Posted tagged ‘Javad Zarif’

Iran Seeking ‘Many Billions of Dollars’ in Ransom to Free U.S. Hostages

October 19, 2016

Iran Seeking ‘Many Billions of Dollars’ in Ransom to Free U.S. Hostages, Washington Free Beacon, , October 19, 2016

(Again. — DM)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference on the second anniversary of his election, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2015. Rouhani said a final nuclear deal is "within reach" as Iran and world powers face a June 30 deadline for an agreement. Rouhani said Iran will allow inspections of its nuclear facilities but vowed that the Islamic republic won't allow its state "secrets" to be jeopardized under the cover of international inspections. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference on the second anniversary of his election, in Tehran, Iran, Saturday, June 13, 2015.  (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

Iran experts who spoke to the Free Beacon said that Iran senses weakness in the United States and is angling to squeeze more money from the administration before it leaves office.

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Iran is seeking “many billions of dollars” in payments from the United States in exchange for the release of several U.S. hostages still being detained in Iran, according to reports by Iran’s state-controlled press that are reigniting debate over the Obama administration’s decision earlier this year to pay Iran $1.7 billion in cash.

Senior Iranian officials, including the country’s president, have been floating the possibility of further payments from the United States for months. Since the White House agreed to pay Tehran $1.7 billion in cash earlier this year as part of a deal bound up in the release of American hostages, Iran has captured several more U.S. citizens.

Future payments to Iran could reach as much as $2 billion, according to sources familiar with the matter, who said that Iran is detaining U.S. citizens in Iran’s notorious Evin prison where inmates are routinely tortured and abused.

Iranian news sources close to the country’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, which has been handling prisoner swaps with the United States, reported on Tuesday that Iran expects “many billions of dollars to release” those U.S. citizens still being detained.”

“We should wait and see, the U.S. will offer … many billions of dollars to release” American businessman Siamak Namazi and his father Baquer, who was abducted by Iran after the United States paid Iran the $1.7 billion, according to the country’s Mashregh News outlet, which has close ties to the IRGC’s intelligence apparatus.

The Persian language news report was independently translated for the Washington Free Beacon.

Six hostages have been sentenced to 10 years in prison by Iran in the past months, including the Namazis.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani told NBC News in late September that his government is in talks with the United States to secure future payouts, a disclosure that may have played a role in the White House’s recent decision to veto legislation to block future ransom payments to Iran.

“We’re currently conducting conversations and various dialogues in order to return this money to Iran,” Rouhani was quoted as saying. “Perhaps these dialogues can be still conducted simultaneously on parallel tracks while we’re conducting those same conversations in order to free the sums of money that are still owed to us.”

One senior congressional adviser familiar with the issue told the Free Beacon that Iranian officials have been pressing for another $2 billion from the United States for months.

“Iranian officials including Foreign Minister [Mohammad Javad] Zarif have been bragging for months that they’re going to force the U.S. to pay them several billion dollars more,” the source said. “Now officials across the spectrum in Iran—from IRGC hardliners to the ostensibly moderate President Rouhani—are talking about those billions, and maybe several more, alongside chatter about the U.S. hostages.”

“Even some family members of the hostages talk that way, which is completely understandable given what they’re going through, but it doesn’t change the fact that the administration is gearing up to give Iran another ransom in the hundreds of millions and maybe again billions,” the source added.

Rumors of future ransom payments to Iran come as Congress continues to investigate the circumstances surrounding the $1.7 billion cash payment, a portion of which was delivered by plane to Iran just hours before it released several U.S. prisoners.

The Free Beacon recently disclosed that details of this payment and other details bound up in the hostage release are being stored in a highly secure location on Capitol Hill, preventing many from accessing the documents, which are not classified but are being treated as such.

The three documents show that the cash payment was directly tied to the prisoner release, adding fuel to claims of a ransom payment, according to sources who have viewed them.

Iran experts who spoke to the Free Beacon said that Iran senses weakness in the United States and is angling to squeeze more money from the administration before it leaves office.

“Paying $1.7 billion to Iran to release the U.S. prisoners has encouraged Iran to arrest more Americans,” said Saeed Ghasseminejad, an associate fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. “Iran senses weakness in the U.S. leadership as it constantly tests the administration through a chain of provocative actions. To put an end to Iran’s abduction program, the administration should make it clear, by action and not words, that it does not reward Iran for its bad behavior.”

Conceding to Iran’s demands will only bolster the hardline regime, Ghasseminejad said.

“The administration must show strength in response to Iran’s other provocative actions in the region,” he said. “The administration also should warn American citizens and green card holders that Iran is a very dangerous place for them to travel or do business. However, such warning contradicts the administration’s continuous efforts to encourage investors and big banks to do business with Iran. The administration also should impose sanction on the entities and individuals involved in this abduction program.”

Nobel Prize Rumors Put Focus On Kerry-Iran Coziness

October 1, 2015

Nobel Prize Rumors Put Focus On Kerry-Iran Coziness, Washington Free Beacon, October 1, 2015

Kerry-and-ZarifJohn Kerry and Mohammad Javad Zarif / AP

Growing speculation that John Kerry will receive a Nobel Peace Prize for finalizing the Iranian nuclear deal is generating renewed criticism of his close relationship with the Iranian foreign minister, Javad Zarif, a key public face for the theocratic regime who is rumored to be a probable co-recipient with Kerry.

Rumors have been circulating for months that Kerry and Zarif will be co-selected for the prize. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a leading Swedish think-tank, recommended in July that the two be selected for the Nobel in 2016.

Lawmakers and Washington insiders who have worked for years on the Iran portfolio have reacted with shock to the rumors, telling the Washington Free Beacon in multiple interviews that both Kerry and Zarif are unfit to receive the prize.

“We have seen Nobel Prizes that appeared to be awarded to people who have acted staunchly to the detriment of Israel’s existence, and if that is their inclination this time, I think Secretary Kerry should be first runner up for the Nobel Prize, right behind the Ayatollah,” said Rep. Louie Gohmert (R., Texas).

The Nobel Prize speculation comes after months of reports describing warmth and comfort between the American and Iranian teams that sealed the final Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

The United States considers Iran to be the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism and military officials have linked Tehran to the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers in Iraq.

The growing rumors have reignited criticism among insiders of Kerry’s coziness with top Iranian officials and of the deal more specifically.

