Terror state will likely ramp up Mideast mischief
One of the most troubling elements of the Iranian nuclear deal is the financial lifeline it throws to Tehran by lifting the punitive economic sanctions slapped on it because of bad behavior on atomic affairs.
While estimates vary, we’re talking about Tehran pocketing well north of $100 billion — as a start — on “implementation day,” the point at which Iran meets its initial commitments under the non-proliferation pact.
That’s a pretty good chunk of change, especially for Iran.
For comparison purposes, Tehran’s gross domestic product is about $400 billion per year, according to the CIA; its defense spending runs about $30 billion annually, according to the White House.
And that initial influx of income would only be the start.
To strong-arm Tehran to the table on its nuclear program, many countries cut off their commercial dealings with Iran. With the inking of an agreement in Vienna, those restrictions will go away.
The resumption of international trade and banking with Iran, especially energy, would put even more wind in Tehran’s economic sails — beyond the release of billions of dollars in frozen energy assets.
Meaning? Trouble — probably more and bigger trouble.
Of course, some embrace the cheerfully optimistic view — there are other words for it — that Iran will spend its ill-gotten gains on social and domestic needs to benefit its people — a pressing requirement considering the economy’s sad state.
Talk about wishful thinking. President Obama even admitted as much during his Wednesday news conference on the Iran deal.
Instead, expect that Tehran will use at least part of its newly found wealth to double down on its current form of international “behavior.”
Much of that “behavior” runs directly and aggressively counter to American interests — and that of many of our allies and friends in the region and beyond.
In fact, the State Department still pegs Iran as the most active state sponsor of terrorism. There’s no reason to believe that Tehran will alter its steadfast support for Hamas, Hezbollah and Shiite militias in Iraq.
(At least one Shiite militia is on Washington’s foreign terror organization list.)
The mullahs’ mucking around in Middle East matters won’t change, either. Will more money in government coffers cause Tehran to reduce its aid to its ally in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen or pro-Tehran Shia in Bahrain?
Not likely. Rather, Tehran will doubtlessly double down on its mischief-making and its proxies — which support Iran’s rise in the region.
Plus, some pressure for addressing concerns about the repressive human rights situation in Iran will also be let off. Why should the mullahs liberalize their repressive policies at home with the Rials rolling in?
Tehran will also spend more on its conventional military, its elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard/Qods forces and its security services and their destabilizing deeds.
Along these lines, the loosened loot will find its way to Iran’s ballistic missile program. Even under sanctions, Iran has developed the Middle East’s largest ballistic missile force.
By the way, they’re on the verge of having an ICBM that can reach the United States.
The bottom line is that more money for the mullahs won’t mean a moderation of Iranian adventurism abroad or repression at home. Rather, it will only serve to turbo-charge Tehran’s tyranny.
- Peter Brookes is a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and a former deputy assistant secretary of defense.
Originally appeared in Boston Herald