Flight 752 and the Iran Deal: Lessons and Implications
Can a regime that shoots down passenger airlines be trusted to keep a nuclear deal?
It’s been rough sailing for the Iranian government this week. First, it observed the decapitation of its Quds Force leadership, the result of a precision United States MQ-9 Reaper UAV strike on Qassim Soleimani and his entourage. Then, during the course of Soleimani’s funeral, at least 56 attendees, most likely Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or Basij militia members and their families were trampled to death. More than 200 were injured during the stampede.
Iran’s attempt at retaliation for the liquidation of its top terror chief was laughable having produced not a single U.S. casualty (a few hangars were damaged). Worse yet, twenty-five percent of the launched missiles suffered malfunctions, making a mockery of the Islamic Republic’s vaunted ballistic missile arsenal. Then, a poorly trained and jittery IRGC air defense crew shot down Ukrainian airline Flight 752 over Parand killing all 176 passengers and crew members. Most of those killed were either Iranian or Iranian with dual Canadian citizenship.
The Iranians then tried to cover up their crime by lying about it claiming that the crash was the result of engine failure. Then they began to sanitize the crash site, which was also a crime scene, by bulldozing it clean. But no one bought the hoax and three days later, the mullahs were compelled to acknowledge what everyone else in the civilized world already knew.
The sheer level of the Iranian government’s mendacity at the highest levels produced instant outrage among ordinary Iranians. They have taken to the streets in Tehran and throughout the country to voice their outrage against the government, which feeds them a steady diet of lies on a daily basis. Contrary establishment media’s false narrative, the vast majority of Iranians despise Soleimani, evidenced by protestors burning or tearing down public images of him.
During the course of a vigil for those who perished on Flight 752, Iranian authorities committed yet another egregious political blunder by arresting the UK’s ambassador to Iran, Rob Macaire, who was in attendance. Topping off the week for the mullahs was news that Kimia Alizadeh, Iran's only female Olympic medalist, defected to a Western country (possibly the Netherlands). She cited her government’s ongoing oppression as the reason for her defection.
Iran is run by an abnormal, lawless regime that spreads death and destruction wherever it goes. This past month, the mullahs massacred 1,500 of their own citizens and kidnapped many more who assembled in peaceful protest against the regime.
The many transgressions committed by the Islamic Republic raises the question of whether the regime could have been trusted to keep their obligations under the disastrous Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, signed in 2015. The answer to that is clearly no, as evidenced by the regime’s panic-stricken mendacity and attempted cover-up following the downing of Flight 752.
The Iranians thought that they could get away with an amateurish lie to the world. This follows a pattern for the regime, which lies and lies until it is caught.
There were many troubling provisions within the JCPOA that produced angst among critics of the deal but two stand out as glaringly idiotic. The JCPOA allowed Iran to collect its own samples at its Parchin military base and other locations and hand them over to the International Atomic Energy Agency. That’s like having Lance Armstrong hand over a urine sample to testing authorities without any reliable method of supervision to ensure that the sample handed is indeed Armstrong’s. Western intelligence officials have long believed that the Parchin military base is where Iran conducts its most secretive nuclear bomb-making experiments. Yet this facility was absurdly off limits to inspectors. Instead, IAEA inspectors would have to place their faith in Iran to validate or dismiss suspicion of deal-breaking activities.
Second, despite Barack Obama’s claim that the deal mandated intrusive, anytime, anywhere inspections, the opposite was in fact the case. Under the JCPOA, Iran was permitted to have 24 days of advance notice before suspected nuclear sites could be inspected, giving them ample time to sanitize the targeted site slated for additional scrutiny. This obscene provision provided the Iranians with ample time to sanitize the location before actual inspection.
Implicit in Obama’s Iran deal was the overly naïve belief that the Iranians could be trusted. Clearly, as evidenced by Iran’s attempted cover-up of the downing of Flight 752, they cannot. In 2018, a team of Israeli Mossad agents snuck into a nondescript building in Tehran and managed to make off with a treasure trove of Iranian documents linked to their nuclear program. The documents evidenced the extent of Iranian lying and deceit. Shortly thereafter, President Donald Trump withdrew from the JCPOA. The monumental attempted Iranian cover-up in connection with Ukraine Flight 752 makes his decision seem prescient.