“No one should be surprised if the Nobel Peace Prize committee ends up awarding the chief negotiators of a catastrophic agreement that preserves and legitimizes Iran’s ability to build nuclear arms, and unleashes over $100 billion for Iran to further fund Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and other terrorists who attack Israel,” said one senior GOP aide who has long worked on the issue.

Those who spoke to the Free Beacon both on and off the record said that Kerry and Zarif would make a mockery of the award. The recognition of Zarif in particular, a longtime Iranian regime insider known for his vociferous dislike of Israel, was particularly offensive to some observers.

“I assume they’ll win it. It will be announced in early-mid October, and then Kerry can resign in glory and join the Democratic presidential race,” said Bill Kristol, the prominent conservative commentator and editor of the Weekly Standard.

Like Kristol, other observers feel certain that the Nobel commission will grant the award to Kerry and Zarif either this year or next.

“American historians will judge Kerry as one of the worst secretaries of state in the country’s history, a man who ceded enormous parts of the globe to hostile American rivals and legitimized the Iranian nuclear program,” said one senior pro-Israel official who has been involved in the Iran fight but was not authorized to speak on record.

“It’s not a surprise that European elites, who find America’s rivals preferable to America and want to do business with Iran, are going to reward him for it,” the source said.

When asked this week to address the speculation, a spokesman for the Nobel Foundation declined to confirm who may or may not be in the running.

“The Nobel Foundation cannot comment, confirm, or deny rumors of the kind described in your email below,” the official said.

“According to the statutes of the Nobel Foundation and the prize awarding institutions of the Nobel Prize all nominations are classified information,” the official added, explaining that in some case nominators choose to reveal who they have nominated.

Nominations for the 2015 Nobel Prize had to be made before Jan. 31 of this year, before the nuclear deal was finalized. If chosen after this date, the nominees would be considered in the 2016 cycle.

“I think the work of the Nobel Committee of the Norwegian Parliament this year just got much easier,” Carl Bildt, the former Swedish prime minister, tweeted immediately after the nuclear agreement was announced in Vienna.

“A Nobel Peace Prize for John Kerry?” the Week asked the following day. “It could happen.”

Conservative commentators, such as National Review’s Jay Nordlinger, also picked up on the speculation.

“If the Norwegian Nobel Committee gives John Kerry the peace prize for the Iran deal, and Iran goes nuclear, will he throw away his Nobel medal?” Nordlinger asked in August, as criticism of the deal mounted.

Iran Openly Declares That It Intends To Violate UNSCR 2231 That Endorses The JCPOA

September 23, 2015

Iran Openly Declares That It Intends To Violate UNSCR 2231 That Endorses The JCPOA, Middle East Media Research Institute, September 22, 2015

(Please see also, Iran wants to renegotiate parts of the nuke “deal.” That may be good. Iran’s declaration that it intends to violate UNSCR 2231, dealing with missile development and related sanctions, should further prompt the U.S. Congress to repudiate the “deal.”– DM)

When the Americans moved the sanctions on the missile program to UNSCR 2231, Iran did not object, as, according to their statements above, they can violate Security Council resolutions, as they have done in the past, and this will not be regarded as a violation of the JCPOA.

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In statements, three Iranian leaders – President Hassan Rohani, Foreign Minister Zarif, and Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiator Abbas Araghchi – emphasized that Iran has no intention of abiding by UNSRC 2231, which includes the JCPOA and another element; rather, that they will abide only by the original JCPOA.

The Iran nuclear deal consists of the following:

A.   A set of understandings between Iran and the P5+1 powers (as well as the remaining disagreements) all in a single package called the JCPOA. It is not a contract between Iran and the P5+1 countries as a group or any single one of them, and hence no document was signed.

B.   This set of mutual understandings (as well as disagreements) packaged in the JCPOA was transferred, following the conclusion of negotiations in Vienna on July 14, 2015, to the UN Security Council, for endorsement as a UN Security Council resolution. The resolution, UNSCR 2231, was passed on July 25, 2015 and it includes, in addition to the JCPOA, another element (Annex B) with further stipulations regarding Iran. For example, it addresses the sanctions on Iran’s missile development project.

To understand why UNSCR 2231 is structured in this way, we can look at statements by top Iranian negotiators about the process that led up to it:

In a July 20, 2015 interview on Iranian Channel 2, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and senior negotiator Abbas Araghchi said that there had been tough bargaining between the Iranian and American delegations over the issue of the arms embargo on Iran and the sanctions related to Iran’s missile development project. “The Americans sought their inclusion in the JCPOA, claiming that otherwise they could not face criticism from Arab countries in the region. When they said that they could not lift the sanctions altogether, we told them explicitly that in that case there is no agreement. We told them that the national security issues are non-negotiable and that we will not accept an agreement which continues the embargo on weapons and the sanctions on missile development. In the end, the Americans said, We will put the issue of the embargo and the missiles in the UN Security Council Resolution separate from the agreement.”

In the same interview, Araghchi was asked whether Iran could refrain from carrying out UNSCR 2231; he replied: “Yes we can; just as we refrained from complying with UN Security Council resolutions, we can do so with regards to 2231.”

Araghchi also referred to the Iranian Foreign Ministry statement issued following the passage of UNSCR 2231: “The Iranian Foreign Ministry statement explicitly noted that Iran does not attach legitimacy to any restriction and any threat. If UNSCR 2231 will be violated by Iran, it will be a violation of the Security Council resolution and not of the JCPOA, similar to what happened 10 years ago when we violated Security Council resolutions and nothing happened. The text of the JCPOA notes the fact that the content of the JCPOA and of the UN Security Council resolution are two separate things.”[1]

Foreign Minister Zarif, in an August 9, 2015 media interview, reiterated the Iranian position regarding the difference between the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231, with a focus on the consequences of possible violation of the two by Iran. He said: “There is a difference between the JCPOA and UNSCR 2231. Violating the JCPOA has consequences, while violating UNSCR 2231 has no consequences.”[2]

Indeed, the restrictions regarding missiles are mentioned only in UNSCR 2231, and not in the JCPOA.

On August 29, 2015, Iranian President Hassan Rohani said: “There is nothing about the topic of missiles, defense, and weapons in the JCPOA.  Whatever we have about it is in Resolution [UNSCR] 2231… Moreover, we have formally announced that we are not committed to all the sections that appear in the resolution [2231], and we specified in the JCPOA that violation of the resolution [2231] does not mean violation of the JCPOA…[3]

The meaning of all this is that in everything related to the issue of missile development, Iran will disregard UNSCR 2231. Already during the negotiations, it insisted on no imposition of sanctions on Iran regarding its missile development (and no sanctions at all). When the Americans moved the sanctions on the missile program to UNSCR 2231, Iran did not object, as, according to their statements above, they can violate Security Council resolutions, as they have done in the past, and this will not be regarded as a violation of the JCPOA.

