Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has accused Iran of having secretly pursued a nuclear program amid rising tensions.
Unveiling a treasure trove of files that showed Iran “brazenly lied” when Tehran said it did not have a nuclear program, Netanyahu claimed to have “conclusive” evidence of the “secret program.”
“You may well know that Iran’s leaders repeatedly denied ever pursuing nuclear weapons . . . well tonight I’m here to tell you one thing—Iran lied, big time,” Netanyahu said.
Implications for Netanyahu’s release of the cache of Iranian files:
- The treasure trove reinforces President Trump’s inclination to decide on withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran, if Tehran declines to renegotiate the accord, by May 12.
- Release helps our allies, which have advocated renegotiation.
- Israel’s cache makes Pyongyang more susceptible to our effort to use coercive diplomacy.
The Back Story
On March 13, 2018, Mike Pompeo, former director of CIA and current secretary of state, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, agreed with President Trump’s position: the nuclear deal should be renegotiated or scrapped before the May 12 deadline, which is mandated by the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.
“Bolton is a believer in the robust use of all instruments of American power,” and “perhaps the perception that Trump, Bolton and…Pompeo are willing to use these instruments will make it less likely they have to be used. (Ayatollah) Khamenei, Kim Jong Un, (Vladimir) Putin and others become more—not less—aggressive when they perceive American weakness,” Foundation for Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz told the Wall Street Journal .
On March 29, 2018, Bolton visited the Pentagon. Mattis said, “I heard you’re actually the devil incarnate, and I wanted to meet you.” They both laughed and entered the Pentagon smiling.
On April 12, 2018, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had a confirmation hearing for Mike Pompeo, who was vying to become Secretary of State.
On April 23, 2018, the committee forwarded the nomination of Pompeo to the Senate, after Republican Sen. Rand Paul finally voted in favor of him and Democrat Sen. Chris Coons agreed to say he was present for the vote. The end tally for the vote was eleven in favor, nine opposed, and one present, which enabled the committee to push Pompeo’s nomination to the floor.
Pompeo said during his April 12, 2018, confirmation hearing “I’m optimistic that the United States government can set the conditions for that [holding a summit] appropriately so that the president and the North Korean leader can have that conversation [that] will set us down the course of achieving a diplomatic outcome that America so desperately—America and the world so desperately need.”
On April 20, 2018, Washington welcomed Pyongyang’s surprise announcement that it would halt further testing of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles and forswear transferring weapons technology to other countries.
Kim Jong-un began to suspend nuclear and missile tests starting April 21, 2018, and he said he would close the site where the previous six nuclear tests were conducted. But the devil is in the details.
On April 23, 2018, Moon Jae-in sent a ten-member delegation to Pyongyang to begin preparations for an inter-Korean summit—the first in ten years and the first since Kim took over.
Former director of the CIA, Jim Woolsey, stated on June 17, 2015 (after he had left the agency), “If we cannot bring about a change of regime through the brave operations . . . [supporters of the National Council of Resistance of Iran] and their friends and allies in Iran and elsewhere, the only way to keep Iran and the mullahs themselves from having this kind of horrible power is war. I do not welcome it. I do not urge it. I do not wish it.”
It should also be noted that the major annual international rally of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) was in Paris on July 1, 2017. During the rally, Maryam Rajavi, president-elect of NCRI, said: “The ruling regime is in disarray,” which fits with the theme of our piece, on the Middle East in disarray.
Pompeo’s prior comments open the door to regime change from within: “It is a theocratic regime that is looking backwards, instead of a regime that is looking forward to make the lives of their people better . . . It is my full expectation that you will see the Iranian people continue to revolt against this . . . These protests are not behind us.”
The ouster of Tillerson for Pompeo and the appointment of Bolton suggests disarray. But the truth is that this “crisis” creates an opportunity to advance American interests in the Middle East and Asia through coercive diplomacy.
Asia’s Disarray Declines as Action Shifts to Pyongyang and Tehran
In his latest book, A World in Disarray , Richard Haass, writes: