With less than three weeks to go before the P5+1 countries are slated to finalize the framework for a nuclear deal with Iran, an examination of where things stand today is in order.
The good news is that the regime in Tehran, ruled by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, is not likely to sign the agreement it ostensibly reached with the U.S., the U.K., France, Russia, China and Germany on April 2 in Lausanne.
The bad news is that U.S. President Barack Obama would rather risk having a mushroom cloud explode over the Middle East than let his fantasy of a diplomatic solution to global jihad go up in smoke.
None of this comes as a surprise. Obama’s dream of achieving a nuclear deal with the Islamic republic has been almost as great as his obsession with forcing Israel to establish a Palestinian state. And in each case, the fact that the realities on the ground make it impossible is of no consequence to him.
Indeed, mere hours after the framework agreement was announced, Iran accused its negotiating partners of lying about the clauses of the document. A report released on Thursday by the Middle East Media Research Institute explains how this happened.
According to the report, two conflicting versions of the events leading up to the signing of the agreement have emerged, both of which indicate that Khamenei put his foot down regarding anything that would hinder the building of atom bombs.
The first version is that of Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister and head negotiator Abbas Araqchi. In an Iranian TV interview on May 25, he revealed that his team initially had agreed to the U.S. demand for “token inspections” of the nuclear facilities, but later had to renege, when Khamenei completely rejected the idea.
This disclosure on Araqchi’s part caused a major stir, but not in Washington. No, its impact was felt in Iran. There it led to attacks on the negotiating team and the “pragmatic camp” — those who, like the camp’s leader Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, believe in using negotiations with the West as a more effective strategy in obtaining nuclear weapons.
The second version of events resulted from the above.
Trying to minimize the damage Araqchi’s interview had done, another negotiator, Hamid Baidinejad, altered the story somewhat. He said that the Iranian team had, in fact, rejected the U.S. demands, including for token inspections, but were urged by American negotiators to go back and ask Khamenei if he might consider them anyway. At that point, in Baidinejad’s account, Khamenei said no.
The White House, on the other hand, has said nothing.
Nor has it responded to a press conference held on Thursday by Reza Najafi, Iran’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency, who also deflected questions of nuclear transparency, U.N. inspections and uranium enrichment.
“These are the issues still under discussion and I believe we should wait to see the final text,” he said. “Before that, we cannot prejudge anything.”
Nor have we heard a response from Obama to two speeches delivered this week by Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy Commander Rear Adm. Ali Fadavi, in which he boasted of Iran’s military capabilities against U.S. warships in the Persian Gulf.
“The Americans have realized today that if they embark on war they will sustain defeat, given the Islamic Revolution’s capabilities,” he said on Wednesday.
“Every day, we are witnessing the growing power of the Islamic Republic of Iran’s establishment,” he said on Thursday, stressing the growing “passivity and weakness” of Iran’s enemies, in contrast to the “bravery of the Islamic republic’s martyrs.”
Though the U.S. administration remains silent, not everyone is keeping his mouth shut about the dangerous deal on the table. On Wednesday, retired U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, who served as the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, testified before the Joint Foreign Affairs and House Armed Services Committee in Washington.
Here are a number of excerpts from his lengthy testimony:
- “Specifically focusing on the expanding Iranian missile development program, and failing to acknowledge the frequent warnings from our intelligence community … regarding the hegemonic behaviors of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Iran’s missile program is growing far stronger.”
- “Washington cannot consider alternatives to our current foreign policy or grand strategy, because anyone who proposes one is immediately exiled from the establishment.”
- “Iran has every intention to build a nuclear weapon. They have stated it many times; they have attempted well over a decade to move rapidly to nuclearizing their capability; and their enrichment to 20% and their rapid move to develop a ballistic missile program are examples of their continued preparedness to weaponize a missile for nuclear delivery.”
- “Iran’s stated desire to destroy Israel is very real.”
- “Iran’s leaders made it clear the furthest they will go is to allow international inspectors (IAEA) only ‘managed access’ to nuclear facilities, and only with significant prior notification. This makes it nearly impossible, as a matter of full transparency, to have real ‘eyes on’ the state of Iranian nuclear development to include their missile program.”
- “The notion of ‘snap back’ sanctions is fiction. The Iranian regime is already more economically stable than it was in November of 2013, while the international sanctions coalition that brought Tehran to the table in the first place is showing serious signs of strain. It’s unreasonable to believe that under these conditions we will be able to put the ‘Regime Sanctions Team’ back together again.”
As the June 30 target date for sealing a deal approaches, nuclear talks between Iran and the P5+1 have been going on feverishly since last week, and are due to resume on Tuesday. It is hard to believe that any points of contention will dissolve, since they are the meat of the whole discussion: Iran aims to acquire nuclear weapons without the burden of sanctions, and its “peace partners” imagine they are engaged in negotiations for the purpose of prevention.
During Obama’s address last month at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, D.C., he said, “This deal [with Iran] will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise.”
Heaven help us all if it delivers on his dream.
Ruthie Blum is the web editor of Voice of Israel talk radio (voiceofisrael.com). This article was originally published by Israel Hayom.