Endnotes:

[1] ISNA.ir/fa/news/94042915462/%D9%85%D9%85%D9%86%D9%88%D8%B9%DB%8C%D8%AA-%D9%87%D8%A7%DB%8C-%D8%AA%D8%B3%D9%84%DB%8C%D8%AD%D8%A7%D8%AA%DB%8C-%D9%88-%D9%85%D9%88%D8%B4%DA%A9%DB%8C-%D8%A8%D9%87- .

[2] Foreign Minister Javad Zarif said this at an August 9, 2015 conference sponsored by the Iranian daily Ittil’atwith other senior negotiators in attendance. See text in Farsi here.

[3] President.ir/fa/89047, August 30, 2015.

Iran appears to wants changes in the JCPOA

September 22, 2015

Expected September 28 NY Meeting Between P5+1 Foreign Ministers And Iran Could Signify Reopening Of Nuclear Negotiations To Address Khamenei’s September 3 Threat That If Sanctions Are Not Lifted, But Merely Suspended, There Will Be No Agreement, MEMRI, September 21, 2015

(If the JCPOA is renegotiated, in any respect, will Congress get another opportunity to challenge it? If so, will a way be found to deal with it as a treaty? The answer to both questions should be yes. — DM)

The expected meeting between the P5+1 foreign ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif may be evidence of a shift in the White House position and also evidence that it intends to discuss the Iranian demand for further concessions from the superpowers.

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Recent reports indicate that the foreign ministers of the P5+1 are set to meet with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in New York on September 28, 2015, on the margins of the UN General Assembly, to “examine the recent developments of the JCPOA.”[1]

On September 20, 2015, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said, at a joint press conference in Berlin with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier, that he would meet Zarif in New York to discuss “Iran and other matters.”[2]

Additionally, Ali Akbar Velayati, a senior advisor to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and the head of Iran’s Center for Strategic Research, said on September 19, 2015 that “the nuclear negotiations are not over yet.”[3]

As will be recalled, Khamenei said, in a September 3, 2015 speech to the Assembly of Experts, that he did not accept the terms of the agreement and demanded that the sanctions be immediately lifted rather than merely suspended; otherwise, he said, there would either be no agreement, or Iran too would merely suspend its execution of its obligations under the JCPOA. He said: “We negotiated [with the Americans] in order to have the sanctions lifted, and the sanctions will be lifted. Now, if we are supposed to uphold this framework… this completely contradicts the reason for Iran’s participation in the talks to begin with. Otherwise, what was the point of our participation in the talks? We would have continued to do what we were doing [prior to the talks]… The fact that we sat down and held talks and made concessions on certain issues was mainly in order to have the sanctions lifted. If the sanctions are not going to be lifted, there will be no agreement… [Our] officials [i.e. Rohani’s government and his Ministry of Foreign Affairs] should make this clear…

“Freezing or suspension [of the sanctions] is unacceptable to me… If they suspend [the sanctions], we too will suspend [what is incumbent upon us]. If we are to implement what [is required of us], the sanctions must be [actually] cancelled. True, the other side says that some of the sanctions are not [up to them entirely] to be lifted. We say in response that [with regard to those sanctions] we will use our legal rights to freeze them. But regarding [the sanctions that are] in the hands of the American and European governments – those must be totally lifted.”[4]

The apparent meaning of all the above is that the nuclear negotiations, which Iran considers unfinished, will be reopened, with the aim of achieving the complete lifting of sanctions – instead of a mere suspension of them as was agreed in the JCPOA and adopted in UN Security Council Resolution 2231.

It will also be recalled that following Khamenei’s September 3 demands, on September 4 the White House responded; spokesman Josh Earnest said that Iran was charged with meeting its obligations under the JCPOA: “What we have indicated all along is that once an agreement was reached, as it was back in mid-July, that we would be focused on Iran’s actions and not their words, and that we will be able to tell if Iran follows through on the commitments that they made in the context of these negotiations. And that is what will determine our path forward here.

“We’ve been crystal clear about the fact that Iran will have to take a variety of serious steps to significantly roll back their nuclear program before any sanctions relief is offered – and this is everything from reducing their nuclear uranium stockpile by 98 percent, disconnecting thousands of centrifuges, essentially gutting the core of their heavy-water reactor at Arak, giving the IAEA the information and access they need in order to complete their report about the potential military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. And then we need to see Iran begin to comply with the inspections regime that the IAEA will put in place to verify their compliance with the agreement.

“And only after those steps and several others have been effectively completed, will Iran begin to receive sanctions relief.  The good news is all of this is codified in the agreement that was reached between Iran and the rest of the international community. And that’s what we will be focused on, is their compliance with the agreement.”[5]

The expected meeting between the P5+1 foreign ministers and Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif may be evidence of a shift in the White House position and also evidence that it intends to discuss the Iranian demand for further concessions from the superpowers.

It should be clarified that agreement on the part of the U.S. to lifting the sanctions would constitute a fundamental change to the JCPOA. This is because lifting the sanctions, rather than suspending them, will render impossible a snapback in case of Iranian violations, and the guarantee of a snapback is one of the central justifications for the JCPOA, according to President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry.

Endnotes:

[1] Fars (Iran), September 21, 2015.

[2] State.gov, September 20, 2015.

[3] Fars (Iran), September 19, 2015. It should be mentioned that Majlis member Hamid Rasaei said that the language of the agreement signed by Abbas Araghchi that was delivered to Majlis committees was “a partial document with many translating errors and omissions.” He added that the government must present the agreement to the Majlis in the form of a draft law and that a Majlis committee is currently “examining a version that is neither a proposal nor a draft law.” Tasnim (Iran), September 20, 2015.

[5] Whitehouse.gov, September 4, 2015.

