July 19, 2024

’Twas the night before Armageddon


Iran is working steadily towards having its own nuclear arsenal. AP

It remains far too quiet at the White House this Christmas. Iran alarmingly is on the cusp of building a nuclear bomb and the Biden administration appears oblivious that we are now on the eve of Armageddon in the Middle East. 

Yuletide gifts for Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the form of more economic-sanction relief won’t stop the ayatollah from achieving his military goal of turning Iran into a nuclear power as a counterweight to Israel’s nuclear arsenal.

Creatures are stirring in Iran, and dangerously so in the full light of day. 

Tehran is only days from a nuclear breakout, not weeks or months. Iran already possesses sufficient mass of 60% highly enriched uranium to assemble nuclear bombs, and readily has the centrifuge capacity needed to reach 90% enrichment — the level required to sustain a nuclear chain reaction.

Supreme leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, seems impervious to sanctions. AP

In November, the latest quarterly report from the International Atomic Energy Agency warned, “Iran’s stocks of enriched uranium and its centrifuge capacity combined are sufficient to make enough weapon-grade uranium . . . for six nuclear weapons in one month, eight in two months, ten in three months, eleven in four months, and twelve in five months.”

Equally disconcerting, the IAEA noted “that not only was there little Iranian cooperation over the last two and a half months, but also that Iran shows no real willingness to cooperate in the future.”

Now is not the time to be jolly. Nor is it a time for folly — specifically, UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ call for a return to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in exchange for  sanctions relief for Iran.

Iran has enough weapons-grade Uranium for multiple nuclear weapons. AP

Contrary to UN Political Affairs head Rosemary DiCarlo’s briefing before the Security Council last week, JCPOA no longer “represents the best option.”

Iran is too far gone and in the pocket of Russian President Vladimir Putin to ever be a reliable negotiating partner.

Tehran’s military supplies support for Russia’s illegal war of aggression in Ukraine, alongside the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ help in planning Hamas’ Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel, is proof positive that Khamenei is not playing to lose or even to tie.

Tehran is out to win.

Iran and Russia are known to be friendly with one another. AP

Therein lies the rub. “Winning” is the most challenging word in the dictionary to commit to for President Biden and his national security team: Defense Secretary Llyod Austin, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan.

Instinctively they think in defensive terms, and as a result often appear to be caught off guard by the nation’s foes and their determination to bring the fight kinetically to us and our allies.

Khamenei has Biden pegged. Tehran is confident that this White House will not take any meaningful kinetic action that would force Iran to change its calculus let alone trajectory in pursuit of becoming a nuclear power.

Biden’s mentality of “defending” everywhere and failing to go for the win anywhere — Ukraine, Taiwan, the Sahel and Yemen, and also Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon — is only encouraging Iran to proceed full speed ahead with its nuclear weapons program.

Striking empty buildings of Iranian-sponsored militias in Syria and Iraq who repeatedly attack US forces and installations has not been an effective deterrent.

Doing so sends Khamenei the exact opposite message that he and his military advisors need to be hearing — which is that Washington means business, even if it has to come at the pointy end of a spear.

Nor does militarily sitting back and allowing the Houthis to attack commercial shipping and US naval assets in the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden and Bab el-Mandeb Strait send the right message.

Protecting commercial shipping with a coalition naval task force is a step in the right direction. In the meantime, the Pentagon should consider striking launch points for ballistic missiles and drones in Yemen every time the Houthis attack.

“’Twas the night before Armageddon” may not be catchy, but it rightly describes the nightmare we find ourselves in the Mideast as Khamenei nears the goal line of taking Iran nuclear.

US inaction will become paralysis if Iran gets the bomb.

Iran’s nuclear breakout could be as soon as New Year’s Day. It is way past time for the Biden administration to find a new resolution to confront and put an end to Tehran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.

Mark Toth writes on national security and foreign policy. Col. (Ret.) Jonathan Sweet served 30 years as a military intelligence officer.

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