Iran’s Foreign Ministry has condemned the US administration’s new round of sanctions against Iranian individuals and firms, saying they contravene an interim accord reached last year between Iran and six powers.
“The move is in complete contrast with the current process of resolution of [Iran’s] nuclear issue,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said on Saturday.
On Friday, the US imposed sanctions on over 25 Iranian individuals and companies, including shipping firms, oil companies, airlines and six banks.
“The Islamic Republic of Iran rejects any one-sided and unacceptable interpretations of the Geneva [nuclear] deal by the US and strongly believes that the imposed sanctions are against the US commitments in the deal,” Afkham said.
She noted that the sanctions will have “negative and unconstructive impacts” on the process of the nuclear talks between Iran and the six powers, saying, the recent sanctions will question the “seriousness, honesty and goodwill” of Washington and other negotiating states.
The spokeswoman stated that the new US sanctions cast doubt on the negotiating parties’ “commitment to a possible final deal” that requires the lifting of all “illegal and illegitimate” sanctions against Tehran.
“While the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken confidence-building steps in compliance with its commitment to the deal…and it has been reflected in numerous reports issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Tehran expects reciprocal actions from the US and other member states of the P5+1,” Afkham added.
Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – Russia, China, France, Britain and the US — plus Germany are in talks to reach a final agreement aimed at resolving the standoff over Tehran’s civilian nuclear work.
The two sides signed a historic interim deal in Geneva last November. The agreement entered into force on January 20 and expired six months later. In July, Tehran and the six states agreed to extend their discussions until November 24 in a bid to work out a final accord.
“Israel has drawn up plans for a combined air and ground attack on Iranian nuclear installations if diplomacy fails to halt Tehran’s atomic program…” – Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005
After insisting it is “time to cut off every dime of American money going to anyone who has any kind of relationship with Hamas or those killing in the Middle East, and especially in Israel,” Gohmert added, “It is time to bomb Iran’s nuclear capabilities. It is time for the United States, if we are not going to stop Iran’s nukes, then let Israel do it. A friend will not put another friend in this kind of jeopardy.”
Never mind that Iran has no “nukes” for anyone to “stop,” since it’s not actually making any and never has made or acquired any. Never mind that Iran has been consistently complying with the prescriptions of the multilateral deal agreed to last November by Iran and six world powers. Never mind that a number of recent articles in widely-read media outlets have addressed the myriad falsehoods and myths responsible for the past three decades of fear-mongering and propaganda about Iran’s civilian nuclear program.
Still, the persistent false narrative that military strikes by either the United States or Israel may follow any potential failure to reach a deal continues to be repeated in the press. Of course, the fact that any such attack would be unequivocally illegal under international law is rarely noted in these assessments.
Pronouncements that Iran is close to having a nuclear bomb, or close to being bombed, are ubiquitous in the media. Threats against Iran – by both the United States and Israel – have been made for decades, despite routine Iranian dismissal of such rhetoric as mere bluster.
Not only is an American or Israeli attack on Iran always just around the bend – regardless of the state of diplomacy or intelligence assessments – but the media consistently provides fantasy scenarios by which its audience can imagine, replete with maps and graphics, just how such war crimes would take place.
Over twenty years ago, a report in the Independent (UK) published on June 23, 1994 revealed that the Pentagon had inked a deal to provide Israel with advanced F-15I fighter jets, designed to “enable the Israelis to carry out strikes deep into Iraq and Iran without refuelling.”
Three years later, on December 9, 1997, a The Times of London headline screamed, “Israel steps up plans for air attacks on Iran.” The article, written by Christopher Walker, reported on the myriad “options” Israel had in confronting what it deemed “Iran’s Russian-backed missile and nuclear weapon programme.”
Such reports have been published ever since. Of course, neither the United States nor Israel will attack Iran, regardless of the success or failure of negotiations, but such reports (often the result of strategically timed “leaks” by anonymous government officials) serve to not only intentionally torpedo diplomacy but also mislead the public into believing the absurdly false narrative surrounding the Iranian nuclear program; that is, either Iran must be bombed or it will acquire a nuclear arsenal. This is nonsense.
Below are some of the constant headlines we’ve seen over the past dozen years promoting such propaganda. When will this madness – this pathological obsession with the false necessity of dropping bombs and the righteous inevitability of killing people – stop?
The Times of London, November 5, 2002:
AFP, October 11, 2003:
The Scotsman, November 22, 2003:
New York Daily News, November 23, 2003:
The New York Times, August 21, 2004:
Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2004:
The Jerusalem Post, January 21, 2005:
The Independent, January 27, 2005:
Toledo Blade, March 14, 2005:
Associated Press, December 4, 2005:
The Straits Times, December 17, 2005:
Associated Press, January 22, 2006:
Fox News, June 4, 2006:
The Telegraph, February 24, 2007:
Associated Press, March 21, 2007:
Newsweek, December 19, 2007:
The Daily Star (Lebanon), May 30, 2008:
USA Today, June 6, 2008:
The Telegraph, June 7, 2008:
The Age, June 9, 2008:
Fox News, June 20, 2008:
The Telegraph, June 23, 2008:
ABC News, July 1, 2008:
Ha’aretz, July 2, 2008:
AFP, July 30, 2008:
Associated Press, August 7, 2008:
CBS News, August 7, 2008:
Wired, April 2, 2009:
Salon, April 14, 2009:
The Times of London, April 18, 2009:
The Wall Street Journal, June 12, 2009:
The Washington Post, July 2, 2009:
CBS News, July 27, 2009:
Los Angeles Times, August 30, 2009:
Talking Points Memo, August 31, 2009:
Fox News, September 21, 2009:
Huffington Post, September 28, 2009:
Ynet, October 9, 2009:
The Washington Times, October 22, 2009:
Ha’aretz, November 6, 2009:
The New York Times, December 23, 2009:
Newsmax, April 2, 2010:
The Wall Street Journal, April 21, 2010:
AFP, June 12, 2010:
TIME, July 15, 2010:
The Weekly Standard, July 26, 2010:
Christian Science Monitor, August 12, 2010:
The Spectator (UK), August 12, 2010:
Christian Science Monitor, August 13, 2010:
The Weekly Standard, August 14, 2010:
The Week, August 17, 2010:
New York Daily News, August 17, 2010:
The Atlantic, August 18, 2010:
Newsmax, September 2, 2010:
The Atlantic, November 28, 2010:
AFP, November 29, 2010:
The Australian, November 30, 2010:
The Washington Times, December 3, 2010:
The Australian, January 13, 2011:
Associated Press, May 30, 2011:
Ha’aretz, September 28, 2011:
Associated Press, November 2, 2011:
The Daily Beast, November 2, 2011:
The Guardian, November 2, 2011:
The Telegraph, November 6, 2011:
Reuters, November 9, 2011:
Arutz Sheva, November 10, 2011:
Chicago Tribune, November 13, 2011:
Arutz Sheva, December 1, 2011:
The New York Times, January 25, 2012:
Foreign Affairs, January/February 2012:
The Washington Post, February 2, 2012:
Reuters, February 3, 2012:
Foreign Affairs, February 23, 2012:
Congressional Research Service, March 27, 2012:
CNN, March 30, 2012:
Salon/GlobalPost, May 9, 2012:
The Telegraph, May 17, 2012:
CBN News, May 24, 2012:
The Blaze, July 8, 2012:
Reuters, August 10, 2012:
The Times of Israel, August 11, 2012:
The Daily Mail, August 21, 2012:
The Jewish Chronicle, August 27, 2012:
Forbes, September 30, 2012:
National Journal, October 9, 2012:
The Telegraph, October 9, 2012:
Voice of America, December 19, 2012:
The New York Times, January 26, 2013:
The Times of Israel, March 14, 2013:
Newsmax, April 13, 2013:
The Wall Street Journal, May 2, 2013:
Ha’aretz, May 3, 2013:
The Times of Israel, May 9, 2013:
Al Jazeera English, July 17, 2013:
The Atlantic, August 1, 2013:
Washington Examiner, September 18, 2013:
Gatestone Institute, October 7, 2013:
Financial Times, November 17, 2013:
CNN, November 19, 2013:
The Times of London, November 26, 2013:
Defense News, December 4, 2013:
CBS News, December 6, 2013:
ThinkProgress, January 2, 2014:
Foreign Affairs, January 7, 2014:
Ha’aretz, March 19, 2014:
Associated Press, March 21, 2014:
The National Interest, April 16, 2014:
Iran Times, May 16, 2014:
Defense News, June 8, 2014:
Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA), June 12, 2014:
The Raw Story, July 23, 2014:
And the United States Government is Helping
There is a group of Jewish American billionaires who are apparently doing their best to make sure that negotiations with Iran go nowhere in the mistaken belief that they are doing what is best for Israel. And they would also appear to be assisted in their efforts by the White House, which is at the same time claiming that it wants the talks to be successful. The odd relationship is currently playing out in a Manhattan courtroom where the Justice Department is seeking to quash a lawsuit that it fears might expose the extent to which the government has hypocritically played fast and loose with classified information while simultaneously sending journalists and whistleblowers to jail over allegations that they have done the same.
The power and wealth of the anti-Iran groups as well as their unrivaled access to the United States government means that a policy of détente with Iran, which would be a no brainer based on both American and Iranian interests, only proceeds by fits and starts with the US Congress and much of the media lined up solidly to stop the effort. The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and its affiliated educational foundation, which have focused on the “Iranian threat” over the past three years, have a combined budget of more than $90 million while AIPAC’s spin-off the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) has $8.7 million.
The American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI) efforts are more diversified but uniformly hawkish when it comes to the Middle East. It has a budget of $45 million. Identified multi-million dollar donor/supporters of AIPAC, AEI, and WINEP include Sheldon Adelson of Las Vegas Sands, Paul Singer of Elliot Management hedge fund and Bernard Marcus of Home Depot.
Other right wing think tanks including Heritage and Hudson in Washington also support unrelenting pressure directed against Iran. Even the more centrist Brookings Institute is hard core when it comes to Middle Eastern politics by virtue of its Saban Institute funded by Israeli-American billionaire Haim Saban. And then there are the mainstream Jewish organizations to include the Anti Defamation League, the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations and the American Jewish Congress, all of which have vast resources and unparalleled access to the White House, Congress and the media.
All the pro-Israel anti-Iran groups engage in pressure tactics on Capitol Hill and have been effective in dominating the political debate. Of thirty-six outside witnesses brought in to testify at seven Senate hearings on Iran since 2012 only one might be characterized as sensitive to Iranian concerns. The enormous lobbying effort enables the anti-Iran groups to define the actual policies, move their drafts of legislation through congress, and eventually see their bills pass with overwhelming majorities in both the House and Senate. It is democracy in action if one accepts that popular rule ought to be guided by money and pressure groups rather than by national interests.
Less well known is United Against Nuclear Iran, which has a budget just shy of $2 million. UANI is involved in the New York lawsuit. The group, which has somehow obtained a 501[c]3 “educational” tax status that inter alia allows it to conceal its donors, has offices in Rockefeller Center in New York City. It is active on Capitol Hill providing “expert testimony” on Iran for congressional committees, to include “help” in drafting legislation. At a July Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Iran all three outside witnesses were from UANI. It is also active in the media but is perhaps best known for its “name and shame” initiatives in which it exposes companies that it claims are doing business with Tehran in violation of US sanctions.
UANI is being sued by a Greek billionaire Victor Restis whom it had outed in 2013. Restis, claiming the exposure was fraudulent and carried out to damage his business, has filed suit demanding that UANI and billionaire Thomas Kaplan turn over documents and details of relationships regarding UANI donors who it is claimed are linked to the case. Kaplan, a New York City resident, made his initial fortune on energy exploration and development. More recently he has been involved in commodities trading in precious metals. His wife Daphne is Israeli and his involvement in various Jewish philanthropies both in the US and in Israel have invited comparison with controversial deceased commodities trader Marc Rich, who reportedly worked closely with the Israeli government on a number of projects.
The Justice department would like to the see the UANI lawsuit go away as it is aware that what is being described as “law enforcement” documents would include both privileged and classified Treasury Department work product relating to individuals and companies that it has investigated for sanctions busting. Passing either intelligence related or law enforcement documents to a private organization is illegal but the Justice Department’s only apparent concern is that the activity might be exposed. There is no indication that it would go after UANI for having acquired the information and it perhaps should be presumed that the source of the leak is the Treasury Department itself.