Nuclear Jihad

September 7, 2015

Nuclear Jihad, Gatestone InstituteDenis MacEoin, September 7, 2015

    • In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.
    • The Iranian regime not only despises democracy; it considers all Western law, including international law, invalid.
    • The Shi’a consider themselves underdogs, who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 revolution was all about, and it is what present the Iranian regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage. These are not Anglican vicars.
    • The Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.” — Iran’s Constitution, Article “The Religious Army”.
    • A Third World War is already taking place. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.
    • Obama’s trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons, rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. Even if it did,fatwas are not permanent.
    • Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all? Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

“[Some] analysts,” writes the historian and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren, “claimed the president [Barack Obama] regarded Iran as an ascendant and logical power — unlike the feckless, disunited Arabs and those troublemaking Israelis — that could assist in resolving other regional conflicts. I first heard this theory at Georgetown back in 2008, in conversation with think tankers and former State Department officials. They also believed Iran’s radical Islam was merely an expression of interests and fears that the United States could with sufficient goodwill, meet and allay. … Iran, according to Obama was a pragmatic player with addressable interest. For Netanyahu, Iran was irrational, messianic, and genocidal – ‘worse,’ he said, ‘than fifty North Koreas.'”[1]

Since the signing of the deal at the UN, hot-tempered criticisms and defences have gone into overdrive in the political, journalistic, and diplomatic spheres. Acres have been written and are still being written about the deal, making it the hottest political potato of recent years. Expert analysts such as Omri Ceren and, more recently, Joel Rosenberg have cut through the deliberate obfuscation to show the extent of the dangers the deal presents to the Middle East, the United States, Israel, and the world.

The deal’s supporters insist that it will bring peace and calm to the region, while a host of denigrators — chief among them Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu — have exposed the enormous risks it entails. Already, a vast majority of American citizens are opposed to the deal.

Within the U.S. Congress, bipartisan opposition to the deal is high and mounting. Yet, on September 2, President Obama succeeded in winning over a 34th senator, enough that ultimate passage of the deal is a foregone conclusion. That does not, however, mean that the debate will end. In all likelihood, it will grow fiercer as time passes and true consequences become clearer to the public and politicians alike.

Recent revelations that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which oversees nuclear developments worldwide, has agreed that only Iranians will be allowed to inspect the most controversial of Iran’s nuclear sites, have raised anxieties about proper monitoring of the deal. The military complex of Parchin, where Iran is suspected of work on nuclear weapons, will be closed to outside inspection, making it certain that, if Iran decides to cheat (something it has done before), it will be able to do so with impunity. Sanctions will not be re-imposed. And, as we shall see, cheating on the deal can be justified by the Iranians who could always refer to the practice of the prophet Muhammad with the Quraysh tribe in Mecca.

Obama, his Secretary of State John Kerry, and the entire US administration are not merely behind the deal, but almost fanatically so. Many argue that Obama is more interested in securing his “legacy” as the world’s greatest peacemaker (or war-creator, as the case may well turn out to be), the statesman par excellence who alone could bring the theocratic regime of Iran in from the cold and shower the Middle East with true balance in its troubled affairs.

To bring this about, Obama has had to diminish, if not leave totally open to obliteration, American support for Israel, the single country in the world most clearly exposed to a possible genocide should the Iran’s Islamic regime choose to exterminate it, as it has so often threatened to do.

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words mellal-e Eslami bayad Esra’il-ra qal’ o qam’ kard – “the Islamic nations must exterminate Israel” — have been given renewed vigour now that it is highly likely that Iran, evading serious inspections by the IAEA, will soon possess the weapons to do just that.

Even if the treaty is a done deal, it is time to show yet another massive hole in the administration’s strategy. Already, Obama, Kerry and the tightly knit administration have shown themselves remarkably obdurate in turning a blind eye to the many concerns that surround the deal. At the end of the “sunset period,” if not sooner, Iran gets to have, legitimately, as many bombs as it likes. Other problems include breakout times; centrifuge production; centrifuge concealment; uranium enrichment by stealth; refusal to allow the IAEA to inspect military sites; the acquisition of intercontinental ballistic missiles — presumably to be used intercontinentally at guess who. It is no secret that the hardliners in Iran still speak of America as “The Great Satan” and consider it their enemy. That does not even include the implications of lifting sanctions on, and paying billions of dollars to, the world’s main sponsor of terrorism.

As Michael Oren has shown, however, the American president presumably thinks he is doing a deal with a logical and pragmatic regime. Barack Obama, an intelligent, well-read man of Muslim origin, knows almost nothing about Islam; that is the greatest flaw in the Iran deal he has fought so hard to inflict on the human race. With access to platoons of experts, to some of the greatest libraries with holdings in Islamic doctrines and history, and with the Mullahs and Iran’s public still daily promising to destroy America, Obama apparently still believes Islam is a religion of peace and that a theocratic, terror-supporting, medieval regime should have the power to make nuclear bombs. The obverse is that he might like, perhaps not wittingly, to see America, Israel and the West brought to their knees.

This author has previously exposed one aspect of Iran’s serious lack of logic, rationality, or pragmatism — namely the extent to which apocalyptic thinking, messianic prophecy, and dreams of Islamic transcendence through universal conflict pervade the clerical elite, a high percentage of the masses, and even the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. One might assume that this would be especially true when they are flush with cash and nuclear weapons, and the risk to their own survival is substantially lower.

On August 17, just over a month after the signing of the nuclear deal, Iran’s Supreme Leader, ‘Ali Khamene’i, addressed a religious conference, where he expressed his undying hatred for the United States. He said, for example:

We must combat the plans of the arrogance [i.e. the West, led by the U.S.] with jihad for the sake of Allah. … jihad for the sake of God does not only mean military conflict, but also means cultural, economic, and political struggle. The clearest essence of jihad for the sake of God today is to identify the plots of the arrogance in the Islamic region, especially the sensitive and strategic West Asian region. The planning for the struggle against them should include both defense and offense.

The deal has done nothing whatever to stop military threats to Israel, an ally of the United States (though treated with disrespect by America’s president). Speaking on 2 September, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corp’s top commander in Tehran province, Brigadier General Mohsen Kazemayni, stated that, “… they [the US and the Zionists] should know that the Islamic Revolution will continue enhancing its preparedness until it overthrows Israel and liberates Palestine.”

There is a simple word for this: warmongering.

Why is the U.S. President insisting on a bad deal with a warmongering regime?

When a military force at its strongest fantasizes about the coming of a Messiah (the Twelfth Imam) to lead them to victory over all infidels, talk of logic, rationality and pragmatism seems acutely out of touch with reality.

