Posted tagged ‘Zarif’

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

December 11, 2015

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani’s Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA, MEMRI, A. Savyon and Y. Carmon*, December 11, 2015

Introduction

In advance of the February 2016 elections in Iran for both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts, and in light of Hashemi Rafsanjani’s November 25, 2015 announcement that he will run for the Assembly of Experts, the power struggle between the pragmatic camp, which Rafsanjani leads, and the ideological camp, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has intensified. It now centers on two main focal points:

  1. Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. After Khamenei halted the implementation of the JCPOA in his October 21, 2015 letter to Iranian President Hassan Rohani,[1] all the representatives of the regime announced their support for Khamenei’s instructions; even President Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were compelled to do so. The only one to speak out against this was Rafsanjani, who called on the regime to carry out its obligations under the JCPOA.[2]
  2. The Iranian regime’s circling the wagons against both the “American enemy” and against the “new fitna” within Iran – that is, the Rafsanjani camp which is calling for openness vis-à-vis the U.S. and for Iran to implement the JCPOA.[3] The regime activity against the U.S. and the “new fitna” gives the ideological camp leverage over the pragmatic camp. The ideological camp is playing this up in advance of the elections and hinting that the outcome of the last presidential election, in 2013, was a grave failure that must not be allowed to happen again. The Khamenei-affiliated daily Kayhan is even preparing for the possibility that Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp will again triumph in the elections, and stated that such a development would be counter to the Islamic Revolution and its values, and must be prevented.

This first report in a two-part series on the aspects of this power struggle will focus on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s blocking of Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA. The forthcoming report will focus on the Iranian regime’s promotion of its anti-U.S. stance and its stance against the “new fitna” within Iran.

MEMRI has published nearly two dozen reports on the power struggle between the Khamenei and Rafsanjani camps.   

Khamenei Blocks Iran’s Implementation Of The JCPOA

On October 21, 2015, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued nine conditions countermanding the original language of the JCPOA as it was presented on July 14, 2015.[4] All regime officials, including pragmatic camp members such as President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, immediately announced their acceptance of Khamenei’s new conditions – except for Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the only one to speak out against Khamenei and called on Iran to implement its obligations under the JCPOA.[5]

Elements connected to the negotiating team and the Rafsanjani camp, among them Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi and Expediency Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, attempted to create the impression of first steps to implement the JCPOA by transferring older-generation centrifuges that were already inactive from one site to another.

However, they were stopped immediately by Majlis members and others from the ideological camp.[6]Negotiating team members from Rafsanjani’s pragmatic camp were forced to state that thus far, no active centrifuges had been dismantled. On November 25, 2015, nuclear negotiating team member and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian TV of the measures Iran had taken to meet its JCPOA commitments, saying that “none of Iran’s steps on this matter so far contradict the Leader’s letter… As far as I know, we are still in the phase of dismantling the inactive centrifuges.”[7]

On November 14, 2015, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian Channel 3 TV: “The centrifuges that were dismantled were not active and did not enrich uranium… Now, we are dealing with the dismantling of centrifuges, and we began this two weeks ago, according to the orders from the Office of the President that we have undertaken and to the timetable. At Fordo, there are a few centrifuges, that is, 1,000-2,000; at the last minute, we will collect some 1,000 centrifuges from Fordo. So far, no centrifuges from Fordo have been dismantled; we have merely prepared the ground for dismantling [centrifuges]. What has been dismantled so far were inactive centrifuges at Natanz.”[8]

On November 3, 2015, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: “We will advance the work in a way that will be in accordance with the principles and guidelines of the Leader… Not a single centrifuge has been dismantled yet; at this point, we are at the preparatory stage.”[9] Several days later, he said that Iran would begin to dismantle active centrifuges immediately after the Iranian PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier is closed by the IAEA Board of Governors,[10] explaining: “Now we are dismantling the inactive centrifuges; there are more of them than there are active centrifuges.” He noted that there are now only about 3,000 active  centrifuges and about 10,000 that have not been active for several years, and added: “The [active] centrifuges will be dismantled at the same time as [Iran carries out the steps to which it is obligated under the JCPOA at] the Arak reactor and as our enriched uranium is replaced with yellowcake.[11]

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif: The Superpowers Must Meet All Their Obligations Before Iran Implements Its Own

At a November 29, 2015 joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif stated that Iran’s implementation of the JCPOA could begin only after the IAEA Board of Governors closes Iran’s PMD dossier.[12] He then added a completely new demand: that the P5+1 carry out at least some of its obligations under the JCPOA even before Iran carries out its own. Zarif added that the Iranians were currently conducting talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American officials on this matter.

