While Negotiations Meander Along What Has Iran Been Up To?
According to new information released earlier this month, Iran’s nuclear program could be even further ahead than previously thought. The information was issued by an Iranian dissident group and raises new questions in regard to what Tehran has been concealing from nuclear inspectors. Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo reports:
“Iran is said to have built and still be in possession of two explosive chambers that have allowed the regime to conduct advanced testing of nuclear weapons, according to new information published by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), an Iranian opposition group that has exposed Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities in the past.
While the existence of one explosive chamber has been known for some time, the NCRI claims a second device could be hidden at Iran’s Parchin military complex, or at another site somewhere in Iran.
The claims raise new questions about the status and extent of Iran’s nuclear progress as negotiations between Tehran and the West approach their Nov. 24 deadline.
New information about the purported explosive chambers—as well as Iran’s elaborate network of front companies and organizations meant to obfuscate this nuclear work—was released on the same day that the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog accused Iran of failing to address key questions about it’s nuclear program.”
Soona Samsami, the NCRI’s U.S. representative, told reporters at a press briefing that, “today’s information uncovers a simple truth: The clerical regime is ceaselessly and secretly forging ahead with the military dimensions of its nuclear program and has no intention whatsoever of abandoning that program.”
According to the NCRI two explosive chambers were built early in the last decade by Iran’s AzarAb Industries, a group affiliated with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The NCRI also confirms that, “the chambers were to be used for special tests, particularly for high explosive impact as part of the nuclear weapons program of Iran.” At the same time, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) disclosed in a confidential report that Iran still won’t answer questions about possible explosive tests it has carried out. “Iran has not provided any explanations that enable the agency to clarify the outstanding practical measures,” the IAEA report said.
Iran has always had a little help from its friends, so it comes as no surprise to find that Russia and Iran have signed a construction deal for two nuclear power plants which will be located on Iran’s southern Gulf shores.
Against a looming deadline, diplomats from the E.U., the U.S. and Iran have been negotiating a deal on Iran’s nuclear program. The goal of the U.S. and E.U. is to limit Iran’s nuclear program; in return Iran would get an easing of the sanctions on its economy.
The deadline to reach a comprehensive agreement is November 24, but more time may be requested, officials involved in the talks have begun suggesting. As it is, when two day talks were held in Oman, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, complained that no progress was being made. Abbas Araqchi met with representatives from the U.S. and E.U. Negotiations will resume in Vienna on November 18 and all the while, Iran has been toughening its stance, with Araquchi insisting that a deal won’t be made unless the other side gives up its “illogical excessive demands”.
Progress may be lacking in terms of the negotiations, but one major aspect of this whole affair that has not been stalled or stopped is the nuclear program itself. The negotiating process, and any potential delays, gives Iran more time to achieve its nuclear goals. So, while the sanctions have had impact on Iran’s economy, they have not succeeded in stopping the nuclear program’s advances. Algemeiner elaborates:
“Whatever happens, however, the outcome cannot be good.
The signing of a deal would mean that the P5+1 (the U.S., Russia, China, the U.K., France and Germany) will have succumbed to Iran’s demand that it be able to complete its “peaceful” nuclear program, unencumbered by restrictive international sanctions.
The absence of a deal would basically amount to the same thing, since Russia and the Obama administration will not cease pushing for an easing of sanctions, no matter what Iran does.
This no-win situation for the West is precisely what has been buying Iran time to build nuclear bombs.”
‘Fearing a tougher stance from a Republican-dominated Congress, the regime in Tehran is now calculating the wisdom of continuing to postpone an agreement. Since it has no intention of honoring any commitment involving a reduction of its nuclear capabilities, or of having its facilities monitored, it just might decide that it is preferable to sign a worthless piece of paper than risk the wrath of the Republicans.
With all this in mind, the events of the coming week in Vienna should be observed with great trepidation.”
Also along the way, there have been accusations that Iran has violated a commitment it made in the Joint Plan of Action (JPA), involving an agreement made at a meeting with P5+1 leaders in Geneva last year. As the name suggests, the P5+1 is a group of six world powers who in 2006 engaged in diplomatic efforts with Iran in regard to its nuclear program. Specifically, the term refers to the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, (U.S., Russia, China, the U.K. and France) in addition to Germany.
And, not surprisingly, Behrouz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, has denied this accusation, arguing that, “Iran can repeatedly inject gas not only into one machine (centrifuge) but also into a cascade and continue its R&D activities.”
One individual, however, who has been viewing these ongoing negotiations with a heavy dose of skepticism is Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu has warned the six world powers against acquiescing to Iranian demands. “The international community faces a clear choice,” he said. “It can cave to Iranian demands in an agreement that would be dangerous for Israel and the world. Or it can stand firm and insist that Iran dismantle its capacity to produce nuclear weapons.” Netanyahu also indicated that Israel will not support any agreement that allows Iran to be a threshold nuclear state.
Not one to fall for Iran’s claims that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, Netanyahu insists that, “we must do everything to make sure that such a regime is not armed with nuclear weapons.”
As for the negotiation process, the most contentious unresolved matters are the length of any long-term agreement, Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities and the pace at which international sanctions would be eliminated. And, according to US officials, major gaps still remain in the two sides’ negotiating positions.