Obama’s assumption that there is something solid about the Iranian regime that makes it suitable as a recipient for such largesse and the chance to enrich uranium until kingdom come seems to be based on false consciousness. The regime has been in place for almost forty years, quite a respectable time for a dictatorship. In part, that has been because it has mastered the art of suppression, giving its people a degree of freedom that is missing in several other Islamic countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Sudan, or Afghanistan. These partial freedoms, especially for young people, lull the population into risk-averseness, possibly helped along by the memory in 2009 of pleas for more freedom, which the United States ignored and the mullahs savaged.

Obama, in his ongoing attempt to portray Islam as benign — and a dictatorial regime as a sold basis for peace and understanding in the Middle East — ignores the religious element of the theocracy, as well as the sadistic repression, and in doing so misses a lot.

First of all, Shi’ite Islam is different from its Sunni big brother. It is deeply imbued with features largely absent from Sunni Islam. The most important Shi’i denomination is that of the Twelvers (Ithna’ ‘Ashariyya), who, from the beginning of Islam, have believed themselves to be not only the true version of the faith, but the group destined by God to rule in its name. Beginning with ‘Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet and the fourth Caliph of the Sunnis, the Shi’a began as his supporters. (Please see the Appendix that follows this article: it contains material that even Barack Obama and his advisors need to know; without it, they simply will not “get” what the ayatollahs are about. It comes to an important conclusion that has considerable bearing on today’s events — and not the one you may expect.)

Beneath the smiles and banter lie the unsmiling masks and the taqiyya-flavoured lies. Beneath the wheeling and dealing and the refusals to compromise lies a sense of destiny for the regime, a belief that it stands on the brink of the realization of the centuries-old Shi’ite dream: that God will finally set his people on the pinnacle of the world and usher in the never-ending reign of the Imam Mahdi, with all injustice gone, the martyrs in paradise, the ayatollahs and mujtahids andmaraji’ in glory, and all the infidels in hell.

It is precisely because Barack Obama and his aides have never got down and dirty to take in hard information that they have remained utterly out of touch with the real springs and cogs of Iranian Shi’ite thinking.

Obama has, when all is said and done, let himself be deluded by the charm offensive of Hassan Rouhani and his henchman Javad Zarif. Obama may not believe in the mystical land of Hurqalyaor the white steed on which the Twelfth Imam will ride to the world’s last battle any more than you or I do. But the clerical elite of Iran, and those who follow them blindly — men and women brought up from birth on these tales, and who travel in the thousands every day to send a message to the Imam at the Jamkaran Mosque near Qom — believe these things with absolute devotion, and that is why this story matters, because it has political consequences.

Shi’i Muslim law enshrines jihad, holy war, as fully as does Sunni law. For Sunnis, jihad has always been possible under the authority of a Caliph, whether fought under his orders or led by kings and governors under his broad aegis.

The Shi’a, however, do not recognize the Caliphate and have often been the victims of Sunni jihads. They may feel impelled to fight a holy war, but under what authority could they do so?

The power of the clergy had waned under the anti-clerical reign of Iran’s Pahlavi dynasty (1925-1979), only to burst out more strongly than ever in the Islamic Revolution, which placed all authority in a new system of government: rule by a religious jurist, a faqih.[2] Overnight, a jihad state was brought into existence; a jihad state with vast oil reserves, modern military equipment, and, at first, the support of almost the entire Iranian population. The clerical hierarchy under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini did not just intend to prepare the way for the coming of the Mahdi. They were now his earthly deputies, in whose hands lay life and death for millions.

The new Shi’ism allowed the clergy to take on powers they had never imagined. More and more economic and legal power came to be concentrated in the hands of a narrow body of scholars, and sometimes a single man could be the source of religious and legal authority for the entire Shi’i world — in Iran, Afghanistan, eastern Arabia, Bahrain, and so on. Thus were the foundations laid for the revolutionary rank of Supreme Leader, taken by the Ayatollahs Khomeini and Khamene’i.

Look for a moment at the preamble to the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran.[3] You will see quickly that this does not read like any other constitution you have seen. The preamble sets the tone. Here, in an account of the circumstances leading to the revolution we read of the clergy as the ruhaniyyat-e mobarez, “the militant or fighting clergy.” These are not Anglican vicars at their prayers or rabbis studying Talmud. A mobarez is a warrior, a champion, a fighter. Not far down the preamble, one encounters a description of their struggle as “The Great Holy War,”jihad-e bozorg. We are not in Obama’s world of logical and pragmatic striving for political and diplomatic coherence. This is made even clearer in one of the constitution’s earlier articles, “The Religious Army.” Here, we read that the Iranian Army and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps “have responsibility… for a religious mission, which is Holy War (Jihad) in the path of God, and the struggle to extend the supremacy of God’s law in the world.”

How do you reach a compromise and a pragmatic deal with a regime that thinks in this way? Are the U.S. administration and the P5+1 blind to something the Iranians have never even bothered to conceal? Do they really take everything in the talks at face value? Perhaps they think references to jihad and fighting clergy are nothing more than pious talk “for domestic consumption,” as they tried to explain — as real and everyday as the myths and legends of other faiths. If they do, then they have far less excuse for their blindness, for the Iranian regime is already at war and is already fighting its jihad.

In Iraq, for example, a country with a majority Twelver Shi’i population, Iranian-backed militias have been at war for many years, first against the Americans, then the Sunnis, and now the hordes of Islamic State. In June 2014, Grand Ayatollah al-Sayyid ‘Ali al-Husayni al-Sistani issued a fatwa calling on Iraqis to fight against Islamic State, justifying their fight as jihad wajib kafa’i: a Jihad that is compulsory for those who choose it, but not for the entire population. The ruling calls for a struggle against ISIS’s irhab – their “terrorism.” Jihad is a religious and legal duty, and even though ISIS may call its fighting jihad, it is here condemned as terror.

Hezbollah, created and backed by Iran, is by far the largest terrorist group in the region. Hezbollah is considered a state within a state, with forces and infrastructure inside Lebanon and Syria. It has used the name “Islamic Jihad Organization” to cover its attacks on Israeli forces in Lebanon. In its 1988 Open Letter (Risala maftuha), it describes its followers as “Combatants of the Holy War” and goes on — in terms similar to those in the Hamas Covenant — “our struggle will end only when this entity [Israel] is obliterated. We recognize no treaty with it, no cease fire, and no peace agreements, whether separate or consolidated.”

Hezbollah and its creator, the Iranian Islamic regime, have a curious link to the Palestinian terror movement, Hamas, despite Hamas being exclusively Sunni. By financing, arming, and defending Hamas, Iran is fighting a strange proxy jihad that serves its own purposes of defying the West, achieving regional hegemony, and winning praise from all Muslims in the world for its own war against Israel. It also furthers the goals of the Muslim Brotherhood (of which Hamas is the Palestinian branch) in the same struggle.

I have dragged you through the briars and mud because it is important here to see another culture through its own eyes. If we insist in pretending that Shi’i Muslims think like Sunni Muslims or, worse still, like Jews or Christians — if we brush all that history and all those doctrines under the carpet of “any deal is better than no deal ” — we will go on making the same mistakes. We will believe that a purely political and diplomatic enterprise to bring Iran in from the cold and create a new trading alliance will transform an evil regime into a land of sweetness and light.

Members of the U.S. Congress must wake up and examine, in however cursory a fashion, these views that motivate the Iranian leadership, and must stop pretending that they are as logical and pragmatic as would be convenient for the wishes of the West.

Not that Obama and Kerry have ever sounded logical or pragmatic in how they have approached this debate and this deal-making process. In an act of supreme folly, the White House has dismissed Ayatollah Khamene’i’s recent call for “Death to America;” they pretend it is just empty rhetoric for the Iranian people.

1169Left: Senior Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Ali Movahedi Kermani, speaking on July 17 in Tehran, behind a banner reading “We Will Trample Upon America” and “We defeat the United States.” Right: Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, proclaims “Death to America” on March 2

We are walking with a blindfold toward sure disaster. Forget the dreams of a Messiah if you will, but do not for one moment let yourself be lulled into thinking that only ISIS is serious about waging a jihad.

Despite their oft-expressed delusion that “Islam is a religion of peace,” President Obama, Secretary John Kerry and other leaders are, like it or not, already engaged in a war against jihad. They have already fought it in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and elsewhere. However much Obama wants to stand off from involvement in the jihad struggles of the Middle East, he cannot: Western states are fighting jihad, sometimes abroad, increasingly at home.

A Third World War is already taking place, a war the Islamists and Islamic states understand, but which many in the West still refuse to grasp. They are not even willing to respect the true motivations of the enemies against whom they fight. The Iran deal strengthens the hands of a regime that is the world’s terrorist state, a state that furthers jihad in many places because its clerical hierarchy considers itself uniquely empowered to order and promote holy war.

Let us for the moment ignore the nuclear aspect of this deal and look instead on what it offers the world’s leading jihad state. The removal of sanctions coupled with the business deals Europeans and others are rushing to secure, the delivery of perhaps $150 billion to Tehran, and the turning of many blind eyes to both Iran’s internal repression and its jihad wars in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Gaza, and Lebanon leave the ayatollahs poised to dominate much of the Middle East.

And that is not all. Obama’s belief in the stability of the Iranian regime seems to rest on its endurance since 1979. His trust in Khamene’i’s presumed fatwa of 2013, forbidding nuclear weapons rests on the assumption that it even exists. It does not. No one has ever seen it. Even if the fatwa did exist, fatwas are not permanent. They are always regarded as temporary rulings with Twelver Shi’ism. This is a crucial technical point that the White House seems incapable of — or ill-disposed to — grasping.

Further, Obama’s faith in Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as a reformer and moderate flies in the face of Rouhani’s devotion to the hardline clerical leadership of which he is a part. Here are a few facts:

  • ‘Ali Khamene’i is 76 years old, but his health is poor and he may not live much longer. Already, factions within the hierarchy will be jostling for the Supreme Leadership.
  • In the Usuli Twelver version of Shi’ism, once a Mujtahid dies, his fatwas are no longer valid. A new Mujtahid or, in this case, a new Supreme Leader, has to issue fatwas of his own. A new fatwa may confirm an old one or radically differ from it.
  • A new Supreme Leader is an unpredictable personality.
  • The Iranian nuclear program is already up and running.
  • The breakout time for weapons grade materials may be as short as three months.
  • Iran already has and is acquiring ballistic missiles with an intercontinental range.
  • Jihad is hard-wired into the regime’s philosophy.
  • Iran is already conducting a series of jihad wars abroad.
  • Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has expressed a hope to return to the presidency in 2017. Ahmadinejad and his clique are bent on apocalyptic outcomes and actions to bring the Hidden Imam back to this world.

We only have to get this wrong once. Chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel” are not narcotic iterations of slogans but sincerely felt expressions of intent.

Khamene’i last month praised the Iranian people for calling for the deaths of the USA and Israel, and said that he hoped God would answer their prayers because in at most ten years, the Iranian mullahs and their IRGC will possess the power to exterminate Israel, if they and their God so wish.

Why, then, is this deal going ahead at all?

Why are sanctions against the world’s leading exporter of jihadi terrorism being lifted, not strengthened?

Why is one of the world’s most tyrannical regimes being rewarded for its intransigence, and especially for repeatedly violating the Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Why has Israel’s Prime Minister been vilified and sidelined simply for drawing attention to the weaknesses of a deal that could lead to the death of all of his people?

Why have the P5+1 never taken seriously the Shi’ite rule that it is permitted to lie to infidels and conceal one’s own true intentions?

Why are secrets being kept — such as the contents of the two side-deals?

Why is the U.S. Congress being asked to vote without the benefit of full disclosure?

Why is the IAEA banned from spontaneously inspecting only declared Iranian nuclear sites, and why are military sites completely off-limits?

The questions are so many and so critical that we remain in the dark about where this will lead mankind. No one who has ever done a financial or political deal would ever sign on the dotted line until they had answers to all their questions. Far more hangs on this deal than perhaps any deal in history. Yet those who want to make it enforceable under international law are uninformed about the most basic contents of the deal, as well as the beliefs and historical roots of their enemy.

Such folly is almost without precedence, except possibly in the process of appeasement that endeavoured to placate the Third Reich and treat Adolf Hitler as the best friend of democracy.

The Iranian regime not only despises democracy, it considers all Western law — including international law — invalid. This view has several deep roots. For both Sunni and Shi’i Muslims, only rule under God is valid, under a Caliph or a clerical theocracy under a Supreme Ruler. Human beings have no right to interfere. Democracy leads to the making of human laws that may contradict shari’a law, and such effrontery is considered arrogant and presumptuous. The democratic elements in Iran are tightly controlled, and supremacy rests in all areas beneath clerical authority. The same principle applies to international law, UN resolutions, treaties and so forth.

Iran has openly genocidal intent, as well as a devotion to holy war that goes to the very deepest level.