Iran’s presentation of this demand is an essential violation of the language of the agreed version of the JCPOA, which states that Iran must first implement its part in order to reach Implementation Day, and that only then, and concurrently with IAEA verification that Iran has indeed met its obligations, will the P5+1 begin carrying out its obligations with regard to the sanctions.

The following are the main points of Zarif’s statements:

Asked what progress has been made with regard to Khamenei’s demand, in his letter to President Rohani, for a direct letter from Europe and the U.S. to Iran on the issue of the removal of the sanctions, he replied: “Europe and the U.S. are obligated to remove the sanctions the day the JCPOA is implemented – that is, the U.S. must carry out steps on the day of the decision – i.e. [by Implementation Day] the U.S. and the E.U. must carry out these steps in certain ways.

“The process of implementation by the oversight team has already begun. This does not mean that the action taken by the U.S. and the E.U., and which should yield results by Implementation Day, are sufficient. We believe that the U.S. must continue to implement steps until Implementation Day. The U.S. president has ordered the energy secretary, secretary of state, and commerce secretary to carry out their obligations, and that they take all steps necessary to implement the U.S.’s obligations. The President of the United States ordered them to carry out their obligations and that prior to Implementation Day [of the JCPOA] these obligations must be implemented. On this matter, we are holding talks with the American secretary of state and other American elements [emphasis added].”[13]

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[2] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015.

[3] This fitna and its members were described clearly by Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy committee member Ahmad Bakhshayesh: “The Leader speaks of [American] infiltration and warns the officials. The Leader’s [warning] was addressed mainly to elements of the regime wishing to create ties with the U.S…. In our country there are two lines of thought: One is resistance to the arrogance [meaning the U.S.], championed by the Leader; and the second is ties with the U.S. like with any other country without fear of infiltration, which is championed by Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rohani.” Fars (Iran), November 15, 2015.

[4] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[5] For Rafsanjani’s statements, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Report No. 1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015. For Iran’s commitments, as outlined by the Arms Control Association, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 65, MEMRI: ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’, October 30, 2015.

[6] See, for example, the statement by Alizera Zakani, head of the Majlis special committee to examine the JCPOA, who said that reducing the number of centrifuges at nuclear sites violated the first condition of Khamenei’s letter. According to him, this improper step triggered a warning, and subsequently the action was halted, at least at Fordo. Mehr (Iran), November 8, 2015.

[7] ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[8] IRNA (Iran), November 14, 2015.

[9] ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015.

[10] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[11] Kayhan (Iran), November 11, 2015.

[12] See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano’s Report On The PMD Of Iran’s Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA’s PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[13] ISNA (Iran), November 29, 2015.

Obama blinked, Iran didn’t

April 3, 2015

Obama blinked, Iran didn’t, Legal Insurrection, April 3, 2015

Iran celebrates

Well that “Framework” negotiation was fun.

For the Iranians, who got a great deal at least as far as a Framework goes.

As this WaPo editorial points out, the Obama administration gave up on key parameters:

THE “KEY parameters” for an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program released Thursday fall well short of the goals originally set by the Obama administration. None of Iran’s nuclear facilities — including the Fordow center buried under a mountain — will be closed. Not one of the country’s 19,000 centrifuges will be dismantled. Tehran’s existing stockpile of enriched uranium will be “reduced” but not necessarily shipped out of the country. In effect, Iran’s nuclear infrastructure will remain intact, though some of it will be mothballed for 10 years. When the accord lapses, the Islamic republic will instantly become a threshold nuclear state.

