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ZUMWALT: Iran’s Nukes: ‘Fool Me Once, Shame on You. Fool Me Twice, Shame on Me. Fool Me Thrice…’

Anti-abortion activist Randall Terry famously said, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” But in discussing Iran’s nuclear weapons program, we need to ask what it says about subsequent American governments that they have been continually fooled by Tehran’s mullahs in their efforts to develop nuclear weapons.

Last week, we learned that the Iranians are fooling us again.

As an irresponsible media fails to educate Americans on a threat that not only will become a reality in our lifetime, but menace our children during theirs, the place to start for the most naïve among us is by asking: Should it really matter whether Tehran becomes the tenth member of the nuclear arms club?

Logically, one might assume – excluding World War II, when a single nation so armed used them – the threat of one nuclear-armed nation now attacking another makes such conflict unlikely. The concept of Mutual Assured Destruction during the Cold War proved effective.

But one should heed Tehran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s comment about such weapons and a possible retaliatory strike against Iran should it use nukes first: “We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.”

This mindset survived Khomeini’s 1989 death. In fact, a subsequent Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, confident his country would possess and use nuclear weapons during his tenure (2005-2013), predicted the return of the messianic “Twelfth Imam” or “Mahdi.” As part of their orthodoxy, Shiites believe (Sunnis do not for it is not mentioned in the Quran) the Mahdi disappeared in the ninth century at age five, entering into a suspended state. But he is to return sometime in the future to lead Islam to global domination—a return the orthodoxy says must be triggered by world chaos.

Ahmadinejad was so certain of the Mahdi’s return he earlier ordered, as Tehran’s mayor, widening city streets for celebratory parades. In 2011, he even produced a documentary film titled “The Coming Is Near” to reveal Iran’s spearheading Mahdi’s return. This “end of world” message was further conveyed by Ahmadinejad at the UN in 2012.

Another indicator Iran’s leadership believes the end is near was Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s July 2010 assertion that Mahdi descended to Earth to meet with him, ordaining him his personal representative. Therefore, all Muslims (conveniently for him) are to obey Khamenei.

Ahmadinejad’s plans to develop nuclear weapons were dealt a significant setback by U.S./Israeli-manufactured malware known as “Stuxnet” that infected Iran’s computers.

Ahmadinejad must believe Iran’s program is now back on track, as he declared his candidacy for the presidency in May’s upcoming election. He undoubtedly recognized the best way to create the mandated world chaos was with a nuclear weapon, but was quickly disqualified as a candidate. While disqualification most likely stems from an earlier Ahmadinejad-Khameini power feud that almost got the former arrested, it must be remembered US or Israeli retaliation is, as Khomeini boasted, of no concern as long as Islam’s global dominance prevails, even if it kills millions of innocent Iranians.

Undoubtedly, this Iranian mindset generated Israel’s recent rush order for three new German Dolphin AIT-class submarines capable of carrying nuclear-armed cruise missiles. While no other country with so short a sea border has so many submarines to protect it, Israel recognizes it may be unable to stop a devastating Iranian first strike, but knows its submarines can and will retaliate.

Americans seem able to recognize ISIS as a brutal, fanatical Islamic group seeking to establish, initially, a regional caliphate it controls and, ultimately, a global one. But our leaders seem unable to recognize Iran is basically ISIS in a nation-state’s clothing, seeking the same result. While ISIS looks to do it under a Sunni banner, Iran looks to do it under a Shiite one. Our lack of recognition of this and Iran’s nation-state status allow it greater maneuverability than ISIS to achieve this aim.

Throughout the years, the more believing among American politicians have taken comfort in Iran’s religious edict—a fatwa—issued in 2003 by Khamenei claiming it un-Islamic to have nuclear weapons. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton cited the fatwa to claim Tehran has no intention of developing nuclear. Interestingly, while fatwas are typically published in writing, this one never was.

Iran’s stealthy efforts to pursue a nuclear program suggest the fatwa is “taqiyya,” the Allah-sanctioned act allowing Muslims to deceive non-Muslims. It is a practice justified by Muslims initially to enter into an agreement with which it has no intention to comply.

Armed with knowledge about the Iranian leadership’s mindset, Americans should be doing everything in their power to ensure Tehran never acquires nukes. Despite presidential candidate Barack Obama’s 2008 assurances it would not happen, he negotiated a nuclear deal with Tehran permitting Iranians, legally in ten years or sooner if illegally done, to pursue such a capability.

A revelation last week by an anti-mullah Iranian group (NCRI) credited with first revealing, almost two decades ago, Tehran’s secret nuclear program, and which is recognized for being right 90 percent of the time, reports Tehran chose the illegal path.

Iran’s nuclear program has been a constant shell game, hiding its work and facilities from the West. Ironically, a video exists of its current president, Hassan Rouhani, gleefully boasting how he had deceived the West about the program when he served earlier as the country’s chief nuclear negotiator. He acknowledges therein the program’s focus is not peaceful, but military.

In keeping with Iran’s deceptive policy, NCRI announced, even after reaching an agreement with Obama in 2015, the mullahs are engaged in weaponization, the final stage to developing nukes, at a newly-identified site at its Parchin military base. Tehran believes the chance international inspectors will gain access there is “extremely low.”

(Arguably, the deal is legally unenforceable: Iran never signed it and both countries versions differ!)

NCRI’s announcement came the same week Secretary of State Rex Tillerson represented Iran was abiding by the nuclear deal.

It is no wonder the mullahs believe Allah is on their side. How else to explain we are so easily fooled.

Lt. Colonel James G. Zumwalt, USMC (Ret.), is a retired Marine infantry officer who served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf war. He is the author of “Bare Feet, Iron Will–Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran–The Clock is Ticking.” He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.

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