Who or what provided the documents to a private advocacy group that is also a tax exempt foundation supported by prominent businessmen with interests in the Middle East is consequently not completely clear but Restis is assuming that the truth will out if he can get hold of the evidence. The lawsuit claims that UANI intimidates its targets by defaming their business practices as well as by demanding both examination of their books and an audit carried out by one of its own accountants followed by review from an “independent counsel.”
Kaplan is named in the suit as he appears to be the gray eminence behind UANI. He once boasted “we’ve (UANI) done more to bring Iran to heel than any other private sector initiative.” Kaplan also employs as a director or officer in six of his companies the Executive Director of UANI Mark Wallace and reportedly arranged the awarding of the Executive Director position at Harvard’s Belfer Center to its President Gary Samore.
Kaplan is a business competitor to Restis, whose lawyers are apparently seeking to demonstrate two things: first, that the US government has been feeding sometimes only partially vetted information to UANI to help in its “name and shame” program and second, that UANI is itself supported by partisan business interests like Kaplan as well as by foreign sources, which apparently is meant to imply Israel. Or even the Israeli intelligence service Mossad. Meir Dagan, former head of Mossad, is on the UANI advisory board, which also includes ex-Senator Joseph Lieberman and former Senior Diplomat Dennis Ross, both of whom have frequently been accused of favoring Israeli interests and both of whom might well have easy access to US government generated information.
And then there is the Muhadedin-e-Khalq, the Iranian terrorist group that has assassinated at least six Americans and is now assisting the Israeli government in killing Iranian scientists, a prima facie definition of what constitutes terrorism. The group was on the State Department terrorist list from 1997 until 2012, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton de-listed it in response to demands coming from friends of Israel in Congress as well as from a large group of ex government officials, many of whom were paid large honoraria by the group to serve as advocates. The paid American shills included former CIA Directors James Woolsey and Porter Goss, New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean, former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Louis Freeh and former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. The promoters of MEK in congress and elsewhere claimed to be primarily motivated by MEK’s being an enemy of the current regime in Tehran, though its virulent anti-Americanism and terrorist history make it a somewhat unlikely poster child for the “Iranian resistance.”
Supporters of MEK also ignore the fact that the group is run like a cult, routinely executes internal dissidents, and has virtually no political support within Iran. But such are the ways of the corrupt Washington punditocracy, lionizing an organization that it should be shunning. MEK’s political arm is located in Paris and it has long been assumed that it is funded by the Israeli government and by at least some of the same gaggle of billionaires, possibly including their Israeli counterparts, who support the anti-Iranian agenda in the United States.
Iranian negotiators have accepted that their country should have only limited uranium enrichment capabilities coupled with a rigorous inspection regime but the talks in Geneva drag on and on as the United States continues to hesitate, raising new objections regularly in spite of claims that it operates in good faith and seeks a settlement. That an agreement is within reach is undoubtedly true and it would even be good for Israel as it would remove the regional nuclear option while making much less likely another pointless and devastating war. But the men who write the checks do not see it that way and, unfortunately, they are the ones who all too often both pay the piper and call the tune.
Tehran will “accelerate” arming Palestinians in the occupied West Bank in retaliation for Israel deploying a spy drone over Iran, which was shot down, a military commander said on Monday.
“We will accelerate the arming of the West Bank and we reserve the right to give any response,” said General Amir-Ali Hajizadeh, commander of aerial forces of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards, in a statement on their official website sepahnews.com.
The warning comes a day after the Guards said they had brought down an Israeli stealth drone above the Natanz uranium enrichment site in the centre of the country.
“A spy drone of the Zionist regime (Israel) was brought down by a missile… This stealth drone was trying to approach the Natanz nuclear zone,” the corps said in a statement on sepahnews.com.
Stop Him Before He Kills Again!
“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.”
– George W. Bush
Those in the U.S. who are enthralled by relentless reports of the most demonic acts attributed to President Vladimir Putin and the rebel Eastern Ukrainian federalists a in the New York Times, NPR, ETC. would do well to look at the track record of the “reporters” dishing out this stuff. What they will find is a trail of deception that is piled with corpses of hundreds of thousands of innocents.
Principle among the purveyors of these bloodletting falsehoods is Michael R. Gordon, chief military correspondent for the NYT, serving over the decades as a trusty pipeline from the Pentagon to you. Although his name should be in profound disrepute, many opposed to war are unaware of his ignoble career or may have forgotten it. Most notoriously he is the co-author with Judith Miller of the front page NYT article planted by Dick Cheney’s minions, which claimed that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), relying on the idea that aluminum tubing being purchased by Iraq was to be used for purifying uranium.
Here is a quick reminder of that sorry episode so typical for the NYT. That article, entitled “Threats and Responses: The Iraqis; U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest For A-Bomb Parts,” ran on page one of the NYT on Sunday, September 8, 2002. That same day, with the newsprint barely dry, Cheney popped up on Meet the Press citing the piece and claiming that Saddam Hussein was on his way to making nukes. Appearances on the other Sunday propaganda shows were made that same day by Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Meyers (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff) and Condoleeza Rice who employed the infamous phrase used by Miller and Gordon, declaring with a straight face, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.” On October 11, 2002, with an election staring it in the face, the Congress voted authorization for Bush to go to war. (That Constitutional requirement was unceremoniously dropped when Obama decided to make war on Libya. At least Bush took the time to lie to Congress.) As we know all too well now, the entire aluminum tube story was a lie, as was obvious at the time to anyone who read the article with the slightest care and as the Department of Energy and Department of State knew well at the time, as was later disclosed.
But unlike Judith Miller the well connected Gordon escaped punishment for these criminal fictions. And so he went on to peddle ever more lies on Iraq, being the first “journalist” to be embedded with U.S. forces of aggression and later championing the “surge” of his buddy, that great military strategist and legendary lover, David Petraeus. That bit of his career was documented in considerable detail in 2007 by the late Alex Cockburn. Cockburn summed it up thus:
“Gordon managed to dodge the fall-out from the WMD debacle he played a major part in contriving. For example, he co-wrote with Miller the infamous aluminum tubes-for-nukes story of September 8, 2002, that mightily assisted the administration in its push to war. In the latter part of 2006 he became the prime journalistic agitator for escalation in troop strength.
