Iranian officials are not known for their verbal self-restraint, but this was
blunt even by their standards. Fereydoun Abbasi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy
Agency, admitted this week that his country regularly lied and deceived the
world community regarding its nuclear program.
“Sometimes we show
weaknesses we don’t have,” Abbasi said in an interview with the London-based
pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat. “Sometimes we show strengths we don’t
It is no surprise to anyone that Tehran has been using lies and
deception to cover up its march toward a nuclear bomb. What is surprising is
Abbasi’s willingness to be quite so candid. No one else as high-ranking among
the Shi’ite fanatics running the show in the Islamic Republic has come out and
admitted so unambiguously to be intentionally misleading inspectors from the
International Atomic Energy Agency.
Adding to the chutzpah was the
timing: Abbasi let loose his revelation while heading a delegation to the IAEA’s
56th General Conference taking place in Vienna. It was as if Abbasi waited for
an opportunity to maximize the embarrassment he could cause the IAEA officials
for being duped.
This week, Iranian leaders seem to have a proclivity for
On Sunday, Maj.-Gen. Muhammad Ali Jafari, commander of
the Revolutionary Guards, declared that Iranian forces were propping up Syrian
President Basher Assad’s murderous regime. Members of the Qods Force, the
Revolutionary Guards’ international branch, are helping Assad fight the rebels.
“We are proud to defend Syria, which constitutes a resistance to the Zionist
entity,” Jafari told reporters in Tehran.
On the same day a semi-official
Iranian religious institution – the Khordat Foundation – declared it was
increasing the reward to $3.3 million from $2.8m. for anyone who would act on a
fatwa first issued in 1989 by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and murder British
author Salman Rushdie.
The spate of candid declarations made by Iranian
officials seems to be tied to the frenzied protests sweeping across the Middle
East, North Africa and Europe. Tehran apparently is emboldened by the most
recent outbreak of fanaticism. With millions of Muslims giving free rein to
their fanaticism, why should the Islamic Republic be reticent?
reason for Iranian leaders’ recent outspokenness, it has become increasingly
clear that Iran continues to snub the international community. Successive
US presidents have vowed to stop Tehran’s nuclear program. And there has been
unprecedented international cooperation in imposing powerful sanctions;
bolstering the military capacity of those among Iran’s neighbors who would be
adversely affected by an Islamic Republic with the bomb; dispatching US forces
to the Persian Gulf region; and even offering a face-saving diplomatic
But Iran persists.
Its leaders might believe that a
nuclear weapons capability will intimidate Iran’s enemies enough to force them
to end the sanctions. If this is the case, the more the economic situation
inside Iran deteriorates, the greater the pressure will be to push ahead with
the atomic program.
Therefore, the West, led by the US, should explain to
Iran’s leaders clearly and unambiguously the severe consequences of their
actions. While US President Barack Obama might be adverse to making public
statements about red lines, such red lines should be made clear in clandestine
contacts with men such as Qasem Suleimani, commander of the Qods Force, or
Iranian leaders have not shied away from extraordinary honesty of
late. The same sort of bluntness and candidness should be employed by the West.
By expressing its unshakable commitment to stopping the Iranian nuclear program,
the West, led by the US, stands the best chance of achieving a peaceful
resolution to the Iran nuclear crisis. That should be everyone’s goal.