Reverse course

An Iranian formerly loyal to the Islamic Republic’s ruling mullah regime provided the latest sign that the P5+1 nations are headed for a bad deal.

March 29, 2015 21:50
4 minute read.
Iran nuclear talks

US Secretary of State John Kerry (L) and Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif pose for a photograph before resuming talks over Iran's nuclear program in Lausanne March 16, 2015.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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 An Iranian formerly loyal to the Islamic Republic’s ruling mullah regime provided the latest sign that the P5+1 nations (the US, the UK, France, China and Russia, plus Germany) are headed for a bad deal.

“The US negotiating team is mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal,” said Amir Hossein Motaghi, who managed public relations for Iranian President Hassan Rouhani during his 2013 election campaign. Motaghi is now seeking political asylum in Lausanne, Switzerland.

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Motaghi’s move is reminiscent of the Cold War era, when Soviets craving freedom from their repressive regime would regularly defect to the West when given the chance. His statement might have been politically motivated – either to endear himself to skeptics opposed to the deal or to convince hard-liners in Iran that the deal is good for the Islamic Republic.

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But even experts carefully following the negotiations who spoke to The Jerusalem Post tend to agree in principle with Motaghi. Dr. Emily Landau, head of the arms control program at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said that while Motaghi’s formulation is a bit extreme, it is nevertheless true that the US is “making concessions to a degree that will leave the agreement a very, very poor one.”

What concerns Landau and others – such as Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency – is not just the number and quality of the centrifuges that Iran will be allowed to operate under the materializing agreement or the amount of enriched uranium the Iranians will be permitted to possess. Rather, what is truly worrying, as the US-led negotiators seem intent on signing a framework agreement by March 31, is that Iran continues to lie about its nuclear program, as it engages in terrorism not just in countries in the region – such as Yemen, Iraq, Lebanon, Gaza and Syria – but also in far-flung cities such as Caracas, Buenos Aires and Burgas.

Since the end of 2011, when the IAEA published findings that pointed to the military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programs, the Islamic Republic has refused to fully answer all but one of a dozen IAEA queries, including repeated requests to give IAEA access to Parchin, which is suspected of being an installation where research and development of nuclear weapons is conducted.

Yet, the US and the other P5+1 nations have allowed the Iranians to continue to lie about their nuclear program in every possible public forum and claim that it has always been solely for peaceful purposes and will continue to be in the future.

Not only has US Secretary of State John Kerry refrained from aggressively confronting the Iranian stonewalling tactics against the IAEA, he has actually made his own contribution to the Iranian narrative. “If [Iran’s nuclear program] is peaceful, let’s get it done,” Kerry said earlier this month, as though this were a possibility. “And let’s hope that in the next days that will be possible.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Washington is willing to forgo requiring Iran to answer questions from the IAEA on its past nuclear work immediately upon reaching a deal.

And the P5+1 has chosen to live in a fantasy world of its own making not just with regard to Iran’s “peaceful” nuclear program. It has also chosen to ignore Iran’s involvement in the destabilization of the region, from Damascus and Beirut to Sanaa and Baghdad, and in terrorism and drug trafficking in Central and South America.

The Obama administration is averse to confronting the Iranians, fearing that doing so would anger them and endanger negotiations. But choosing delusions over reality has led to more anarchy, with longtime US allies such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt – doubting American resolve to stop the Islamic Republic – choosing to operate on their own.

We are witnessing the beginning of a war in Yemen between Sunni states and Iran, and we may also be on the verge of a Sunni-Shi’ite nuclear arms race as well. In Riyadh, Cairo and Istanbul, Sunni political leaders – already threatened by nuclear-free Iran’s expansionism – will not stand by idly as Iran’s influence is augmented by a nuclear weapons umbrella. The P5+1 must awaken from their self-induced delusion. The French are already showing signs of life. The Yemen fiasco provides a perfect opportunity for a reassessment.

Iran cannot be allowed to continue to deceive the world about its nuclear program as it sows violence and instability throughout the region.

The March 31 deadline has not yet arrived. There is still time to reverse course.

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