“On September 11, 2006, the Times ran a Gordon story under the headline, ‘Grim Outlook Seen in West Iraq Without More Troops and Aid’. Gordon cited a senior officer in Iraq saying more American troops were necessary to stabilize Anbar. A story on October 22 emphasized that “the sectarian violence [in Baghdad] would be far worse if not for the American efforts” There were of course plenty of Iraqis and some Americans Gordon could also have found, eager to say the exact opposite.”
The next year, 2007, Gordon went on to join the journalistic chorus in its effort to finger Iran as the source of new, more lethal roadside bombs used in Iraq which were called EFP’s (Explosively Formed Penetrators). This was another piece of Cheney propaganda designed to help satisfy his itch to launch a war on Iran. It was quickly exposed by another Cockburn, Andrew, Scott Horton and others. Fortunately this fiction thus exposed passed on quickly.
The point is that Gordon’s career has been not that of a reporter but a propagandist preparing us to accept the next moves of the U.S. Empire. So what is the intrepid Gordon up to these days? Unsurprisingly he is on the job covering the crisis in the Ukraine. He and the rest of the NYT are frantically peddling the wildest of lies about Ukraine, Russia and the ever evil Vlad. Here is a good example from the page one article by Gordon and others on July 18, entitled “U.S. Sees Evidence of Russian Links to Jet’s Downing.” It begins:
“The United States government has concluded that the passenger jet felled over Ukraine was shot down by a Russian-made surface-to-air missile launched from rebel-held territory and most likely provided by Russia to pro-Moscow separatists, officials said on Friday. While American officials are still investigating the chain of events leading to the destruction of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 on Thursday, they pointed to a series of indicators of Russian involvement……” (Emphasis, jw)
Where is the evidence? The only evidence is that “officials said.” There is no indication of who the “officials” are or precisely what they said. Then there is the hedge phrase “most likely.” And finally Gordon and his co-authors tell us that the unnamed officials are “still investigating.” Finally although there is no conclusion, there are a “series of indicators.” (At the same time the Russian Ministry of Defense has released a lot of verifiable information on the incident, readily accessible on RT.com, whereas the U.S. has produced nothing other than some suspicious anecdotes on social media and a lot of speculation.) Not only should Gordon and his co-authors, Peter Baker and Mark Mazetti, the Judith Millers du jour, be summarily dismissed but also the “editors that let this trash appear as news rather than the unfounded propaganda that it is. (Mazetti and Baker should be leery of being Gordon’s accomplices. He may need a fall guy once again. Think Judith Miller, fellows.)
Let us turn to the notorious Miller and Gordon article of 2002 for comparison with Gordon’s piece on Ukraine. It begins:
“More than a decade after Saddam Hussein agreed to give up weapons of mass destruction, Iraq has stepped up its quest for nuclear weapons and has embarked on a worldwide hunt for materials to make an atomic bomb, Bush administration officials said today. In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium. American officials said….” (Emphasis, jw)
Remarkable similarity! Cookie cutter prevarication, one might say. “American officials” are ever on the job and ever anonymous. And Michael R. Gordon is front and center on page one as their ever faithful, ever unquestioning transmission belt. No one can possibly think that Gordon is in the business of truth. We would be fools to believe a word he says. He fooled us once (in fact, many times). Shame on us if we let him fool us once again. His lies are laced with blood and death. We should avert our gaze from them.
John V. Walsh can be reached at John.Endwar@gmail.com.
The NY Times reports a blockbuster story about the anti-Iran lobby group, United Against a Nuclear Iran. It’s an especially perfidious group supporting regime change, though it couches its approach in terms of opposing Iran’ nuclear program. Curiously, this is precisely the same way Israel’s far-right government disguises its own support for the violent overthrow of the Iranian government. Knowing that such a plan is not supported by the west including the Obama administration, they believe that they can paint Iran as enough of a threat to the world through it’s alleged plans to create nuclear weapons, that this will get them half-way to regime change.
UANI specializes in “outing” companies which allegedly violate UN sanctions against Iran. The Times article revealed that the companies are usually approached by an Israeli “fixer” with close ties to the Mossad. He’s Rami Ungar, owner of an Israeli company, Ray Shipping, who’s worth $500-million.
Ungar gives them an opportunity to renounce their supposed trade with Iran. Sometimes they’re extorted for a donation to UANI as well. Though the article doesn’t mention it, I’m certain that the Mossad intermediary probes for companies that will serve Israel’s interests in its fight against Iran. Companies doing business with Iran who are willing to become Mossad assets are worth their weight in gold, since the Iranians trust them and Israel can use such trust to sabotage whatever aspect of the Iranian military or commercial interests the sanctions-buster participates in.
What brought much of this to light is a lawsuit brought by one of the ship owners who was targeted by UANI. Instead of rolling over and playing dead, Victor Restis decided to sue UANI to find out what was going on inside the bowels of this organization. Restis, who denies all charges against him made by UANI, decided to take the battle to UANI. He’s demanding to see internal documents that would show who conveyed information to the group about him, what the information said, and how it was collected. His suit also implies that the Mossad directly funds UANI, another explosive charge.
What’s especially odd about the case is that the U.S. Justice Department has threatened to intervene in the case on behalf of UANI. Clearly, the real reason they’re willing to take such an unusual step is that they’re trying to protect the Mossad. It would not only embarrass our Israeli ally[sic], it might expose the covert methods and work product of Israeli intelligence. It might allow Iran to find out what Mossad knows about it and how.
This is so unseemly because the Obama administration is protecting a foreign spy agency which aggressively steals U.S. secrets when possible. We are also protecting the Mossad as it attempts to manipulate U.S. public opinion in a witch hunt against Iran, which is a country with whom we’re trying to negotiate a rapprochement. Here is how the U.S. explained its “interest” in the case:
Government lawyers said they had a “good faith basis to believe that certain information” would jeopardize law enforcement investigations, reveal investigative techniques or identify confidential sources if released.
If we take this literally, it means the U.S. government has been in cahoots with the Mossad in this campaign against Iranian commerce. Even if it means something less than that, it certainly means that we’re protecting the Mossad as one of our “confidential sources.” The other possible interpretation is that the U.S. is investigating UANI or the Mossad for their collusion together, though the article doesn’t point in that direction at all.