Before we leave the subject of jihad, there is one other factor that everyone has overlooked. It is the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah, the most important agreement in early Islamic history. In the year 628, Muhammad, now ruling in Medina, signed the ten-year Treaty of Hudaybiyyah with his long-time enemies, the tribal confederacy of Quraysh, who ruled Mecca. Twenty-two months later, under the pretext that a clan from a tribe allied with the Quraysh had squabbled with a tribe allied to the Muslims, Muhammad broke the treaty and attacked Mecca, conquering it.

What is important about this is that Muhammad had made the treaty while he was still relatively weak. But in the months after signing it, his alliances and growing conversions meant that he now possessed superior military strength — and that was when he pounced.

In 1994, the treaty became crucial to the issue of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.[4]In September 1993, Palestinian leader Yassir Arafat signed the Oslo Accords along with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, and the following year the two leaders were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

However, even as he awaited that prize, Arafat spoke at a mosque in Johannesburg alluded to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah and referred to “a jihad to liberate Jerusalem”: “I see this agreement,” he said, “as being no more than the agreement signed between our Prophet Muhammad and the Quraysh in Mecca.”

Non-Muslims may well have misunderstood this as a reference to some early Muslim peace-making. But Arafat made his meaning clear: “We now accept the peace agreement, but [only in order] to continue on the road to Jerusalem.”[5]

The nuclear deal that President Obama and his supporters have imposed will strengthen Iran considerably, removing sanctions and delivering perhaps $150 billion to the country. It is as certain as day follows night, that the Iranian regime will find a pretext to break the deal. Already, on September 3, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamene’i made it clear that he would back out of the deal if sanctions were not completely removed at once.

Whatever happens in the days ahead, the U.S. Congress, backed by a majority of the American public, needs to strike this madcap deal down before it wreaks a storm of tribulations on everyone.

Denis MacEoin has a PhD (Cambridge 1979) in Persian Studies and has written widely on Iran and its religious beliefs.

Appendix

‘Ali became the first in a line of twelve imams, all deemed the true leaders of Islam, but all denied their right to rule and all but one assassinated (or so it is claimed) by the Sunni Caliphs. From this comes the Shi’i sense of suffering, injustice, oppression by despots, neglect and rights — all of which played an important part in the 1979 revolution and continue to play out across society.

The Shi’a are the underdogs who are willing to sacrifice all to establish the rights of their imams and their successors. That was what the 1979 evolution was all about, and it is what present the regime still insists on as the justification for its opposition to Western intrusion, democracy, women’s rights and all the rest, which are deemed by Iran’s leadership as part of a plot to undermine and control the expansion of the Shi’i faith on the global stage.

The twelfth imam, according to Shi’ite legend, was a young boy, Muhammad al-Mahdi, the son of the murdered eleventh imam. Born in 869 in the Iraqi city of Samarra during the reign of the Sunni Abbasid Caliphate, his father, Hasan al-‘Askari, died when Muhammad was born.

It is said that young Muhammad, in order to avoid his enemies, went into something called Occultation (ghayba). Even if this originally was physical, he was never seen alive again and is supposed to have entered the celestial realm of Hurqalya, from which he will one day return as the promised Saviour, the Qa’im bi’l-Sayf, the One Who will Arise with the Sword to do battle with injustice and infidelity.

This belief is what waters modern Shi’i apocalypticism, something promoted intensely by former president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This expectation has considerable significance for Iran’s drive to nuclear power. But that is not why I raise the issue here. There is another, more mundane, aspect to the Imam’s disappearance and continued Occultation, and it may be even more relevant to the matters at hand.

The answer to what authority they could fight under was that only the Imam in each generation could order or lead jihad. But when the twelfth Imam vanished from human sight, was jihad to remain in abeyance until his return or could it be fought under another authority? The answer was not at first simple, but one thing started to happen: the Shi’a began to consider their religious scholars to be the intermediaries with the Imam, and this laid the basis for the possibility that they might have the right to order jihad. For some time, this was just conjectural, for the Shi’a had little worldly power.

In 1501, a new dynasty, the Safavids, came to power in Iran, forced most of the population to convert to Shi’ism, and created a line of kings under whom the clerical class became more and more powerful. The Shah could still lead jihad, but the clergy were needed to give permission. The Safavid dynasty lasted till 1722, and an interregnum was followed by the emergence of a new line of Shahs, the Qajars, who ruled from 1796 to 1925.

Under the Qajars, the Shi’i clerical hierarchy underwent deep and lasting changes, producing today’s version of Twelver Islam, the Usulis.

The newly powerful ‘ulama of the 19th century took on the mantle of deputies for the Hidden Imam and ordered jihads in 1809 and 1826 (against Russia), 1836, 1843, and 1856-7 (against the British). In 1914, when the British occupied Iraq at the start of World War I, the Shi’i clergy in the shrine centres there declared jihad to reinforce the call for Holy War by the Ottoman empire.

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[1] Ally by Michael Oren

[2] As in Khomeini’s theory and book, Velayat-e Faqih, the Custodianship of the Jurisprudent.

[3] Here in English, here in Persian.

[4] For a detailed discussion of the treaty and its implications for making peace with Muslims, see Daniel Pipes, “Lessons from the Prophet Muhammad’s Diplomacy,” The Middle East Quarterly, September 1999, pp. 65-72.

[5] Natasha Singer, “Arafat Text Raises Ire,” Forward, May 27, 1994.

Iran: Nuclear Deal Will Enable Support for Terrorism

August 26, 2015

Iran: Nuclear Deal Will Enable Support for Terrorism, Washington Free Beacon, August 25, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the New York University (NYU) Center on International Cooperation in New York April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif speaks at the New York University (NYU) Center on International Cooperation in New York April 29, 2015. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Multiple senior officials in recent days have said that the Iranian nuclear deal will help the Islamic Republic fund its global terrorist operations, including the financial backing of Hamas and other regional groups, according to a briefing by an Israeli intelligence group.

Iranian officials, speaking at multiple forums in recent days, stressed that the nuclear deal will embolden Iran’s support for its “regional allies” and that weapons and military support would continue to be delivered on the “resistance front,” according to a recent brief by the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center.

The officials outlined Iran’s plan to bolster its global terrorism operation and stated that the recent nuclear deal between Tehran and global powers will do nothing to deter Iran’s pursuit of regional dominance.

Ali-Akbar Velayati, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s adviser for international affairs, stated at a recent conference in Tehran that support for the “resistance front” is a top foreign policy objective.

