At 2 pm ET today, President Trump is scheduled to announce whether the US will stay in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action–commonly known as the “Iran Deal,” which the Obama Administration, UN Security Council members and Germans negotiated to, theoretically (and hopefully), slow down the Islamic Republic’s quest for nuclear power and, few doubt, nuclear weapons.
Having studied the nexus between Iranian politics and its Twelver Shi`ism for years–and having spent some time in that country–I believe that no amount of signed paperwork will deter Iran’s ayatollate from pursuing nuclear weapons. Having them would not only give Iran even greater regional clout; it would provide “regime insurance,” such as the North Koreans obtained by developing such bombs. And make no mistake: preservation of their vilayet-i faqih, along with attendant wealth, status and power, is what Khameini, Rouhani and the other regime supporters fervently desire. They have absolutely no intention of using nukes against Israel in order “hotwire the apocalypse” and spark the coming of the Mahdi. Anyone who thinks otherwise should read my still-relevant, 16-pp. 2011 paper on this topic. Do Iranian leaders lie? Of course. It was the Twelvers, after all, who invented taqiyyah. But short of invading the country, we really have no way of stopping Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons–and that would be even stupider than invading Iraq turned out to be.
Yours truly at Jamkaran Mosque, Qom, 2008. No nukes or Mahdis were found in the course of that trip–although by now the former are probably extant.