UANI, though it claims to be a bi-partisan group above the political fray, is heavily laden with neocon, Bush-era personnel and board members. It’s full of U.S. intelligence officials and diplomats known as especially friendly to Israel, including Dennis Ross. Meir Dagan is also listed as an advisor. UANI appears little more than an extension of Israeli intelligence based in the U.S.
Hillary Mann Leverett on the Iran Nuclear Talks
Earlier this week, Hillary appeared on CCTV’s The Heat to discuss the Iran nuclear talks; click on video above or see here. In her segment, she focused on what really drives the divide between Tehran and the Western members of the P5+1 (the United States, Britain, and France) over Iranian enrichment—namely, the clash between the Islamic Republic’s commitment to strategic independence and Western powers’ determination that Tehran must accept their directives regarding implementation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the dynamics of Middle Eastern power politics. As Hillary notes,
“There has been progress on some significant issues—but this fundamental issue about enrichment is critically important. It gets to not just the number of centrifuges…The issue is really a question of independence.
Iran is fiercely devoted to its independence. That’s what the Islamic Revolution was all about—for Iran to be independent of foreign powers—and it wants this civilian nuclear program as part of its program for independence. So it needs to not dismantle any of its current infrastructure—which includes about 10,000 operating centrifuges—and to increase it, to a have full-fledged civilian nuclear power program.
The United States wants just the opposite. The United States has finally come around, after more than ten years of pounding its fist on the table, to admitting that maybe Iran could have a symbolic program—but that Iran needs to remain dependent on other countries…Not only does this go against the very principles of the revolution in Iran, for independence, but, in fact, Iran tried that. They bought fuel from Argentina, until the United States got angry and forced Argentina to cut it off. And they were part of a project called Eurodif, where Iran bought ten percent of that project, and then they were cut off.
So that’s the fundamental divide—whether to keep Iran dependent on the international community, or to allow them to be independent. That is going to be a very difficult bridge to cross…It’s not a matter of time; it’s a matter of mentality.”
Of course, official Washington’s hegemonic mentality—and its accompanying pretensions—are increasingly at odds with the actual distribution of power in an evolving international order. In part, this reflects the declining utility of America’s military might; to paraphrase a line from that timeless study in the exercise of power (and classic Hollywood blockbuster film), The Godfather, “the United States doesn’t even have that kind of muscle anymore—and can’t really use that much of what it still has.” As Hillary elaborates, that’s an important reason the United States is negotiating, however reluctantly, with Iran:
“It’s interesting that President Obama has refrained…since January of this year, from saying that all options are on the table, for two reasons. One, I think, in terms of allowing the negotiations to go forward, is to take the military option off the table as an offensive rhetorical device against the Iranians.
But part of this is real. This is something that, from all my trips to Iran, I understood. The Supreme Leader there, security and political analysts there, realized a few years ago that after America’s failed interventions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Syria, we don’t have the military option on the table, and that gives room for negotiations.
So, even though I’m not optimistic there’s going to be a deal, a comprehensive deal either today or in four months (the new deadline), I do think that there’s enough incentive on both sides to continue negotiations for a very long time. And you may see in September, when the United Nations convenes in New York, you may see not only continued intensive negotiations of high-level officials, but potentially even a President Obama-President Rohani meeting—not to actually seal the deal, but to inject enough momentum to keep things going past the November congressional elections and continue to kick this can down the road.”
Hillary is similarly skeptical about the prospects for a unilateral Israeli attack against Iran:
“Even though a tragically high number of Palestinians have been killed in this current conflict [in Gaza], there is a bit of exposure of the emperor wearing no clothes, that the Israelis are not able to defeat HAMAS in Gaza. And the Iranians certainly see the Israelis having no clothes, that they don’t have the technical capability to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities. With that, there is, again, more time for negotiations.”
Beyond the purely military dimension of America’s relative decline, the rising influence of non-Western powers—China, Russia, and, in the Middle East itself, Iran—has also helped push the United States into multilateral nuclear talks with the Islamic Republic. As Hillary explains, that’s an important reason the P5+1 is negotiating with Iran:
“The world has changed in the past ten years. Ten years ago, when the United States would say that the U.S., Israel, France, and Britain were ‘the international community,’ nobody really made that much noise. Today, they do. So today, the United States has to take the views of, particularly, Russia and China very squarely into account. They have to be at the table, and they have to buy into what the political and security order is going to look like in the Middle East—not just how many centrifuges Iran is going to have. That’s why we have the negotiations.”
Yet, even though it has been pushed into multilateral nuclear negotiations with Iran, the United States continues to take hegemonically assertive positions in the talks. Take Washington’s positions on the duration of a prospective final agreement, the number of centrifuges Iran should be “allowed” to operate under a final agreement, and limiting Iran’s alleged “breakout” capability. As Hillary describes,
“The United States wants at least a ten-year, and they’re gunning really for a twenty-year deal. That has nothing to do with proliferation. That has to do with their wanting to outwait the Supreme Leader, the Supreme Leader’s life…so that the Islamic Republic has, in their view, a prospect of collapsing into a more pro-American political order.
The Iranians are not buying into that…they’re focused more on what their practical needs are, based on when they have contracts or prospective contracts for nuclear plants, when they need the fuel, and how much fuel they need.
That gets into the number of centrifuges—and, again, this is where the Supreme Leader has spoken about numbers that are much greater than the Americans are willing to consider at this point. But he’s focused on what are the practical needs—the practical needs as told to him by the head of Iran’s atomic energy agency, who (guess what) has his Ph.D. from MIT here in the United States, and who knows what he’s doing.
So [the Iranians] are really talking about a practical needs-based approach, based on a sovereign country pursuing a technical, practical program. The United States is focused on power and influence, and on maintaining a pro-American political and security order in the Middle East…
The so-called ‘breakout issue’ is also a lot of smoke and mirrors. Again, it’s aimed at limiting Iran’s domestic, indigenous, sovereign capacity to pursue this program.
If the United States and its so-called partners were really interested in proliferation, they would accept the Iranian deal, which is to convert all—not some, but all—their enriched uranium into oxide, into powder to make into fuel. All of it. You’d solve the proliferation issue overnight, but the United States isn’t interested in that…We’re interested in constraining capacity, to constrain Iran’s power—its rising power, particularly in the Middle East—at a very volatile time for the United States.”
