Consortium Against Terrorist Finance Jul. 20, 2016, 1:42pm

On July 14, 2015 Iran and the P5 +1 world powers (United States, United Kingdom, France Germany, Russia, and China) signed the nuclear non-proliferation agreement, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Meant to protect the world from nuclear warfare and curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions, one year later analysts say Iran has only used the deal to cheat its way to nuclear weaponry, as it perseveres in its illicit nuclear activities while strengthening its military and defense efforts with the billions of dollars of inflow from frozen assets. Most recent developments on this perspective come from German Intelligence reports that uncovered Iran’s “clandestine” efforts to seek illicit nuclear technology and equipment on German soil. Iran had been attempting to purchase these materials from German companies “at what is, even by international standards, a quantitatively high level”.

At least 9 attempts have been made by Iran to obtain technology that could potentially be used for nuclear arms development, which, however, were prevented by German intelligence in cooperation with the German companies that were sought out. The Institute for Science and Technology stated that Iran had covertly attempted to obtain carbon fiber, a dual use material needed to build a centrifuge. This good is required to be reported to the international community, although Iran failed to do so despite its transparency obligations under the 2015 JCPOA deal.

The same 317-page report also stated that German intelligence had "registered a further increase in the already considerable procurement efforts in connection with Iran's ambitious missile technology program," and that Iran is expected to continue these intensive procurement activities in Germany using covert methods.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel briefed the Parliament on July 7th, 2016 in Berlin by saying that “Iran continued unabated to develop its rocket program in conflict with the relevant provisions of the UN Security Council.” Conversely, the U.S. State Department responded on July 8th that it believes Iran has not violated its commitments under the deal, positing that the German report is a broad assessment which fails to differentiate Iranian activities before and after the deal was passed. John Kirby, the U.S. State Department’s spokesperson, added that they have no information indicating that "Iran has procured any materials in violation of the JCPOA." Rather, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran has been implementing its commitments, and the U.S. and German government shares their views. Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Qasemi, also clapped back saying that Merkel's statements were counter-productive, and would have no effect on the program. He also reiterated Tehran's assertion that the missiles are not designed to carry nuclear weapons, but that its missile program is defensive in nature and Iran will continue it with “full force.”

Furthermore, Iran continues to be considered the foremost state sponsor of terrorism, according to the U.S. State Department. Despite the agreement, Iran persists in its aggressive threatening and destabilizing behavior, with Iran’s leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, continuing to refer to the U.S. as the enemy as recently as the past Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday. United States Central Command Nominee, General Joseph L. Votel, stated that Iran has become even more aggressive now than in the days prior to the agreement. In June of 2016 the French Financial Action Task Force also expressed concern about Iran’s failure to address the risk of terrorist financing, which poses a threat to the integrity of the global financial system, labeling the country as high risk and uncooperative jurisdiction.

On July 14th, in a Congressional Testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, Mark Dubowitz, the Executive Director of the Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, refers to JCPOA as fatally flawed saying that the deal provides a patient pathway to nuclear weapons and does nothing to address the country’s current illicit activities. Such activities include support for terrorism, regional destabilization, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile development that Iran tested 7 times since July 2015 in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Thus, these $100 billion dollars that have been unfrozen with the deal cause more harm than good, with the possibility of some of the funds being used to finance terrorists and Iran’s proxy wars, as indicated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in January. Iran has publically confirmed that it arms Hezbollah with advanced long-range missiles, also in violation of the UN Security Council’s prescriptions. Other Iranian sponsored terrorist activities include the discovery of numerous Iranian funded bomb-making facilities and materials in Bahrain in late 2015, the smuggling of weapons to rebel fighters in Yemen in September 2015, the training and funding of over $1.5 million towards violent and abusive Iraqi Shiite groups, and the provision of over $6 billion per year and over 3,000 military personnel, as of May 2016, to pro-Assad efforts in Syria’s civil war. Additionally, the German Intelligence report identified over 1,000 associates of Iranian sponsored terrorist groups living in Germany. This includes about 950 Hezbollah members and 300 Hamas members, all of whom could be working on behalf of Iran and its interests.

With global businesses and banks still apprehensive about getting in to bed with the Iranian government, the positive effects have yet to trickle down to Iran’s economy. Without these benefits, it seems as though this agreement is actually making the world a more dangerous place, rather than a safer one, as it intended to do.

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