Follow us on social

Why no one should take this hawkish think tank seriously

Why no one should take this hawkish think tank seriously

A recent graph FDD’s CEO shared on X regarding the Iran nuclear deal encapsulates why he and his org should be ignored

Analysis | QiOSK

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies CEO Mark Dubowitz shared a graphic on the X platform this week purporting to place blame on President Biden for Iran’s increasing stockpile of high enriched uranium — material that can be used in nuclear weapons — when in reality it’s Dubowitz, his organization and their allies in the Trump administration that are largely responsible.

“Facts are stubborn things,” Dubowitz said before showing the graphic. “Iran’s nuclear expansion has occurred under the Biden administration’s failed Iran policy of maximum concessions.”

It’s unclear what “maximum concessions” Dubowitz is referring to, but facts are indeed stubborn things and the reality is that this graphic is nowhere near close to providing the full picture of how we got to where we are today with Iran’s nuclear program. In fact, Iran’s nuclear expansion actually began before Biden took office after President Trump withdrew from the Iran deal (or JCPOA, as the nuclear agreement is known) in 2018. While Iran’s program has grown since Biden took office in the absence of any re-agreed upon limits, it would still largely be frozen where it was in 2015 had Trump remained in the deal.

So let’s look at the stubborn facts: Under the terms of the 2015 deal, Iran limited its uranium enrichment purification to 3.6% — or the amount needed for civilian energy purposes — and capped its stockpile of low enriched uranium to no more than 300 kg. In July 2019, or approximately one year after Trump withdrew from the JCPOA, Iran began to increase its stockpile of low enriched uranium above that 300 kg limit and announced that it was enriching to 4.5%, or slightly closer to the 90% needed for nuclear weapons. Dubowitz’s graph does not provide this information.

In other words, “Iran’s nuclear expansion” as Dubowitz put it, began during the Trump administration’s “maximum pressure” campaign that Dubowitz and FDD played a major role in crafting. FDD also played an outsized role in pushing Trump to withdraw from the JCPOA.

So Dubowitz ignores this fact entirely and instead misleadingly focuses on Iran’s enrichment of uranium to 20% and 60% purity, or near weapons-grade. But here again, what Dubowitz’s graph doesn’t show is that Iran began enriching uranium to 20% before Biden came into office, a move the U.S. intelligence community has attributed to the assassination of a top Iranian nuclear scientist in November, 2020. After that, the U.S. Intelligence Community’s Annual Threat Assessment states, Iran “accelerated the expansion of its nuclear program [and] stated that it is no longer constrained by any JCPOA limits.”

Another stubborn fact that Dubowitz omits is that by November 2020, Iran had increased its stockpile of low enriched uranium by 12 times the limit allowed by the JCPOA and shortened its break out time — or the time that Iran would need to produce the materials for one nuclear weapon — from one year under the JCPOA terms to between three to four months.

There are a myriad other ways in which Iran expanded its nuclear program after Trump withdrew and before Biden took office, including using more advanced centrifuges to enrich uranium and other measures which you can read about here.

The bottom line is that this is another one of Dubowitz’s brazen attempts to absolve himself and his organization from the responsibility for the failures of withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal and the subsequent “maximum pressure” campaign that failed to bring Tehran to its knees and eliminate its nuclear program (and perhaps even foment regime change).

Despite this, and the many other wildly false or misleading claims Dubowitz makes regarding Iran (and Israel), many major U.S. media outlets continue to use him as a source on these issues. Perhaps that’s why, in part, we shouldn’t be surprised that Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon than it’s ever been and U.S.-Iran tensions remain high with no sense of de-escalation in sight.

Screengrab via youtube.com/@PBSNewsHour

Analysis | QiOSK
Japan debuts as a weapons exporter

Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida sits in a F/A-18 Hornet fighter jet as he boards the USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, at Sagami Bay, off Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, Japan November 6, 2022. REUTERS/Tim Kelly

Japan debuts as a weapons exporter

Asia-Pacific

Japan has gone through a gradual process of dismantling its self-imposed ban on exporting lethal weapons, a process that reached a new plateau with last month’s decision to permit the export to third countries of the next-generation fighter aircraft to be developed jointly with the United Kingdom and Italy.

When this policy change is read in conjunction with the U.S.-Japan Joint Leaders’ Statement issued on April 10, 2024, it is likely that Japan has agreed to jointly develop and produce missiles with the United States and export them to third countries. (It also marks the latest development in its departure from its pacifist defense policy that dates back to the immediate post-World War II era.) This article tries to explain the background and implications of Japan’s policy changes.

keep readingShow less
South Korean president faces setback in elections

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol casts his early vote for 22nd parliamentary election, in Busan, South Korea, April 5, 2024. Yonhap via REUTERS

South Korean president faces setback in elections

QiOSK

Today, South Korea held its quadrennial parliamentary election, which ended in the opposition liberal party’s landslide victory. The liberal camp, combining the main opposition liberal party and its two sister parties, won enough seats (180 or more) to unilaterally fast-track bills and end filibusters. The ruling conservative party’s defeat comes as no surprise since many South Koreans entered the election highly dissatisfied with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration and determined to keep the government in check.

What does this mean for South Korea’s foreign policy for the remaining three years of the Yoon administration? Traditionally, parliamentary elections have tended to have little effect on the incumbent government’s foreign policy. However, today’s election may create legitimate domestic constraints on the Yoon administration’s foreign policy primarily by shrinking Yoon’s political capital and legitimacy to implement his foreign policy agenda.

keep readingShow less
Hezbollah leader ups ante after attack on Iranian consulate

Lebanon's Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah gives a televised address to mark one week since a suspected Israeli strike on Iran's consulate in Damascus that killed several Iranian Quds Force figures, including a top commander, in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon April 8, 2024. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Hezbollah leader ups ante after attack on Iranian consulate

Middle East

During a speech in Beirut on Friday, Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said that Iran will surely retaliate for last week’s attack, presumably by Israel, on its consulate in Damascus that led to the death of seven members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, including senior Al-Quds commander Mohammad Reza Zahedi.

In a televised address marking “Quds Day,” Nasrallah described the attack as a “turning point,” warning that any scenario was possible in its aftermath.

keep readingShow less

Israel-Gaza Crisis

Latest