Ambassador John Bolton: Regime Change in Iran the Only Answer

“The Obama administration’s move to strike a nuclear deal with Iran enraged many Republicans as well as some more hawkish democrats.”

Earlier this month, John Bolton headed to Paris, along with several other American military and political big-wigs, to rally tens of thousands of members from the Mujahadin e Khalq and its supporters outside of Paris.  Bolton, as well as several other Western luminaries, called for regime change in Tehran, and also noted that the Trump administration won’t be taking as friendly of a tone with the ruling Iranian clerics.

Newt Gingrich, who also spoke at the Free Iran rally, echoed calls for regime change, stating that “Iran must be free. The dictatorship must be destroyed. Containment is appeasement, and appeasement is surrender. The only practical goal is to support a movement to free Iran. “

The Obama administration’s move to strike a nuclear deal with Iran enraged many Republicans as well as some more hawkish democrats. Critics of the deal  argue that it will do little to slow Tehran’s alleged nuclear ambitions. So far, the Trump administration has upheld the nuclear deal and shied away from any direct confrontations with Tehran.

However, critics within and outside of the administration are calling for the United States to back away from the deal. Trump himself argued on the 2016 Presidential campaign trail that the Iran deal was the “worst deal” ever. In a best case scenario, the accords put a pause on Iran’s nuclear ambitions for ten years. However, Iran will quickly be able to jump start research once the accords expire. Many critics, including the MeK, argue that research is on-going in clandestine locations outside of the monitored nuclear facilities.

At the Free Iran rally, Bolton also raised an interesting point many are overlooking: the day North Korea miniaturizes its nuclear weapons, Tehran will be able acquire the technology. This may well be true, cash starved North Korea would likely be quite open to selling nuclear technology to America’s enemies.

Iran continues to claim that its nuclear research is only for peaceful means. This claim itself has always struck me as odd, why would a country with such massive oil and natural gas supplies need nuclear energy? And with the advance of wind, solar, and other renewable energies, even if Iran does want to diversify its energy stocks, why nuclear? The answer, according to the MeK, Bolton, and other critics is obvious: weapons are an integral part of Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

This is further backed up by Iran’s continued development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. ICBM’s are extremely expensive and difficult to build, and can only deliver small payloads. If that payload is a nuclear warhead, the destructive potential is immense. On the other hand, any ICBM mounted with conventional warheads would be largely ineffective with a limited destructive potential that wouldn’t justify the costs of the ICBM itself.

Yet, even after signing the nuclear accords, Iran has continued to develop ICBM’s. Despite the fact that ICBMs are clearly designed for nuclear weapons, and only pose a significant military threat when mounted with nuclear warheads, the Obama administration did not force limits on ICBMs during the nuclear accord negotiations. Even if Iran is, in fact, effectively deterred from nuclear warhead research, they can still continue to work on ICBMs, potentially solving one half of the nuclear weapon equation.

Is regime change the answer in Iran? Certainly, it’s fair to question Iran’s long-term ambitions both in the Middle East and across the world. Even if the United States does try to pressure Tehran, it’s unclear how much leverage America really has. Russia and China have maintained generally friendly relations with the regime, and many European nations have likewise been warming up to Tehran. With the Republican Party in control of both Congress and the White House, however, expect calls for regime change to fall upon friendlier ears.

Brian Brinker

Brian Brinker is an OpsLens Contributor and political consultant. Brinker has an M.A in Global Affairs from American University.

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