Clare Lopez: Iran Will Not Stop Until They Have Many Nuclear Weapons!
Barry Nussbaum: Hello and welcome to ATP Report. I'm Barry Nussbaum. Before I bring on our terrific friend of ATP and our esteemed scholarly guest, I want to remind all of you out there in ATP land. If you haven't yet subscribed to our text message alert system, please take out your cell phone now. Text the message TRUTH in the message line and address it to the number 88202.
You'll be automatically subscribed to our free text message alert system, and you'll get all of the content that we produce in the palm of your hand. Absolutely free. Okay, did you do it?
Let's meet our guest. Clare Lopez, the founder of Lopez Liberty, LLC and is an esteemed scholar on Middle East terrorism. She comments on domestic and foreign relations of the United States all around the world, formerly with the CIA and a good friend of ours. Welcome back, Clare.
Clare Lopez: Thank you, Barry. Very glad to be back with you.
Barry Nussbaum: Let's talk about Iran today. It's all over the news. The Iran nuclear deal appears to no longer be the top priority it was just a few weeks ago in the Biden administration's State Department Foreign policy.
In fact, there is skepticism now leaking out of Washington that perhaps a new amended JCPOA will not include the United States. What happened to change at least the tone of the administration in regard to the JCPOA?
Clare Lopez: Well, it's not just the Biden administration, but it is also a result of what's going on in the Iranian side. People might know that Iran held sham elections once again in June, a month and a half ago or so. The former Chief of the Judiciary in Iran named Ebrahim Raisi was selected, not elected.
The Iranian people boycotted the election. He was selected by the Supreme Leader to be the next president. Well, he will be sworn in formally on Thursday, the 5th of this month, August 2021. And he is a known hard, hardliner. His most notorious claim to fame, if I can put it that way, I guess, is that he was part of the death commission back in 1988 when the Iranian regime executed tens of thousands of prisoners in the jails who were mainly members of the primary Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Nikolsk.
So, this hard hardliner coming into office, first of all, caused a delay, kind of a hiatus in the talks that have been going on over in Vienna on the nuclear deal. And that hiatus has been for quite a few weeks in the middle of the summer, so you might expect a break, but the Iranian regime itself has been giving signals now that they're not all that eager to come back after the break either.
And with this hardliner, Raisi coming into office, not at all inclined to compromise in any way, but only to make demands that every single one of all sanctions ever instituted against the regime be dropped before they would even talk. So, it's really something on both sides. And I think the Biden administration is rather reflecting the signals coming out of Tehran right now.
Barry Nussbaum: Well, let's talk about the biggest signal, if we can call it that, coming out of Tehran. An Israeli-owned tanker was attacked on the high seas a week ago with missiles that the Iranian press says were Iranian missiles. So, there's no secret that the press in Iran is one hundred percent controlled by the mullahs. They don't have an independent press.
The press is like Pravda in the old Soviet Union. If you put the wrong story out, you're gone. So, everybody knows you better toe the party line. And they literally killed a couple of crew members on this ship. And the world is outraged in response to that because this is- in the old days, that was a declaration of war.
And then this morning, the news is out that there may be a number of large cargo ships near Iran that are being hijacked, as you and I are on the air. Iran is accused of hijacking those ships, or at least their proxies are. One of the ships from what the news- the first news reports say is being directed under foreign control towards Iran.
So, the question is. If you're trying to be conciliatory, do you act like you're declaring war on the rest of the free world's trade? What are they thinking, Clare?
Clare Lopez: Well, they're not trying to be conciliatory. First, and I think what they're thinking is they have the Biden regime, the Biden administration, at their beck and call. Desperate to rejoin this nuclear deal, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action from back in July 2015. Which President Donald Trump withdrew the US from in May of 2018. But they think they have the upper hand. They think they've got the strong hand.
And with Raisi coming into office this very week, they are showing more and more aggression and belligerence. And I'll mention that the attack on that cargo ship near the Gulf of Oman that is also quite near to the Strait of Hormuz about a week ago. Yes, killed two crew members, but it was conducted with drones, not missiles, but drones. And this is a really worrisome development. I guess because it seems to be the direction of Iranian aggression that is taking place, even of either manned strikes of some kind or missile strikes.
We'll recall, of course, that drones have been used before against the Saudi Arabian oil facilities, for example, as well as shipping in these waters before. What happened on Tuesday the let's see, that would be the 3rd of August as we're talking here now. The attacks actually involved armed gunmen forcibly boarding at least one, maybe more of these cargo ships, their oil tanker cargo ships in the area off of Oman. It was resolved.
The gunmen left the ship or were forced off, not quite sure which. And the ships returned to their course. But what it does seem to show is that once again, it's open season on international shipping in these waters near Iran. And the last thing that that I'll say about that is that I read in one of the outlets, I think it might have been the Jerusalem Times, but not positive of that, that the powers that the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia, the headline of the article was that they had given the green light to Israel to retaliate against Iran. Everyone agrees this is at Iranian instigation, the green light to Iran to respond as the Israelis find appropriate.