Moving on to address the possibility of the U.S. aligning itself with Iran to fight ISIS, Netanyahu expressed alarm, commenting that, “Iran is not a partner of America. It’s an enemy of America.”
Then, there have been complicating factors surrounding the negotiations, one of which is the clandestine letter sent to Iranian leader Ayatollah Khamenei, from President Obama. The letter reportedly promised concessions in exchange for help in defeating ISIS. This type of strategy has been tried numerous times before in the past and has never ended well. It didn’t work out too well when employed during the hostage crisis of 1979 when Jimmy Carter sent former Attorney General Ramsay Clark to Tehran to assure the Ayatollah Khomeini that America wanted a good relationship with Iran, “based upon equality, mutual respect and friendship.” Khomeini, however, refused to as much as meet with the envoys.
But, this has not stopped the U.S. from continuing to approach the Iranian government, in the same manner, utilizing the same strategy. Similar attempts have been made over the past 4 decades, as if doing the same thing over and over again will eventually yield a different result. For his part, President Obama has been the most diligent in dealing with the mullahs, having sent not one but four letters to Khamenei. None of the letters were directly answered. However, in response to a May 2009 letter sent by Obama which called for “cooperation in regional and bilateral relations,” Khamenei unleashed a brutal wave of crackdowns on Iranians who protested the dubious presidential election results.
Also, In addition to its nuclear program, Iran has a few more tricks up its sleeve. Recently, Iran announced it will start mass production of unmanned drones. The drones have missile and bombing capabilities and Iranian Revolution Guards Corps commander Mohammad Ali Jafari has said that the Shahed 129 “can hit and destroy targets from a far distance with its Sadid (Iron-Strong) missiles.”
Remember when Iran captured a U.S. reconnaissance drone back in 2011? Now in existence is an Iranian copy of that drone. Hurriyet Daily News reports:
‘We promised that a model of RQ-170 would fly in the second half of the year, and this has happened,’ Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh told IRNA. “A film of the flight will be released soon.”
In a video posted by the semi-official Tasnim News Agency, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei voiced satisfaction at the news after seeing a replica of the drone, saying: ‘Today is a very sweet and unforgettable day for me.’”
Some in the West still question why Iran should not be able to have a nuclear program. Amazingly, some are not convinced that a nuclear Iran would present a significant threat to the West, Israel and anyone else Iran may take issue with. The Iranian Bushehr Nuclear Reactor dates back to 1975 and the reign of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. That’s when construction began. In 1995, Iran and Russia teamed up together and signed a contract for the construction of a new reactor facility at Bushehr. That contract concluded on August 21, 2010 when Russia delivered 80 tons of uranium to Iran.
The problem, however, is not with Iran’s nuclear program itself but with the motivation behind the program. Beginning with the overthrow of the Shah in 1979, Iran has engaged in an aggressive form oppression of its own citizens and has employed destabilizing strategies in the Middle East in an attempt to gain a position of dominance. Moreover, it has been one of the main state sponsors of terrorism. The Council Of Foreign Relations’ Publication 9362 says as much in its opening paragraphs.
In regard to Israel, Iran’s support of Hezbollah as well as Palestinian terrorist organizations is well documented. Iran’s goal, in terms of Israel, has been consistent: Annihilation. Below is just a sampling of this sentiment:
“There is a famous quote on Dec 14, 2001 from one of Iran’s leading clerics Rafsanjani.
‘If one day, the Islamic world would be equipped with weapons available to Israel now, the employment of even one atomic bomb inside Israel will wipe it off the face of the earth but would only do slight damage to the Islamic world.’
In April 2005, Ayatollah Nouri-Hamedani who has a Moslem vision of the End of Times stated,
‘One should fight the Jews and vanquish them so that the conditions for the advent of the Hidden Imam will be met.’
On October 26, 2005, the radical President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said
‘Our dear Imam [Khomeini] ordered that this Jerusalem occupying regime must be erased from the page of time. This was a very wise statement. Soon this stain of disgrace will be cleaned from the garment of the world of Islam. And this is attainable!’
And, so on and so forth.
Recently, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei took to Twitter, tweeting a hate-filled tirade, calling (again) for Israel’s destruction:
This barbaric, wolflike & infanticidal regime of #Israel which spares no crime has no cure but to be annihilated. 7/23/14
#WestBank should be armed just like #Gaza. Friends of Palestine should do their best to arm People in West Bank.
Several more inflammatory tweets, from Khamenei, followed and were retweeted. Of course, it wasn’t the first time Khamenei let loose on Twitter, calling for the annihilation of Israel. He has done so several times before. But, the most recent Twitter rant came just days after it was reported President Obama had issued the friendship letter to Khamenei.
Israelis are not the only ones who are uneasy with Iran’s nuclear progress. Some Christians have been citing Biblical prophecy in which a massive military coalition, which includes Iran, advances on Jerusalem for the purpose of ridding the world of Israel once and for all.
Whether viewed from a religious or secular perspective, however, one should still arrive at the same conclusion: A nuclear Iran presents an enormous threat to the world. And, while sanctions have done damage to Iran’s economy, the centrifuges continue to spin. While negotiations continue, with the possibility of an extended deadline, the nuclear program continues to move forward. Many believe the negotiation process will fail to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear state. But, it may be what ultimately paves the way for the final completion of the nuclear program.