Hillary goes on to discuss the strategic imperative for the United States to pursue “Nixon-to-China”-style rapprochement with the Islamic Republic—and, in the process, “to change America’s strategy from one of dominance and hegemony in the Middle East to one that is a balance of power, that recognizes and deals with all the critical powers as they are, not as we would like to transform the Middle East.”
–Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett
The U.S. Department of Justice has drawn attention to itself for helping an organization opposed to Iran maintain secrecy of its records, which are caught up in a defamation lawsuit filed against the group.
United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) was founded six years ago and is operated by and gets advice from a who’s who list of American and foreign politicos, including former U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman; Frances Townsend, the former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush; Dennis Ross, a former Middle East adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents; plus former intelligence chiefs from Israel, Germany and Britain.
Victor Restis, a Greek shipping magnate accused by UANI of violating sanctions by doing business with Iran, filed a defamation suit against the group. Restis’ lawyers have sought to compel UANI to release information about its donors and other details.
But the Justice Department stepped in and asked a federal judge to block the request, claiming the records contain sensitive information that the government considers important. Federal attorneys insisted “that certain information” would jeopardize law enforcement investigations, expose investigative techniques or identify confidential sources if released, according to The New York Times.
U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos in New York City granted the government’s request, while also describing the U.S. government’s involvement as “very curious.” The Justice Department has until July 31 to claim law enforcement privilege and keep the information from being disclosed permanently. In the meantime, each side has hurled charges and countercharges at the other.
“I am particularly concerned,” Ramos said in April, “that the defendants are able to utilize certain information in its public statements, and then not have to answer to their actions on the basis of a privilege.”
The claim of privilege puts the Justice Department in a conundrum. Federal intelligence agencies are not supposed to work with outside agencies to influence U.S. public opinion. But if UANI hasn’t been working with the government, what information could it have that would be so sensitive? We might find out on Thursday.
The Iranian Red Crescent Society (IRCS) says it is ready to set up a fully equipped makeshift hospital in the Gaza Strip amid deadly Israeli attacks on the impoverished coastal enclave.
Seyyed Reza Raeis Karami, the IRCS under-secretary general for health, treatment and rehabilitation, said the humanitarian body is ready to dispatch a medical team to Gaza and build a field hospital there to treat those wounded in Israeli attacks.
The hospital could be built up in a six-month period, while a group of 23 Iranian surgeons will also operate in the medical center to treat the injured Gazans, according to the IRCS official.
Karami added that the IRCS will be prepared to send necessary equipment and human resources to set up the hospital after gaining permission and making assessments of the situation in the Palestinian land.
The first consignment of relief aid provided by the IRCS for Gazans has been flown into the Egyptian capital of Cairo and is waiting to be cleared for transfer into the coastal enclave via the Rafah border crossing.
On July 21, Iran’s Health Minister Seyyed Hassan Qazizadeh Hashemi said the country’s hospitals were fully prepared to admit the injured Palestinians, saying the Islamic Republic is ready to supply the wounded with necessary medicine.
Latest reports say Israeli aerial and ground assaults have killed more than 1,100 Gazans and injured over 6,500 others since July 8.
Hospitals in Gaza are in desperate need of medicine and equipment. Over the past days, Israeli warplanes and tanks have pounded several hospitals across the besieged region.
Earlier this month, the Israeli military targeted the hospitals in Deir al-Balah and Beit Hanoun, killing a number of Palestinian civilians and wounding several others.
The Consistency of Official Iranian Commentary, Part III: On Khamenei’s Referendum Rhetoric, Reuters is Wrong
Last week, Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei addressed a meeting of Iranian university students and, in his first public comments on the ongoing assault on Gaza, spoke of his belief in the necessity of continued Palestinian resistance to Israel aggression, oppression, and occupation.
“Don’t the Palestinians have the right to defend their lives and security?” he asked rhetorically, and condemned Western nations like the United States and Great Britain for openly supporting Israel’s assault and justifying “crimes that no ordinary person would.”
In the right-wing Daily Caller, notorious neocon darling Reza Kahlili noted that Khamenei reiterated the call by his predecessor, Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, that “Israel must be destroyed,” adding that “until that time with the help of God for this cruel and murderous regime to be destroyed, strong confrontation with steadfast armed resistance is the only solution against this destructive regime.”
Yet the Caller omitted a crucial aspect of Khamenei’s speech – deliberately replaced by an ellipsis linking the the paraphrased Khomeini quote with Khamenei’s endorsement of Palestinian armed struggle – in which the Iranian leader stated that the ideal solution to the current impasse was a democratic vote.
The missing piece, however, was reported by other outlets. “There are logical and practical means to this end, which is for people who live and belong there to pick the government of their choice through a referendum. That would be the end of a usurping fake regime,” Khamenei said, according to a translation by Reuters. Until that time, he continued, “while waiting for an end to this cold-blooded murderous regime, mighty armed resistance is the only way to deal with it.”
Only through a vote by the indigenous population, Khamenei said, will “the usurper and forged regime” of Israel “be practically annihilated.”
Kahlili’s report predictably expunged all mention of a referendum, focusing instead on Iranian military capabilities and nuclear negotiations. More troubling, perhaps, is that “The Young Turks,” a liberal (some might even say, progressive) news and commentary outlet led by host Cenk Uygur, promoted the Daily Caller line in their own round table discussion of the matter. After hearing a portion of the Kahlili article read aloud verbatim, co-host Ana Kasparian described Khamenei’s comments as “extremely violent” and “crazy,” while John Iadarola called such statements “depressing.”
Reuters also quoted Khamenei as saying, “Israel’s annihilation is the only real cure, but that doesn’t mean destroying Jews in this region,” a statement also ignored by the Daily Caller. With this comment, Reuters editorialized, “Khamenei made clear for the first time that he was talking about the dismantling of the state of Israel, not the death of Jews.”
While such clarification is important, the characterization of that distinction as being a new addition to Khamenei’s rhetoric is curious. In fact, this is a distinction made often by Iranian officials when discussing this very topic – and Iran’s official position toward Israel/Palestine. Cursory research into past statements quickly reveals the consistency of such statements and proves the Reuters claim to be, not only sloppy, but ludicrous.
A similar presumption was made last year in the wake of then-newly-inaugurated Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s insistence that, “when it comes to the settlement and resolution of regional issues,” including the colonization and occupation of Palestine, “we believe that the only path is through the ballot box, through democracy.” International news media declared this to be a breakthrough moment, despite the clear fact that Rouhani’s immediate predecessor, the much-maligned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, had made identical statements throughout his eight-year tenure as president.