Barry Nussbaum: And I think it's going to happen, Clare. And what you may not know is supposed, as we're speaking, there's another hijacking that has just taken place. So, it's really, really gotten brazen. This is like the piracy in the 1700 and 1800s. And those were considered to be acts of war as these are piracy on the high seas, and there will be a military response.
So, let's jump back to Ebrahim Raisi. I call him the terror of Tehran. He's the new Iranian president, as you said, who was elected Iranian style. Which is, this is the guy that's going to win, and anyone who runs against him will either be killed or removed from the ballot.
So, it's sort of like an election in Russia or South America or any of the places like maybe the Palestinian Authority, where if you run against the incumbent, it's not good for your health. So, has Raisi signaled or any of the people around him what his stance will be on the JCPOA? Because the talks are supposed to resume shortly in Vienna?
Clare Lopez: Right. Well, the first thing to realize is that Raisi, as the new Iranian President, is really the mouthpiece for the Supreme Leader. The Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has that title for a reason. And he himself, Khamenei, has signaled that he's not all that keen to get Iran back into the talks.
I think they have seen that even the Biden administration and Secretary of State Blinken are holding fast to not taking off all sanctions before talks resume or as a precondition for talks and seeing that they're not all that interested they the Iranians, in getting the talks back on track again and in particular because, in the interim of all of this hiatus in the talks, the Iranians have been moving full steam ahead with their nuclear weapons program.
Barry Nussbaum: Let me stop you on that point because that actually leads to my next question. So, Iran's nuclear program has been going full speed ahead like a freight train. They are so far out of compliance with the JCPOA it doesn't even exist for them anymore.
They're enhancing uranium at such a level that they are literally on the brink of nuclear weaponizing their missiles, or they're already there. We really don't know since nobody is seeing most of the sites where this work is taking place. From my perspective, it seems impossible they're going to back down from it.
What do you think is Raisi's position? Because, as you said, he's the microphone for the Supreme Leader. Do you think there really is any chance at all Clare that they will give up their nuclear weapons program?
Clare Lopez: No, no, absolutely not. That program began under the first Ayatollah, the first Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, back in late 1980 before he died. It has never skipped a beat ever since 1988.
The world only found out about the program clandestine for 14 years in mid-2002, when, again, the Iranian opposition group, the Mujahedeen Khalq National Council of Resistance of Iran political umbrella group, blew the lid off of it, revealing satellite imagery of places like Natanz and Isfahan and so forth.
That program has not, as I said, skipped a beat since then. After the Israeli Mossad heist of those documents pertaining to what's called the IMOD program, the secret Iranian nuclear weapons program out of a Tehran warehouse. That heist took place in 2016, announced a year or more later.
Those documents show that the program to develop nuclear weapons, a nuclear bomb, has always been ongoing and remains in force to this day. And then if you look, one of the sources I like to consult is David Albright's group called ISIS. That's the good ISIS, by the way. The Institute for Science and International Security, that group does very well reporting on the progress in Iran's nuclear weapons program.
And I recommend that website if you want to see updates on where they're at. But there, as you say, Barry, they're enriching up to 60 percent, which actually is enough to make a nuclear device, although above 90 is optimum.
Barry Nussbaum: Yeah, I've read it is actually 80 percent in some locations, but nobody really knows.
Clare Lopez: Nobody really knows because the main part of the Iranian nuclear program has remained clandestine, off-limits sites for the IAEA, International Atomic Energy Agency to investigate. They're not allowed to go see places they would like to inspect. They're openly amassing more stockpiles of enriched uranium than the JCPOA ever permitted.
Their milling uranium metal, which would make the hemispheres for a nuclear bomb, a pit of a nuclear bomb. Installing advanced centrifuges, they are installing and setting up a new centrifuge hall underground at the Natanz enrichment site that no one has been allowed to go in and inspect. But we know that it's underway.
So, all of these things indicate that under Raisi, the new president, it'll be the same as under the old president, Hassan Rouhani, and everyone that preceded him. And that is full steam ahead to a breakout capacity. At the ISIS good site of the most recent report there that I've just read is the estimate is even if you take only what's known openly, never mind clandestinely, the Iranians could be a little more than two months away from a breakout capability of building bombs.
And that's plural. I, myself, and others have thought for a long time that they've already been building warheads in the clandestine sites. But again, it’s a clandestine program.
Barry Nussbaum: Clare, tell people where they can find out about you and see your work.
Clare Lopez: Well, certainly right here at the American Truth Project. Where these videos are always posted and please also if you would like text, join the text messaging system for ATP, where if you text my name L-O-P-E-Z, Lopez to the number 88202, you will get all of the updates, text message updates of my videos and other work here.
In addition, you can go to the Citizen's Commission on National Security, the United West. Also, at the Glazov Gang, a project of the David Horowitz Freedom Center, and online I am at Clare M Lopez on Twitter and on Facebook and at Lopez Liberty LLC on Telegram.
Barry Nussbaum: The ubiquitous Clare Lopez. She's everywhere. Thanks for coming on today. And as a reminder, as Clare said, sign up for our text message alert system. It's free. It's simple. It takes about three seconds, and you'll see all of Clare Lopez and all of our staff absolutely for free in the palm of your hand on your cell phone. For ATP Report. Thanks for joining us today. I'm Barry Nussbaum.