Iranian President Hassan Rouhani departs after speaking at the Nelson Mandela Peace Summit during the 73rd United Nations General Assembly in New York, September 24, 2018.
(photo credit: CARLO ALLEGRI/REUTERS)
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s September 21 opinion editorial in The Washington Post is extremely dishonest – in its depictions of Iran and of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), otherwise known as the Iran deal.
The dishonesty begins in the very title of the piece, when Rouhani – the figurehead leader of Iran who actually reports to the Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khamenei – claims that “Iran is keeping its nuclear commitments.”
This is simply not true. Iran is actually in violation of many of the commitments it made during the 2015 Iran deal. Most importantly, contrary to the clear language of the deal – see Q, 74 that permitted inspections at military sites which “will not be aimed at interfering with Iranian military or other national security activities” – Iran has banned the international inspectors from inspecting any of the military sites in Iran. These sites are exactly where any nuclear weapons development would be occurring. Rather than push back against this Iranian violation, the international inspectors have timidly avoided the issue by refusing to ask for any inspections of those sites.
Also, without these inspections of military sites, the international community has no way of knowing if Iran is keeping its other nuclear commitments.
But that is not all. Iran has also produced excessive heavy water, which it was allowed to sell on the open market for substantial monetary gain. Iran has exceeded the limits on advanced centrifuge research and development by building and operating larger numbers of such centrifuges than the deal allows. Iran is violating Section T of the deal, which explicitly bans Iran from “activities which could contribute to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
German intelligence has frequently reported that despite the JCPOA prohibitions, Iran has continued illicit attempts to buy nuclear and missile technology outside of JCPOA-approved channels. And Iran has violated the UN Resolution enshrining the agreement, by shipping weapons and even ballistic missiles all around the Middle East.
And there are other breaches as well.
IN THE FIRST paragraph of the Post op-ed, Rouhani also laughably lauds Iran as a nation that has a “tradition of respect for the rule of law and norms of international law.” This would be news to any objective observer of the Middle East. In 1979, in its very first year in existence, student ideologues from the Islamic Republic of Iran violated the sanctity of the US Embassy to seize American hostages, whom they held for 444 days. These students were supported and eventually directed by then-Iranian dictator, the Ayatollah Khomeini.
Starting that same year, almost 40 years ago, the Islamic Republic of Iran has had the distinction of being the “leading state sponsor of terrorism” throughout the world. Iran birthed Hezbollah, which prior to the attacks of September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terror organization. Hezbollah has also killed Europeans, South Americans and, of course, many Middle Easterners as well.
Iran supports additional terror groups like Hamas, the Polisario Front in Morocco, al-Qaeda and many others. It backed terror groups in Afghanistan and Iraq, which during the post-US invasions, killed or wounded hundreds if not thousands of American soldiers. Iran also has frequently attacked international vessels in the Persian Gulf, including taking hostage American and British sailors. And it has supported the war crimes of the Assad regime in Syria, which includes using chemical weapons to slaughter children.
Later in the op-ed, Rouhani claims that the US government “has officially reneged on its international commitments, most notably UN Security Council resolution 2231,” and through its “illegal exit” from the Iran deal. Both of these claims are dishonest. Regarding the latter, the Iran deal “is not a treaty or an executive agreement” or in any way “legally binding” – it is an unsigned document between the Obama administration, Iran and several other governments. The Obama administration made no attempt to make this deal constitutional – and thereby more permanent – by using the treaty process, or even by enshrining it as an executive agreement. Successive US administrations, therefore, are not required to follow the JCPOA.
THE US ALSO is not reneging on its international commitments. Part of the UN resolution is simply the JCPOA which, as we know, is not legally binding. The rest of the resolution does have some obligatory parts; however, none of these legally-required sections have been violated by the US.
When it comes to implementing the JCPOA, the relevant language from the UN resolution simply “calls upon all Members States, regional organizations and international organizations to take such actions as may be appropriate to support the implementation of the JCPOA, including by taking actions commensurate with the implementation plan set out in the JCPOA and this resolution, and by refraining from actions that undermine implementation of commitments under the JCPOA...” Note that this language does not require that any nation support the JCPOA: it just “calls upon them” to do so.
Finally, the idea that “Iran has not engaged in any external aggression during the past 250 years” and has “peace” in its arsenal is belied by the very violent and aggressive record of the Islamic Republic. Once again, see Iran’s 40 years as the leading terror state, partly documented above.
Rouhani’s Washington Post op-ed is nothing more than pure propaganda from an enemy (regime) against the United States. It certainly should not be taken seriously by anyone truly knowledgeable about the truth.
Adam Turner serves as general counsel to the Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET). He is a former counsel to the Senate Judiciary Committee where he focused on national security.