The nuclear agreement, Velayati said, “would make it possible to increase Iran’s support for its regional allies,” according to recent comments noted in the brief. The official went on to say that “the situation of the resistance front had improved.”

Other senior Iranian officials have echoed these remarks.

Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who led nuclear negotiations with the United States, recently travelled to Syria and Lebanon to announce Iran’s renewed support for Hezbollah and the embattled regime of President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, according to the brief.

Iran will “continue providing weapons to support the Middle Eastern countries fighting terrorism,” Zarif is quoted as saying by Iran’s state-controlled press.

In light of the nuclear deal, Iran will “preserve its defensive capabilities and send weapons to its regional allies,” according to Zarif, who stressed that “without Iran and the weapons it provided to the countries fighting terrorism, the capital cities of the Middle East would have been occupied by” the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS or ISIL).

Iran also intends to boost its support for fighters in Yemen and Palestinian terrorist groups.

More than 70 members of the Iranian parliament, for instance, recently petitioned President Hassan Rouhani to increase “Iranian support for the regional resistance front after the nuclear agreement,” according to the report.

“They called on the president to use the ministries of defense and foreign affairs to send aid to the Palestinians in accordance with instructions from the Supreme Leader to arm the Palestinians in the West Bank,” the report notes.

Another senior Iranian national security official, Javad Karimi Qoddousi, demanded this month that “all the senior Iranian officials … support aid for the Palestinian people and the resistance front so that the nuclear agreement [is not] exploited to strengthen Israel’s security,” according to the brief.

These remarks have been accompanied by aggressive military moves by Iran, which has conducted multiple war drills in recent weeks and announced the upcoming launch of missiles, a move that could violate current United Nations Security Council resolutions barring such activity.

Iran appears to be attempting “to impress its allies with its commitment to continue supporting them even after the nuclear agreement with the West,” the Meir Amit center concluded in its brief. “The speeches of senior officials also reflected Iran’s approach to the rise and strengthening of ISIS and radical Sunni Islam.”

Iran also has committed itself to preventing the United States from gaining a foothold in the Middle East.

Iran will “not allow the United States to again extend its political influence in the region,” Velayati said in another recent interview. “Middle Eastern countries and people, led by Iran, had awakened and were standing firm” against America.

Senior Hamas officials have also disclosed in recent days that a delegation would soon be visiting Tehran.

Since the nuclear deal was secured, “relations between Hamas and Iran [have been] good,” according to these officials.

What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal

August 11, 2015

What Iran’s hostile reaction to the Parchin issue means for the nuclear deal, Washington Post, David Albright, August 10, 2015

The United States and Congress should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal.

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Chico Marx said: “Who you gonna believe? Me or your own eyes?” Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said over the weekend that my organization, the Institute for Science and International Security, was spreading lies when we published satellite imagery that showed renewed, concerning activity at the Parchin military site near Tehran. This site is linked by Western intelligence and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to past work on nuclear weapons. But like Chico, instead of acknowledging the concern, the Iranians chose to deny the visible evidence in commercial satellite imagery. Iran’s comments would be mirthful if the topic were not so serious.

Zarif is also calling U.S. intelligence officials and members of Congress liars. They are the original source of the information both about renewed activity at Parchin and concerns about that activity. All we did was publish satellite imagery showing this activity and restate the obvious concern.

Moreover, this information about renewed activity at Parchin does not come from opponents of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action negotiated between the United States, five other world powers and Iran, as Zarif suggested. We are neutral on whether the agreement should be implemented and have made that position clear for weeks. The U.S. intelligence community is hardly opposed to the deal. Iran’s attempts to dismiss this concern as the work of the deal’s foes also is just wrong.

Concern about Parchin has become more urgent now that there is a debate raging over whether the IAEA will have adequate access to this site under the terms of its deal with Iran. It would be irresponsible not to worry about reports that suggest that Iran could be again sanitizing the site to thwart environmental sampling that could reveal past nuclear weapons activities there. This concern is further heightened because Iran has demanded to do this sampling itself instead of letting the IAEA do it. Such an arrangement is unprecedented and risky, and will be even more so if Iran continues to sanitize the site. In the cases of the Iranian Kalaye Electric site and the North Korean plutonium separation plant at Yongbyon, the success of sampling that showed undeclared activities depended on samples being taken at non-obvious locations identified during previous IAEA visits inside buildings. The IAEA will not be able to visit Parchin until after the samples are taken, and it remains doubtful that the inspectors will be able to take additional samples.

Some of this can be written off to Zarif’s volatility. At one point during the negotiations, he yelled so loudly at Secretary of State John F. Kerry that those outside the room could hear him. He obviously angers easily. But he is also one of the more reasonable Iranian government officials. I can remember in the late 1990s discussions with Iranian government and nuclear officials in New York where the Iranians vehemently stated, despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary, that they did not have any gas centrifuge programs. I was presenting the evidence that they did, in fact, have a centrifuge program, one in fact aided by Pakistan, and at one of these meetings, Zarif quietly said to me that he had always told me that Iran had the entire fuel cycle — technical language admitting to an enrichment program. His willingness to admit the obvious gave me hope that the crisis over Iran’s program could be solved diplomatically. But on Parchin, his words appear to reflect Iranian government intransigence on its past nuclear weapons program. Its action is an assault on the integrity and prospects of the nuclear deal.

Iran’s reaction shows that it may be drawing a line at Parchin. Resolving the Parchin issue is central to the IAEA’s effort to resolve concerns about Iran’s past work on nuclear weapons by the end of the year, but Parchin is not the only site and activity involved in this crucial issue. The IAEA needs to visit other sites and interview a range of scientists and officials. Instead of allowing this needed access, Iran appears to be continuing its policy of total denial, stating that the concerns are merely Western falsifications and fantasies. The United States recently reasserted that it believes Iran had a nuclear weapons program and stated that it knows a considerable amount about it. So, if Iran sticks to its strategy, one can expect an impasse that includes Iran refusing to allow the IAEA the access it needs to sites and scientists within the coming months.

U.S. officials have stated that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action requires Iran to address concerns about its past work on nuclear weapons prior to the lifting of sanctions. However, Iran may argue otherwise, and one could easily conclude that its recent actions are the start of such a reinterpretation of the agreement. The United States and Congress should clearly and publicly confirm, and Congress should support with legislation, that if Iran does not address the IAEA’s concerns about the past military dimensions of its nuclear programs, U.S. sanctions will not be lifted. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the nuclear deal.