“We are opposed to the idea that the people who live there should be thrown into the sea or be burnt,” Ahmadinejad said in comments reported by the New York Times in September 2008. “We believe that all the people who live there, the Jews, Muslims and Christians, should take part in a free referendum and choose their government.”
More to the point, however, Khamenei himself has remained remarkably consistent on this issue, and Iran’s official prescription, for over two decades. In an extensive analysis of Khamenei’s speeches since 1990, published in the Boston Review in November 2013, well-known Iranian dissident Akbar Ganji – no fan of the Iran’s theocratic leadership – revealed the truth: Khamenei has long called for a new, inclusive Palestinian government to supersede the current Zionist one, thereby dismantling what is currently known as “Israel” politically, not violently.
For instance, Ganji notes, on April 17, 1991, Khamenei discussed “his solution for the Palestinian problem and said, ‘The Islamic Republic’s solution is to disband the usurping Zionist regime, forming a government of the Palestinians, and [guaranteeing] peaceful co-existence of Jews, Christians, and Muslims in all of Palestine.'” Four months later, on August 19, 1991, Ganji adds, Khamenei stated, “Solving the Palestinian problem entails destroying and eliminating the illegitimate government there, so that the true owners [of the land] can form a new government; Muslims, Christians, and Jews can live side by side… Our view regarding the Palestine issue is clear. We believe the solution is destroying the Israeli regime.”
Nearly a decade later, Khamenei’s position had not shifted. In a speech to the Basij militia on October 21, 2000, Ganji tells us that Khamenei again laid out his vision for the indigenous people of Palestine to choose their own political path forward. “The solution is for the millions of the Palestinians to return to Palestine, the several millions that live away from home to return to Palestine. The indigenous people of Palestine—Jews, Christians, and Muslims—should hold a referendum to decide what kind of a regime they want. The vast majority are Muslims. There are also Jews and Christians that belong there, as their parents also lived there. They can decide the political system that they favor,” he opined.
In March 2002, Khamenei again stated, “Holding a referendum in Palestine among the Palestinians, and all those that became refugees—if, of course, they want to return to Palestine—is a rational solution.” In June 2002, he repeated, “The only solution for the Palestine problem is that the true Palestinians, not the usurping and occupying immigrants, those who live in Palestine and those who became refugees, decide the type of government that they want. If asking for the vote of the people of a nation is a solution for those who claim to be democracy advocates, [then] Palestine is also a nation and must decide [its fate].”
The Palestinian problem has only one solution, and that is what we proposed several years ago. Hold a referendum among the indigenous Palestinians, those who live there, or are in refugee camps, or live elsewhere, regardless of whether they are Muslim, Christian, or Jew, and ask them to decide the government that they want. Regardless of whether that government is run by the Muslims, Jews, or Christians, as long as it is the result of people’s direct votes, is acceptable, and will solve the problem. Without it [the referendum] the problem will never be solved.
That Reuters would now claim Khamenei’s recent comments about Gaza mark a stark break from the past is absurd. In his Friday prayer sermon on June 20, 2008, Khamenei declared, “No, we have no problems with Jews. We have no problems with Christians, and with adherents of other religions in the world. The usurper is just the Zionist regime. This is the position of our state, and that of our revolution and our people.”
Similarly, on September 30, 2011, Khamenei spoke at a conference in support of the Palestinian struggle for freedom, justice, and self-determination, and said, “We neither advocate a classic war between Israel and the Islamic countries, nor throwing the Jewish people into the sea, and neither do we accept mediation by the United Nations or any other international organization. We propose a referendum among the Palestinian people. Similar to any other nation, the Palestinians also have the right to decide their fate and pick the type of government they want.”
Addressing the opening assembly of the Non-Aligned Movement on August 30, 2012 in Tehran, Khamenei once again reiterated Iran’s “just and entirely democratic solution” to the conflict:
All the Palestinians – both the current citizens of Palestine and those who have been forced to immigrate to other countries but have preserved their Palestinian identity, including Muslims, Christians and Jews – should take part in a carefully supervised and confidence-building referendum and chose the political system of their country, and all the Palestinians who have suffered from years of exile should return to their country and take part in this referendum and then help draft a Constitution and hold elections. Peace will then be established.
Regardless of whether Khamenei’s proposals are realistic, idealistic, inevitable or impossible, is irrelevant. That he has consistently called for a referendum to alter the exclusivist and discriminatory political system that controls Palestinian lives and has routinely made distinctions between the Zionist government in Israel specifically and Jewish people in general, is indisputable.
Reuters should get their facts straight.
There are a few articles about the July 3, 1988 shootdown of Iran Air 655 by the USS Vincennes, occasioned by the recent news about the Malaysian Airlines shootdown in Urkaine, that are remarkable in their deliberate effort to ignore the known history of the event. They all miss the most important and salient point: The location of the USS Vincennes when it shot down the Iranian airliner.
For example, lets take a look at what Max Fisher writes in the Washington Post (last year, but the coverage has not improved):
1- *”Toward the end of the war, on July 3, 1988, a U.S. Navy ship called the Vincennes was exchanging fire with small Iranian ships in the Persian Gulf.”*
US forces had been skirmishing with lightly-armed Iranian patrol vessels before but that engagement had ended and U.S. forces had been told to to break off. The Vincennes had refused, and sent its helo to buzz Iranian patrol vessels inside Iranian waters that posed no danger to it. It then used the resultant light arms warning fire from the patrol vessels as an excuse to charge into Iranian waters and attack patrol vessels. According to Capt Carlson of the USS Sides, “the conduct of the Iranian military forces in the month preceding the incident was pointedly non-threatening.”
2- *”The U.S. Navy kept ships there, and still does, to protect oil trade routes.”*
The reason the US Navy was there was specifically to “protect” the shipping for Iraq by Kuwait and other Arab states that were helping Saddam in his war against Iran. It was in fact Iraq that had started targeting tankers, since Iran had blockaded Iraq’s export of oil (when Iran captured the al-Faw Peninsula.) By assisting Saddam, Kuwait was acting as a co-belligerent in the war, and the US was aiding the Kuwaitis and Iraqis prosecute a war of aggression.
