One of the few concessions that the U.S. was able to obtain from Iran during the course of the negotiations that led to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action was an agreement to end all uranium enrichment at Fordo. The underground military facility built into a mountain was of great concern to the West and Tehran’s willingness to halt its nuclear work there was considered a sign that it was serious about giving up its quest for a weapon. But if the only thing going on Fordo these days is harmless research and production of medical isotopes, why did the Islamist state deploy its most sophisticated military weaponry there yesterday?

On Monday, Iranian television showed the deployment of the country’s new Russian-made S-300 missiles at Fordo. The advanced weapon systems were the source of much contention between the U.S. and Russia during the course of the nuclear negotiations as the West pleaded with Moscow not to deliver missiles that significantly upgraded Iran’s ability to defend its nuclear sites. But the sale eventually went through. Since the Obama administration labors under the delusion that it has definitively ended the nuclear threat—rendering concerns about Iran making places like Fordo impregnable moot—it didn’t make much of a fuss about the delivery of the missiles.

The administration appears to be clinging desperately to those delusions. Though State Department spokesman John Kirby said yesterday that the U.S wasn’t happy about the delivery of the missiles or the Iranian stunt at Fordo, he also admitted that Secretary of State John Kerry didn’t spend much time complaining about the issue when he met with Russian Minister of Foreign Affairs Sergei Lavrov last Friday in Geneva. The best that Kirby could do was to say the U.S. would be in contact with its allies regarding the presence of the missiles at Fordo.

Don’t expect much out of those consultations. America’s European allies are just as committed to the notion that they have effectively ended the nuclear threat and have no appetite for protests about Fordo, let alone action. As Kirby said, the U.S. is simply going to rely on the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to ensure that the nuclear deal is being enforced.

But the questions about the S-300s at Fordo go deeper than the obvious suspicions about illicit activities or secret nuclear work in the area. Iran knows that all the talk about “snapping back” sanctions if Iran violated the deal or the possibility that force might be used if a “break out” to a weapon were detected by the U.S. is just empty posturing. The U.S. and the Europeans couldn’t wait to dismantle the sanctions on Iran, and it’s not clear what, if anything, it is that Iran could do to convince the West to re-impose them.

The brazen deployment of advanced missiles at a supposedly clean site is one more example of Iran behaving as if it knows it can violate the nuclear deal with impunity. Just as likely is an Iranian strategy of pushing the envelope in terms of compliance that will make the transition to a weapon swift and easy once all of the provisions in the weak accord expire within the next 10-15 years. We already know that Iran has been cheating on the deal as it seeks to acquire illegal nuclear technology in Europe and has also violated other agreements on the testing of ballistic missiles that have no purpose but to provide a delivery system for the bomb that they still disingenuously claim they don’t want.

President Obama’s approach to Iran was always predicated on the notion that its leaders wanted a chance to “get right with the world.” That provided the rationale for a U.S. policy of allowing Syria to descend into chaos since action there would have offended an Iran that was determined to keep its ally, Bashar Assad, in power. But while Iran was grateful for Obama’s willingness to abdicate U.S. responsibilities in the Middle East, its enthusiasm for cooperation was limited to its desire to profit from the end of sanctions and the release of frozen assets that could strengthen its economy, thereby protecting the longevity of the theocratic regime and aiding its push for regional hegemony and support for international terrorism. Since the deal was concluded, Iran has taken every possible opportunity to flaunt its defiance of the West and the presence of the missiles at Fordo is just the latest instance.

Connecting the dots between all of these pieces of evidence about Iran’s current and future plans isn’t that difficult. But doing so requires a determination to look at the facts rather than cling to the administration’s failed hopes about the deal. It remains to be seen whether the president’s successors will be prepared to think clearly about the mess he is leaving them before it is too late to do something about it.

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