iran

Threat of Nuclear Iran Looms Due to the West's Weak Resolve

Iranian nuclear negotiators (Photo: © Reuters)

Iranian nuclear negotiators (Photo: © Reuters)

by: 
Shahriar Kia

The sixth and final round of talks between the Iranian regime and P5+1, which started on July 3, is quickly running its course toward its self-imposed July 20 deadline, at which time world powers and the Iranian regime are supposed to reach a final agreement on Iran’s illicit nuclear program and curb the nuclear capabilities of a regime that has already proven to be a regional and global threat without nuclear weapons.

The talks were initially launched with a lot of pomp and ceremony. Accordingly, a lot of optimism was pumped into mainstream media, mainly centered on the positive changes that would supposedly occur now that the Iranian regime’s new president Hassan Rouhani had assumed office, and his foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was at the helm of Iranian negotiating team.

Western states rushed to the negotiating table, offering the Iranian regime many concessions and not demanding much in return, seemingly forgetting that this same regime has so far defied six U.N. Security Council resolutions, and Rouhani has previously bragged about how he had duped the West and preserved the Iranian regime’s nuclear project during his 2003-2005 nuclear tenure.

Also being ignored is the proven fact that no matter who is up front, it is the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final say on important matters, the nuclear project included.

Now, after many months of ongoing talks, it turns out that the Iranian regime had nothing new to offer and insists on preserving its nuclear program and its potential to produce nuclear arms.

Even U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who had touted the talks and had high hopes over the prospects of reaching a solution to Iran’s nuclear deadlock, now feels a little disgruntled and dubious about the whole affair.  “What will Iran choose?” he wrote in his June 30 op-ed in the Washington Post, “Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet.”

With a few days left on the schedule, many sticking points remain between Iran and world powers, including the number of centrifuges, the much-debated Arak heavy water reactor, the possible military dimensions of the program and the regime’s ballistic missile program, which could be used to launch nuclear warheads to intended targets.

If recent remarks by Khamenei are any indication, the gap between the Iranian regime and world powers is too great and isn’t likely to be bridged within the next weeks. Acknowledging that it is at a critical milestone, the Iranian regime’s supreme leader made it clear in a session with high-profile regime officials that his regime needs 190,000 SWUs (Separate Work Units) as compared to the 10,000 that the international community is willing to concede. He also dismissed any notion of shutting down military facilities or giving up on nuclear research.

Khamenei took advantage of the weak resolve of the international community to taunt the West and affirm that any attempts at further sanctions or possible military action against his regime would fail.

The best result that the talks could yield is a bad deal, one which allows the Iranian regime to preserve its capacity to create a nuclear bomb and make a break for it at a time of its choosing. The only amount of relief U.S. President Barack Obama might draw from the situation is that the catastrophe might not come to pass on his watch.

The alternative will be an extension to the talks, which will buy the mullahs more time to continue their nuclear program at its current pace while allowing them to enjoy sanctions relief that the West has conceded according to the November 2013 Joint Plan of Action.

Either way, the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran will continue to loom on the horizon, and the international community will at best succeed in kicking the can a little further down the road.

What’s more disappointing is that the international community seems to ignore the fact that the real weapon of mass destruction in Iran is the regime itself, with its outdated religious fascist mindset and its policy of exporting Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism to the region and worldwide.

Even without nuclear bombs, the Iranian regime is already responsible for the ongoing crises in Syria and Iraq – to mention just a few – and the death of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians in the region. Furthermore, Iran has seen a spike in executions and human rights violations during the tenure of Rouhani, the self-proclaimed “moderate” president much touted by the West.

None of the above will dissipate when the final agreement over the Iranian regime’s nuclear program is penned, be it on July 20 or at a later date. Given its nature, the Iranian regime will never be a contributing force to peace and stability in the region, a fact that Obama and the other members of the P5+1 seem to miss altogether – or deliberately ignore.

The real solution to the grievances that the international community faces regarding the Iranian regime is not to engage it but to overthrow it and replace it with a democratic alternative.

This was the focus of a huge gathering held in Paris on June 27 by the Iranian diaspora, in which more than 100,000 people from 69 countries attended, representing all generations and walks of life in Iran.

The huge crowd had rallied around one cause: regime change in Iran.

Speaking at the convention, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton described the Iranian regime’s nuclear program as “the principal threat to peace and security in the region.”

“Combined with the regime’s roll in financing terrorism,” he said in his speech, “the ayatollahs have been the principal cause for the destabilization of the Middle East, resulting in conflicts that are erasing national boundaries and fostering the collapses of the regional states.”

His thoughts were seconded by many of the 600 parliamentarians and political figures who attended the conference from U.S., Canada, Europe and the Middle East, representing a wide spectrum of political tendencies.

“There is only one sure way to secure the world from the threat that this regime in Tehran represents,” said former U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman, who was among the first speakers at the event. “It is for the Iranian people to overthrow these tyrants, and for freedom loving people throughout the world to support this next great revolution.”     

Comparing Iran with other countries in the region that have either undergone or are undergoing regime change in recent years, former mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani argued, “[R]egime change in Iran is easy.” Alluding to the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its leader, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, he added, “There is an alternative in Iran, an alternative that stands for democracy, stands for freedom, stands for human rights, stands for the rights of women, is led by a woman, and most importantly at this time in our history, it stands for a non-nuclear Iran.”

The NCRI, the main opposition of the Iranian regime, was the first party to blow the whistle on Iran’s secret nuclear program in 2002, and has since provided the international community with valuable information about Iran’s nuclear sites and activities.

Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the NCRI, was the keynote speaker of the event. She made it clear in her speech that the Iranian regime could not be trusted, saying, “[The mullahs] want to take advantage of the West appeasement policy as much as possible to buy time and leave open the path to acquiring nuclear weapons.”

She stipulated that, in addition to the dismantlement of all its nuclear facilities, the Iranian regime must be forced to accept additional protocol and full inspections of its sites, plus unrestricted interviews with all those involved. She also emphasized that the Iranian regime must be held accountable for its record of blatant human rights violation and its role in the genocide of the Iraqi and Syrian people.

Rajavi underscored that the Iranian people want regime change, and change in Iran will be possible “through the Iranian people and their resistance.”

While reiterating her commitment to replacing the regime in Iran with a non-nuclear republic based on separation of church and state, gender equality and the abolishment of capital punishment, she emphasized, “The time has come for the international community to stand with the Iranian people.”

Making the wrong choices – especially in the Middle East – has become the hallmark of the Obama administration’s foreign policy in the past five years. The effects are clearly visible in Syria and Iraq today.

Despite his botched attempts, Obama continues to try to rein in the Iranian regime through appeasement and concessions, an endeavor that is doomed to fail again. Now at a critical juncture, he can either continue to side with the criminal, illegitimate dictatorship ruling in Tehran, or, for once, make the right choice and stand with the Iranian people and their resistance for regime change in Iran, an undertaking that will definitely help promote peace and stability in the region and across the world. 

 

Shahriar Kia is a press spokesman for an Iranian opposition  group housed at Camp Liberty in Iraq. Kia says the group, the People’s Mujahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI, also known as MEK), advocates for a democratic, secular Iran with separation of church and state and gender quality that is nuclear-free. He graduated from North Texas University and currently resides in Iraq. His Twitter handle is @shahriarkia 

You can read Kia’s previous interview with the Clarion Project here

Wed, July 9, 2014 "Obama Will Take Military Action if Iran Tries to Go Nuclear"

Illustrative photo of a nuclear reactor. Photo © Reuters.

Illustrative photo of a nuclear reactor. Photo © Reuters.

July 8, 2014 – Clarion Project hosted an exclusive briefing for diplomats and journalists from all over the world with Dr. Gary Samore, President Obama's former adviser for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction and the president of United Against Nuclear Iran.

In light up the upcoming July 20 end of the interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1, Dr. Samore spoke about Iran’s current objectives as well as the differences between the negotiating parties.

The main point of contention is Iran’s nuclear breakout capacity. “Iran wants to have the ability to create nuclear weapons on short notice, while the six world powers are not prepared to accept Iran as a nuclear threshold state,” Dr. Samore explained.  

Dr. Samore mapped out the current time it would take for Iran to “breakout” and build nuclear weapons. “Right now, on paper, Iran’s breakout time is two to three months. The six world powers are demanding Iran significantly reduce this capability … to make breakout time over one year and to keep that in place for more than a decade.”

However, on this core issue – enrichment capabilities -- neither side is willing to make concessions, says Dr. Samore. Further, he explains, “Both sides are very constrained by domestic politics. President Obama can’t sell a nuclear deal to Congress if it allows Iran to retain a credible nuclear weapons option, and President Rouhani cannot sell a nuclear deal to Supreme Leader Khamenei if it requires Iran to give up its nuclear weapons option.”

“But, even if a deal is impossible,” Dr. Samore continued, “I think all parties appear relatively comfortable with the status quo that has been created by the interim agreement. The U.S. and its allies have essentially succeeded in freezing the most important part of its nuclear program with only modest sanctions relief.”

Further, Dr. Samore says that inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency have been highly effective in deterring Iran from breaking their agreements at known nuclear facilities. In terms of covert facilities, ferreting them out is and always has been the job of U.S. and other intelligence agencies.

Due to the current volatile world situation, Dr. Samore expects that the interim agreement will be renewed without changes for another six months. This is due in part, to the political situation in Ukraine, Iraq and the deadlock between the negotiating parties for which a renewal would allow all parties to attain their goals.

Even though at this point it looks as if Russian President Vladimir Putin has decided to support a negotiated settlement with Ukraine, Dr. Samore says that, “From Iran’s standpoint, the confrontation over Ukraine presents a golden opportunity  -- or at least a possibility -- that there will be an open fracture between the Western countries  and Russia.”

Therefore, in Dr. Samore’s assessment, Teheran “will not make any significant concessions until they know for sure that Russia will not make an open break with the P5+1.”

The Iranians also believe they will be able to leverage American concessions in exchange for greater cooperation from Iran in defeating ISIS in Iraq. However, the view in Washington is that since ISIS is on Iran’s back door, “The U.S. doesn’t feel it has to pay a price for Iran to do what is already in its own interest.”

When asked if the Obama administration had seriously considered a military option against Iran, Dr. Samore said that military action was “very seriously” considered. Operational plans were drawn up, including how to limit military escalation, minimize “blowback” to allies in the region and prevent Iran from closing the Straits of Hormuz – the Middle East’s oil-shipping passageway to the West.

Although Dr. Samore believes that the U.S. would take military action if Iran were to make an overt move toward nuclear weapons, he doesn’t think that is likely to happen -- namely, because Ayatollah Khomeini “is not willing to take risk of US attack.” Thus, the threat of military action -- as well as the imposition of economic sanction and export controls -- has been an effective tool in deterring Iran from doing what they could have done to move closer to obtaining nuclear weapons.

Most relevant to the current negotiations, all of these options have allowed both Iran and the West to buy time. And in the current political climate, that may be, ironically, a victory for both sides. 

Dr. Samore is currently head of research at Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

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URL: 
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