3- *The airport was used by both civilian and military aircraft.*
Same thing happens at Dulles Airport. This is no justification. Why mention it unless presented as an implied justification?
4- *The Vincennes mistook the lumbering Airbus A300 civilian airliner for a much smaller and faster F-14 fighter jet, perhaps in the heat of battle*
Capt Rogers was warned of “Possible Commair” before he ordered the missiles launched. And Since the Vincennes had initiated hostilities and entered Iranian waters, whatever “mistake” was made “in the heat of battle” was still the fault of the US Navy.
5- *or perhaps because the flight allegedly did not identify itself.*
The ICAO report clearly states that the Airbus transponder was correctly identifying the plane as a civilian airliner, and that the warnings that the USS Vincennes sent were either on the wrong channel or incorrectly identified the intended recipient.
While negotiators from Iran, the United States and the rest of the P5+1 will not meet their July 20 target for a comprehensive nuclear agreement, it is clear they won’t walk away from the table in a huff. So, as the parties prepare to continue the process, what has America learned from negotiating with Iran, and what does it still need to learn to close a final deal?
One thing Washington has learned is that the Islamic Republic is deeply committed to protecting Iran’s independence. Thirty-five years ago, Iran’s current political order was born of a revolution promising Iranians to end subordination of their country’s foreign policy to the dictates of outside powers—especially the United States. Since then, the Islamic Republic has worked hard to keep that promise—for example, by defending Iran against a U.S.-backed, eight-year war of aggression by Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and fending off a steady stream of U.S. and Israeli covert attacks, economic warfare and threats of overt military action.
On nuclear matters, the Islamic Republic’s commitment to protecting Iranian independence focuses on the proposition that Iran has a sovereign right, recognized in the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), to enrich uranium indigenously under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards. The Islamic Republic terminated the purely weapons-related aspects of the U.S.-supplied nuclear program it inherited from the last shah, going so far as to reconfigure the Tehran Research Reactor—which, when transferred by the United States in the 1960s, only ran on fuel enriched to weapons-grade levels (over 90 percent)—to use fuel enriched to just below 20 percent.
But the Islamic Republic has also been determined to develop a range of civil nuclear capabilities, including indigenous enrichment for peaceful purposes. It won’t surrender Iran’s right to do so—even in the face of massive U.S. and Western pressure and sanctions. Beyond sovereignty and practical needs, Iranian policy makers judge that appeasing Washington on the issue will simply lead to more aggressive U.S. demands and pressure on other disputes.
America may have begun to recognize that respecting Iranian independence is key to diplomatic progress. For over a decade, Washington has insisted—contrary to how the vast majority of states read the NPT and to America’s own publicly stated view during the Treaty’s early years—that Iran has no right to enrich. Even today, while Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledges Iran’s right to a “peaceful nuclear program,” the United States refuses to acknowledge that this includes a right to safeguarded enrichment.
However, when Washington has moved, in practical ways, to accept safeguarded Iranian enrichment, Tehran has responded positively. In the Joint Plan of Action agreed last November, America and its British and French partners dropped their longstanding demands that Iran cease all enrichment-related activities before substantial diplomatic progress would be possible. Furthermore, the United States and the rest of the P5+1 agreed that a final deal would encompass an Iranian enrichment program. In return, Tehran made multiple commitments to diminish what America and its Western partners portray as the proliferation risks of Iran’s nuclear activities. These confidence-building measures—which, the IAEA reports, Iran has scrupulously implemented—include stopping enrichment at the near-20 percent level needed for TRR fuel, converting part of its near-20 percent stockpile to oxide form and diluting fissile-isotope purity in the rest, freezing its centrifuge infrastructure and accepting IAEA monitoring well beyond NPT requirements.
While U.S. officials have started to grasp the importance of respecting Iran’s independence, they have yet to draw this insight’s full implications—the main reason a final deal isn’t at hand.
America and its Western partners continue demanding that Iran dismantle most of its safeguarded centrifuge infrastructure—a demand with no basis in the NPT or any other legal instrument and which contributes nothing to Western powers’ purported nonproliferation goals. Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif has made clear that, in a final deal, Iran could agree to cap temporarily the scope and level of its enrichment activities and to operate its centrifuges in ways rendering alleged scenarios of rapid “breakout” implausible (e.g., no stockpiling of low-enriched uranium).
Unfortunately, Western demands for dismantlement appear grounded in a determination that Tehran must “surrender” in a final deal—to forego sustainable indigenous enrichment capabilities and instead rely on foreign fuel suppliers (especially Russia). If Western powers insist that Iran compromise its sovereign rights, there will be no final deal, no matter how long talks are extended.
The United States also still needs to learn—however incomprehensible this may seem to some—that the Islamic Republic is, in fact, a legitimate order for the overwhelming majority of Iranians living inside their country.
Besides restoring Iranian independence, the revolution that produced the Islamic Republic promised Iranians to replace externally imposed autocracy with an indigenously created system, grounded in participatory Islamist governance. For thirty-five years, this is what the Islamic Republic has offered Iranians the chance to build. With all its flaws, the Islamic Republic has delivered for its people in important ways, including impressive (and progressive) developmental outcomes in poverty alleviation, educational access, health-care delivery, scientific and technological advancement, and improving the status of women—despite decades of war, threats of war, and intensifying sanctions.
Still, many American elites persist in depicting the Islamic Republic as a system so despised by its own people as to be chronically in danger of overthrow—a fantasy that has driven Western enthusiasm and not-so-tacit support for regime change in Iran. Beyond its falsity, this misapprehension of reality continues to warp the Western approach to nuclear diplomacy with Tehran. Beyond dictating the “acceptable” scope of Iran’s indigenous capabilities, Western powers want the limits on Iran’s nuclear activities in a final deal to apply for well over a decade. Conversations with Western officials indicate that this demand—also with no basis in the NPT or any other legal instrument—is motivated by assessments that the Islamic Republic will not last for more than ten years. By insisting on a more-than-ten-year term, Western powers are calculating that, when a final deal expires, Iran will have a political order less committed to strategic independence.
This is both foolhardy and reckless. The Islamic Republic is not about to disappear—and no truly legitimate Iranian government will compromise what the vast majority of Iranians see as their nation’s sovereign rights.
When the United States fully understands that, the nuclear issue will almost resolve itself.