to end the Central Intelligence Agency’s “covert” support to the Free Syrian Army, which unlike the much more substantial U.S. aid given to the mostly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces, battles the Assad regime and not the Islamic State. But Trump may not be able to roll back the clock.

Aligning with Assad and his partners to eliminate Sunni jihadist organizations, as was the White House’s initial hope, would be more challenging now. Moscow and Tehran will continue to slaughter Syrian civilians, further radicalizing the countryside.An explicit aim of the Assad regime—obviously approved, likely advanced, by both Tehran and Moscow—is to depopulate the rebellious Sunni regions of the country, redrawing the pre-war creedal map where the Alawis’ 10 percent confronted a Sunni bloc of around 75 percent of the people. As Trump will learn, ceasefires in Syria mean nothing or are counterproductive. It’s only a matter of time before the regime makes a play to retake Deir az-Zor since its fall would fracture the Sunni opposition in eastern Syria, probably breaking the back of the rebellion. Both Moscow and Tehran would likely support this move, which would open the sought-after land route from Iran to Lebanon and clearly signal the eclipse of the Unites States in the Middle East.

For Washington an ethical slippery slope is in play: If the administration finds gas attacks to be beyond the pale, will it find vastly greater numbers of Syrian women and children slaughtered by Russian bombs, tanks, artillery, and Iranian-led ground forces to be sufficiently heinous to warrant real “push-back?”

If Assad, Iran, and Russia are going to take advantage of their decisive victory in Aleppo last December, they are going to amp up their offensives in central and eastern Syria—regardless of any ceasefires that Presidents Trump and Putin may have concluded.

Barack Obama never indulged any moralism in his Syria policy, letting Assad and his partners slaughter without reprisal. However oddly, given his earlier endorsement of Assad’s guerre à outrance against Sunni militancy, Trump opened the door to traditional American moralism when he responded to the sarin attack. However, his cancellation of C.I.A. support to the Free Syrian Army soldiers suggests that the earlier Trump may now be ascendant, that the president has no intention of changing his exclusive focus on the Islamic State regardless of what Assad and his allies do against the Syrian people.

Even if we imagine a new American foreign policy, where the administration is prepared to risk the nuclear deal to counter regionally the Islamic Republic (and also be prepared militarily to strike the nuclear facilities if the mullahs start reconnecting centrifuges), we still have to confront an ugly fact: Iran and Russia have become the dominant powers of the northern Middle East.

What Obama gave away when he withdrew America from Mesopotamia in 2011 cannot be brought back—without a significant effort. The Russians have looked at the Middle East, from Turkey south to Egypt and from the Mediterranean to Afghanistan, and done the math. Shiites and Sunnis are nearly an even split. The Islamic Republic has never posed a strategic threat to Moscow. The clerical regime has never gained a foothold in the Caucasus and Central Asia outside of Tajikistan, the only Persian-speaking country in the former Soviet Union. And even in Tajikistan, where Sunni fundamentalism is strong, anti-Iranian sentiments are intense and widespread. After the fall of the Soviet Union, the Islamic Republic’s cultural and religious outreach flopped, thwarted by the Sunni–Shiite divide (the vast majority of Central Asian Muslims are Sunni), Iranian cultural arrogance, and the superior efforts of Turkish Gülenists, Saudis, and other Sunni missionaries.

Putin has already made the calculation that his own brutal actions toward Sunni Muslims in the Caucasus and his support of anti-Islamist rulers within the former Soviet Union don’t have a prohibitive downside. The Russian ruler does not seem to fear Sunni Islamic radicalism at home. Putin’s alliance with Shiite Iran is a logical extension of his domestic self-confidence; it’s also a smart strategic move since Iranian power has no effective Arab counterweight, at least in the northern Middle East.

The Trump administration’s new default position in the region, which was where Hillary Clinton, too, was likely headed, is to view traditional Arab Sunni allies—the Sunni Gulf Arabs, Jordanians, and Egyptians—as a bulwark against Iran. Hunting for a means to avoid greater commitment in the Middle East, the White House and the Pentagon have also alighted upon the idea of the Kurds as our foot-soldiers against radical Sunni Arabs. They aren’t, of course.

The Kurds have limited range and run the serious risk, in both Syria and Iraq, of aggravating already inflamed ethnic tensions. And Sunni Arab states simply can’t project the required power. In Egypt’s case, the field marshal-turned-president-for-life, Abd al-Fattah al-Sissi, has more or less aligned himself with Assad, preferring dictatorial solidarity to Sunni fraternity. Only the Iranians have the ideological appeal, organization, and resources to send their own soldiers and thousands of foreigners into battle far from home. And the closer Moscow is to Tehran, the more the Arab states, particularly the oil-rich Gulfies, must treat Russia with all the deference that a great power commands. The White House’s hope to separate Russia and Iran really makes neither strategic nor cultural sense since Russia and Iran want to see Washington’s hard power diminished and fear the alluring soft power of American idealism.

Without a significant commitment of U.S. troops to Syria and Iraq, there is simply no way for the United States to diminish Iran’s influence on the ground. Establishing safe zones where Washington could build up Syrian Sunni forces capable of defeating radical Sunni organizations as well as the Alawite and foreign Shiite forces will require American combat forces. This would take time and considerable patience. When the American side starts winning (Syrian Sunni numbers do matter), which it inevitably will if Washington commits the necessary resources, more American soldiers will be required to supervise liberated territory. Whatever forces Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, or Saudi Arabia might commit to this “peace-keeping” effort, their contribution would surely fall far short of what is required.

If we concede the northern Middle East, which Trump appears to have already done, we can still contain Iran: as long as the U.S. Navy guards the Persian Gulf, the Islamic Republic cannot manhandle the Arab Gulf states. Shiite insurrections in both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain would prove challenging for the Saudi and Khalifa families, but the Iranians probably can’t spark and feed such rebellions without more reliable supply routes than they presently have. The weakest point for the Iranians—massive internal dissent, which last erupted in the 2009 Green Revolt that followed contested presidential elections—would be worthwhile for the administration to explore, but this isn’t a natural card for President Trump to play. He would surely be awkward in aiming the bully pulpit in support of Muslims striving for democracy.

But the Middle East is, as always, fluid. The Iranians are quite capable of misjudging the United States. The clerical regime’s capacity to provoke Washington should never be underestimated. And the American president is a work in progress. Trump obviously loathes the Islamic Republic and hates the nuclear deal and could conceivably walk away from it even though his administration doesn’t seem to know yet what to do if the White House allows Congressional sanctions, lifted by the atomic accord, to reset. We could find ourselves in the odd and contradictory situation where Trump eagerly concedes victory to Iran in Syria and Iraq and allows the clerical regime to buy Boeing aircraft but ends the JCPOA, thus obliging Washington to prepare for possible military strikes, assuming Tehran has the fortitude to counter Trump. What seems unthinkable today may become conceivable tomorrow.

Reuel Marc Gerecht is a senior fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.  He focuses on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, terrorism, and intelligence.



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