Zarif and Kerry at Iran nuclear talks in Geneva 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS/Carolyn Kaster/Pool)
Another round of talks in Vienna between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France and Germany) is taking place this week. On Tuesday and Wednesday, negotiations to reach a final deal by July 20 will pick up where the “expert level” meetings that ended Saturday night left off.
As tiresome as it has become to restate the obvious, no good can come of these or any other discussions with representatives of the Islamic Republic.
But this isn’t stopping the West from engaging in the ongoing charade, whose only purpose is to be persuaded by Tehran that its nuclear program is peaceful in nature.
Never mind that all evidence points to the opposite conclusion.
Keeping the momentum going has turned “dialogue” into the goal.
This makes sense, from the point of view of countries whose leaders bow down to the god of diplomacy. With veiled threats of “all options are on the table” in the air, acknowledging that Iran’s centrifuges are spinning in order to subjugate the world’s “infidels” would mean having to do something about it.
Indeed, this is how sanctions came into being. The idea behind them was to crush the Iranian economy, and make it impossible for the Islamic Republic to achieve its hegemonic ambitions through the acquisition of an A-bomb.
But President Barack Obama entered the White House with a different concept of how to combat Iranian hostility – through American appeasement and courtship. It didn’t take a rocket scientist (Iranian or other) to grasp that such a policy would guarantee an increase in anti-Americanism and result in incentive to produce weapons of mass destruction. Radical Shi’ites are funny that way.
They are also deceitful. And their practice of “taqiyya” – lying as a legitimate and necessary means of self-defense – is as solid as it is strategic.
Not that they have to be particularly clever about their duplicity. All they have to do is repeat false claims while expressing outrage at having their rights violated, and Obama goes weak at the knees.
The latest example of this dynamic is worth spotlighting.
On March 22, during an interview with Voice of America in honor of the Persian New Year, US Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about the importance of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s fatwa (religious Islamic decree) banning the possession, development and use of nuclear weapons. Instead of questioning the existence of such a decree, Kerry replied, “A fatwa is a very highly regarded message of religious importance.
And when any fatwa is issued, I think people take it seriously, and so do we... but the trick here... is to translate the fatwa into a legally binding, globally recognized, international understanding... I hope that’s achievable... a good starting place... President Obama and I both are extremely welcoming and grateful for the fact that the supreme leader has issued [such] a fatwa.”
Though the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) has published several reports showing that no such anti-nuclear fatwa ever existed, Obama and members of his administration continue to refer to it as though it were real.
This could have serious consequences.
As MEMRI’s April 1 dispatch reveals, “Iranian Atomic Energy Organization director and former foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi... said at a February 19, 2014, Iranian National Conference on Nuclear Law in Tehran marking ‘Khamenei’s issuing of his historic fatwa banning nuclear weapons’: ‘This historic fatwa can be treated as a legitimate document, with validity equal to the validity of the text of international treaties.’” One need not shudder at the prospect of Washington actually accepting this nonsense just yet. But there’s plenty to worry about right now.
Last week, Iran named Hamid Aboutalebi as its ambassador to the United Nations. Aboutalebi was a member of the Muslim Students Following the Imam’s Line, the group that planned and carried out the siege of the US embassy in Tehran in 1979 and held its staff hostage for 444 days. The State Department called the news “troubling.”
The Senate passed legislation on Monday to enable the administration more leeway to prevent terrorists from becoming UN ambassadors.
This does not necessarily mean that Aboutalebi’s visa will be denied; maybe Obama will accept the bogus claim that he was merely a translator for the hostage-takers.
Meanwhile, the Treasury Department has just granted licenses to Boeing and General Electric to export commercial aircraft parts to Iran. This is the first such deal since the hostage crisis.
Iran has done nothing to earn gestures like these but sign a document in November whose contents it “interprets” differently than does Obama. The only progress that can be made in Vienna now or henceforth in this futile process is that which ensures an Islamic bomb.
The writer is the author of To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’