News & Politics

White House Considers Sanctions 'Snapback' as Iran Edges Closer to Bomb-Grade Nuclear Material

Mideast Iran Nuclear Deal

Remember when Barack Obama was selling the nuclear deal to Congress and the American people and he claimed that if Iran ever violated the agreement, the sanctions that he was lifting on Tehran would “snap back” into place?

We all knew it was a load of crap then. The nuclear deal had an incredibly complex and lengthy set of procedures before Iran would be declared in violation of the accord. The entire “snapback” issue was a PR gambit to sell the treaty, nothing more.

But the U.S. may be looking at more severe sanctions on Iran after a scathing report from the International Atomic Energy Agency on Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities.

Washington Free Beacon:

Iran has been blocking inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from accessing key sites that the watchdog group has cited for having traces of undisclosed nuclear materials, fueling speculation that Tehran is again engaged in the secret construction of nuclear weapons-grade material.

Recently installed IAEA chief Rafael Grossi took the unprecedented step this week of going public about Iran’s intransigence, telling Reuters on Tuesday the Islamic Republic is not living up to multiple commitments under the landmark nuclear accord.

The White House believes that even though the U.S. is no longer a party to the agreement, we can still petition the UN Security Council for a sanctions “snapback.”

The administration’s long-awaited decision on snapback has emerged as a flashpoint ahead of the lifting of a U.N. embargo on Iran’s missile program in October. If the U.N. ban is lifted on Iran’s missile program, which includes medium and long-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying a nuclear payload, Iran will be free to purchase a range of offensive weapons that will further embolden its power grab across the Middle East, U.S. officials warn.

Already, Russia has signaled that it will stand in the way of Trump administration efforts to maintain the arms embargo, setting the stage for a showdown at the U.N. over the embargo and sanctions snapback.

What has given some urgency to White House efforts at a sanctions snapback is the shocking discovery by the IAEA that Iran has tripled its stockpile of highly enriched uranium — the last enrichment step before making bomb-grade material.

AP:

Iran has nearly tripled its stockpile of enriched uranium since November in violation of its deal with world powers, U.N. atomic watchdog agency said Tuesday, while raising new questions about possible nuclear-related activities and undeclared nuclear material at three locations.

The International Atomic Energy Agency made the statement in a confidential report distributed to member countries that was seen by The Associated Press. The agency said as of Feb. 19, Iran’s total stockpile of low-enriched uranium amounted to 1,020.9 kilograms (1.1 tons), compared to 372.3 kilograms on Nov. 3, 2019, noted in its November report.

In addition to accelerated enrichment, there is a question of what’s going on at some nuclear facilities that Iran doesn’t want IAEA inspectors to see.

In a second report issued Tuesday, the IAEA said it had identified three locations in Iran where the country possibly stored undeclared nuclear material or undertook nuclear-related activities without declaring it to international observers. It said it had sent questions to Iran in three separate letters, but Tehran maintained it wasn’t obliged to respond.

The IAEA asked for access to two of the sites, but was denied. The activities at all three sites are thought to have been from the early 2000s.

Iran wouldn’t be stupid enough to actually construct a bomb. What they appear to be doing is getting everything ready to build several weapons and deploy them. With the new, state of the art centrifuges they are installing, the radically increased stockpile of highly enriched uranium they are holding, and the missiles they are building and testing, it all points to Iran becoming a nuclear power in a matter of weeks once they make the fateful decision.

Even if the administration were to succeed in getting the UN to snapback international sanctions, it would be months before they began to hurt. Iran is setting things up so that by the time sanctions could do any good, it will be too late to stop them.