That’s a long way from the standard set by President Obama in 2012 when he declared that “the deal we’ll accept” with Iran “is that they end their nuclear program” and “abide by the U.N. resolutions that have been in place.” Those resolutions call for Iran to suspend the enrichment of uranium. Instead, under the agreement announced Thursday, enrichment will continue with 5,000 centrifuges for a decade, and all restraints on it will end in 15 years.

In his speech after the announcement, Obama took care not only to repeat the false rhetorical device of the only choice being between this deal and war, he blamed that choice on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. David Horvitz at The Times of Israel writes, Defeatist Obama’s deal with the devil:

Extolling the virtues of his deal with Iran on Thursday, President Barack Obama made a false and extremely nasty assertion: “It’s no secret,” he claimed, incorrectly, “that the Israeli prime minister and I don’t agree about whether the United States should move forward with a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.”

It is indeed no secret that Obama and Netanyahu don’t agree on how to thwart Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions. It is emphatically not the case, however, that Israel’s prime minister opposes “a peaceful resolution to the Iranian issue.” It is emphatically not the case, despite Obama’s insinuation, that Israel’s leader regards military intervention as the only means to thwart Iran.

Netanyahu has not been saying no to diplomacy. His endlessly stated contention is not that war is the only alternative to the deal so delightedly hailed by Obama as “the most effective way to ensure Iran doesn’t get a nuclear weapon.” Rather, in Netanyahu’s insistent opinion, what is needed is simply a different, far more potent deal.

 

Why throw Netanyahu under the bus again? There are plenty of people, including Democrats in Congress, who don’t view this deal as the only non-war choice.

Netanyahu issued the following statement after the announcement of the Framework deal:

Statement by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
April 3, 2015

I just came from a meeting of the Israeli cabinet. We discussed the proposed framework for a deal with Iran.

The cabinet is united in strongly opposing the proposed deal.
This deal would pose a grave danger to the region and to the world and would threaten the very survival of the State of Israel.

The deal would not shut down a single nuclear facility in Iran, would not destroy a single centrifuge in Iran and will not stop R&D on Iran’s advanced centrifuges.

On the contrary. The deal would legitimize Iran’s illegal nuclear program. It would leave Iran with a vast nuclear infrastructure. A vast nuclear infrastructure remains in place.

The deal would lift sanctions almost immediately and this at the very time that Iran is stepping up its aggression and terror in the region and beyond the region.

In a few years, the deal would remove the restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program, enabling Iran to have a massive enrichment capacity that it could use to produce many nuclear bombs within a matter of months.

The deal would greatly bolster Iran’s economy. It would give Iran thereby tremendous means to propel its aggression and terrorism throughout the Middle East.

Such a deal does not block Iran’s path to the bomb.

Such a deal paves Iran’s path to the bomb.

And it might very well spark a nuclear arms race throughout the Middle East and it would greatly increase the risks of terrible war.

Now, some say that the only alternative to this bad deal is war.

That’s not true.

There is a third alternative – standing firm, increasing the pressure on Iran until a good deal is achieved.

And finally let me say one more thing.

Iran is a regime that openly calls for Israel’s destruction and openly and actively works towards that end.

Just two days ago, in the midst of the negotiations in Lausanne, the commander of the Basij security forces in Iran said this: “The destruction of Israel is non-negotiable.”

Well, I want to make clear to all. The survival of Israel is non-negotiable.

Israel will not accept an agreement which allows a country that vows to annihilate us to develop nuclear weapons, period.

In addition, Israel demands that any final agreement with Iran will include a clear and unambiguous Iranian recognition of Israel’s right to exist.

Thank you.

Meanwhile, the Mullah regime crowed at how they got what they wanted (see also tweets in yesterday’s post):

Twitter-Rhouani-Iran-Deal-Centrifuges-spin
Twitter-Bill-Hemmer-Rhouani-Iran-Deal-Enrichment
Twitter-Fars-News-Agency-Iran-Deal-Rouhani

Seems to me the Mullahs know something we don’t.

And Iranians took to the streets to celebrate:

 

There was a better deal to be had. The sanctions were hurting. Obama blinked, the Iranians didn’t.