WASHINGTON – Two of the world’s top Middle East experts agree that only a military strike can now stop Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Clare Lopez, vice president of the Center for Security Policy, told WND she concurs with the detailed assessment recently published by John Bolton, the former U.S. ambassador to the U.N., which came to that stark conclusion.

And Lopez told WND she agreed that such a strike “does not necessarily mean all-out war.”

While she also agreed with Bolton that stopping President Obama’s nuclear deal will not prevent Iran from getting the bomb, Lopez still stressed the importance of having Congress reject the agreement.

She insisted it’s worth voting down the deal as an expression of the will of the American people and their recognition that it is a bad deal, and because there seems to be some indication that Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei will make his own decision, up or down, based on the vote in Congress.

Middle East analyst Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy

Middle East analyst Clare Lopez of the Center for Security Policy

“As Iranian experts have explained to me, and as (Iran expert and former Harvard professor) Daniel Pipes has also written, there is strong opposition to this deal inside the Iranian regime itself. And the embarrassment before the world should Congress indeed vote it down would be unbearable to the supreme leader.”

She said that means Khamenei “cannot get out in front. Nor is the Majlis (the Iranian parliament) likely to vote on it before Congress. This makes Congress’s vote even more important than many may realize.”

Lopez was an instructor for military intelligence and special forces students; has been a consultant, intelligence analyst and researcher within the defense sector; has published two books on Iran; and has an analytical acumen honed by 20 years as a CIA field operative.

She appeared as a speaker at a “Stop Iran Rally” recently in Cleveland and plans to attend another rally in Santa Barbara, California, on Sunday. The next big “Stop Iran Rally” will be Tuesday in New York.

Bolton had a laundry list of reasons to make his point that the only way to stop Iran’s nuclear program now is by a military strike:

  • Obama’s deal is too weak to work.
  • Existing sanctions have been too weak.
  • Even stronger sanctions could no longer derail Iran.
  • Russia, China and Europe are already rushing in to do business with Iran.
  • Russia and China are bolstering Iran to help destabilize the U.S.
  • Sanctions have slowed down neither Iran’s nuclear-weapons program nor its support for international terrorism.
  • Even if Congress rejects the deal, other countries will just make deals of their own with Iran.
  • If Congress rejects the deal, Obama will likely ignore that.
  • No Republican president in 2017 could revive the sanctions.
  • Iran is marching toward nuclear weapons, no matter what.

Agreeing with Bolton, Lopez told WND there’s “no other way to see it now.”

“The international sanctions regime is effectively busted, due to commercial greed. The U.S. cannot, and will not, hold the line alone. Even the so-called ‘snap-back’ sanctions are unrealistic at this point.”

She continued, “And the deal in no way even acknowledges, much less counters, Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program, anyway. This deal merely provides international legitimization for the overt program. The actual nuclear weapons program proceeds apace, to be sure, with a hiccup here and there, but otherwise much as it has since the 1980s when (former Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah) Khomeini told the IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps) to ‘get the bomb.'”

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton

Former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton

Bolton contended it is really up to Israel now, as it is clear Obama has no intention of using military power to stop Iran from getting the bomb.

He noted Israeli strikes on nuclear facilities in Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007 did not result in war.

“Arab reaction was almost entirely muted, because the Arabs suspected that the al-Kibar reactor was a joint venture between Damascus and Tehran,” wrote Bolton in National Review.

“The Sunni Arabs didn’t want a nuclear Iran in 2007, and they don’t want it now. Not only will the Arab monarchies quietly accept a preemptive Israeli military strike against Iran, some might even cooperate. This is how national interests actually work in international affairs.”

Lopez told WND, “I would say that a military strike, even a complex, multi-target strike, does not necessarily mean all-out war. Yes, Hezbollah and Hamas may be tasked (by Iran) with reprisals, as may be Iraqi Shiite militias. But, Hezbollah has more on its plate right now than being Iran’s cat’s-paw: ISIS is challenging Lebanon. And Iran’s Sunni neighbors are hardly just sitting there. Indeed, nuclear proliferation is one of the most concerning consequences of this whole debacle.”

National Security Adviser Susan RIce, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama

National Security Adviser Susan RIce, Secretary of State John Kerry and President Barack Obama

Bolton predicted, “Iran would most likely retaliate by unleashing Hezbollah and Hamas to rocket Israeli targets, especially terrorizing civilian areas. What is not so likely is that Iran would take any action that would generate a U.S. military response, such as closing the Strait of Hormuz, mining the Persian Gulf, or attacking the Gulf Arab states or deployed U.S. forces in the region.”

He added, “Losing their nuclear program would be bad enough for the ayatollahs. Losing their navy, air force, and who knows what else at American hands, even under Barack Obama, would be far worse, and potentially fatal to the regime itself.”

The former ambassador contended the alternatives are decidedly limited no matter how Congress votes.

“Accordingly, as of today,” he wrote, “only a preemptive military strike can block Iran from becoming a nuclear-weapons state. We can understand why politicians flee from publicly considering the military option, just as we can understand why Obama tries to shoehorn debate into a ‘my way or war’ dichotomy. But neither wishful thinking nor outright deception can change the fundamental strategic reality.”

Bolton’s bottom line: “To stop Iran from achieving its 35-year goal of deliverable nuclear weapons, either America or Israel must be prepared to use military force.”

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