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November 12, 2014 1:37 pm

Will Iran Ever be Held Accountable for its Actions?

avatar by David Ibsen

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The Iran nuclear program's Arak heavy-water reactor. Photo: Nanking2012/Wikimedia Commons.

Last week, concerns about the current nuclear negotiations with Iran were further legitimized by two developments.

The first was the letter sent by President Obama to Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. The letter reportedly raised the possibility of a U.S.-Iran alliance against the Islamic State (ISIS) on the condition that Iran reaches a settlement with the P5+1 on its illicit nuclear program. This is a naïve and shortsighted suggestion that also contradicts previous statements by the Obama Administration rejecting any “trading of aspects of Iran’s nuclear program to secure commitments to take on ISIL.”

The suggestion that Iran could be a potential security partner is ludicrous in light of Iran’s strident anti-Americanism and ongoing encouragement of sectarianism and extremism in the region. Iran has worked to stoke the sectarian divide and destabilize Iraq. Iran and its proxy Hezbollah have further worked to support the brutal Bashar Al-Assad regime and undermine moderate opposition fighters in Syria.

One can only hope that President Obama used a portion of his letter to urge the Supreme Leader to cease support for the brutal sectarian militias and proxies that have divided and alienated large swathes of the populations in Iraq and Syria, and commit to the establishment of secure, inclusive, and stable governments across the region. The audacity of hope indeed.

The second development was the release of a new report from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stating that Iran is again stonewalling the Agency by failing to provide clarifications and explanations of its past nuclear weapons work.

The issue of ongoing Iranian intransigence memorialized in the IAEA report is compounded by the numerous additional outstanding concerns regarding Iran’s ballistic missile program, illicit procurement networks, possible undisclosed nuclear facilities, and, of course, the size and scope of its enrichment program.

Perhaps rather than seeking reconciliation via direct communications with the hardline and pathologically anti-American Supreme Leader, the U.S. should be focusing its efforts to ensure that Iran addresses the fundamental and long-standing concerns of the international community regarding the danger of its nuclear program.

The myth of Iranian regime moderation has been resoundingly and repeatedly refuted by Tehran’s actions at home and abroad since the election of Hassan Rouhani.

Clearly, the best way to ensure regional stability is to curb Iran’s adverse influence in the region. This will not be accomplished by naively pushing for reconciliation with Iran or by turning a blind eye to Iran’s continued stonewalling of international nuclear inspectors, sponsorship of terrorism, and support for the brutal regime of Bashar al-Assad. That is the purpose behind UANI’s new petition to the UN Representative of Iran.

Discussions (or personal correspondence for that matter) that fail to hold Iran accountable for its continued defiance of the international community regarding its nuclear program or its violent, sectarian, and extremist misdeeds will not ‘ensure peace in our time’ – rather it will only further inflame regional conflict.

“‹David Ibsen is Executive Director of the bi-partisan advocacy group, United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI).

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