Iran is illicitly proliferating nuclear weapon and ballistic missile related technology?
No shock, Sherlock.
While there have been numerous reports on Iranian proliferation actions since the 2015 nuclear deal was signed, the latest comes from a Fox News article, Monday, by Benjamin Weinthal. According to Weinthal, a German regional authority believes Iran tried 32 times in 2016 to acquire ballistic missiles or nuclear technology.
I have no doubt Weinthal's report is correct, but I'm not at all surprised by it.
First off, the standing rule of any intelligence operation is: don't get caught, or at least avoid consequences when caught. Iran is the master of the second part of that equation. After all, although Iran's terrorist and espionage activities are well-known by global intelligence services, Iran rarely faces serious consequences for what these malfeasant actions. In turn, the Islamic Republic of Iran has every incentive to continue its aggressive espionage activities, and when caught, simply deny, deny, deny!
Moreover, Iran has obvious strategic interests in developing a competent ballistic missile and nuclear weaponization capability. Iranian foreign policy, dictated by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, seeks to establish an arc of ideologically supplicant regimes in the Middle East. Yet for all its attestations of respect for national sovereignty (a frequent refrain of Iranian speeches at the United Nations), Iranian leaders are fully aware that they will continue having to use force to achieve their foreign policy objectives. And facing superior enemies such as the U.S. and Israel, the Iranian hardliners see a nuclear weapon is the ultimate insurance policy for their revolution.
Yes, Iranian officials love claiming that nuclear weapons contravene the teachings of Khomeini and Islam, and that they would never build them. Sadly, they are lying.
For both these reasons, the U.S. must work expediently to reform the Iran nuclear deal.
But we must also remain clear-eyed. Contrary to former President Barack Obama's innate belief in transformative change, Iran is not and was never going to join a peaceful rapprochement with international community. That does not mean we should pursue conflict or impractical negotiations, but we must recognize Iran's commitment to see its agenda fulfilled.