Region Technology Battlefield Foreign Relations From Our Contributors

Middle East , Foreign Relations

U.S. Calls for Inspections of Iranian Military Facilities - Iran Inevitably Refuses

January 18th - 2018

Image Credit : European-Iraqi Freedom Association

With the Trump administration continuing indicate it seeks to either end or amend the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) deal with Iran, the U.S. has mounted further military and economic pressure on the country from deployments of F-22 Raptors across the Persian Gulf in the UAE to expanding economic sanctions targeting key sectors of the Iranian economy. While Iran was specific that it would allow inspections of its nuclear sites but not of untested military facilities related to its conventional forces under the JCPOA, the United States has nevertheless called for inspections of Iranian military sites. No similar calls were made by the International Atomic Agency or by other signatories to the JCPOA, and Iran inevitably refused any access to its military facilities by foreign inspectors.

Iran's Foreign Ministry announced that the country would not renegotiate the JCPOA despite the U.S. pressure. While the deal prevented the country from developing nuclear arms, it hardly led to a curbing of its conventional defence programs such as ballistic missiles as the Western bloc had hoped for. With Iran's missile arsenal remaining key to asymmetrically balancing the militaries of Western allies in the region, the defence budgets of which dwarf that of Tehran, the Western bloc has sought to add extra stipulations to the JCPOA to curb Iran's missile program. While the Western bloc may well have predicted a favourable balance of power in the region should Iran be unable to acquire weapons of mass destruction, potentially giving it an asymmetric advantage, Tehran's investment in other asymmetric capabilities, primarily missiles with an extensive program co-developed with North Korea, have been more than sufficient to grant it this parity. It was therefore to be expected that upon realising this, the Western bloc would attempt to backtrack on the terms of JCPOA.

Iran's unwillingness to allow inspections of its military facilities comes based on valuable lessons learned form other states which have acquiesced to the West's demands to do so. Iraq under Saddam Hussein notably allowed for extensive Western inspections of its military facilities in the lead up to the 2003 Iraq War, which proved an invaluable asset for U.S. and British forces giving them valuable intelligence on the strengths and weaknesses of the Iraqi military. Another case was that of Libya, which in 2003 sought a rapprochement with the Western bloc and allowed for extensive and highly intrusive Western inspections of its military facilities. The result was that when the Western bloc launched a military intervention to remove the Libyan government there was little ambiguity as to what capabilities the country had, where weapons were stored and other details which simplified their intervention. With Iran's tensions with the Western bloc and particularly the United States constantly simmering, and with the West maintaining extensive intelligence cooperation with Iranian adversaries such as Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Israel, allowing for such inspections would be an extremely foolhardy move unilaterally compromising the country's defence capabilities on the whim of its adversaries. Tehran's adamant refusal of Western efforts to intervene in its conventional military development have therefore been well justified based on precedents of the ill fated states which accepted such demands and on the continuing threats to Iran's national security.


See Also