The West seems to have learned little - sadly very little - in its dealings with Iran’s Ayatollahs. In the past and recently, the Iranian regime has played a waiting game: offer a little, stall a while, offer less, stall more, all the while pursuing its agenda to develop a nuclear weapon under the guise of a “peaceful” nuclear energy program.
One would think that Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryA presidential candidate pledge can right the wrongs of an infamous day Equilibrium/Sustainability — Dam failures cap a year of disasters Four environmental fights to watch in 2022 MORE and his equals among the P5+1 (the permanent UN Security Council states plus Germany) would have already learned from decades of Iranian deceit. Instead, they appear anxious to claim near term success, in the process giving Iran what it desperately needs: breathing room to further develop its illicit program.
A year ago, crippled under the weight of international sanctions and paranoid over growing domestic discontent, the clerical regime reluctantly made a one-step retreat and signed the Joint Plan of Action in Geneva. Tragically, Western powers’ repeated extensions since have emboldened Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Tragic, because this strategy has essentially granted Tehran the space necessary to continue destroying the Middle East and in the process exploit the universally-treasured diplomatic processes.
The current stalemate is also the inevitable result of P5+1’s deliberate silence vis-à-vis Iran’s past and present flagrant human rights violations. These abuses, which have dramatically increased while the West has been talking to the mullahs, include a wave of state sanctioned acid attacks on women, near daily public executions, continued and deepening meddling in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. The P5+1 could have instead benefited from condemning Iran’s atrocious rights record inline with the bi-partisan resolution (H.Res.754), introduced by the Chair and Ranking Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and adopted by the House of Representatives last month.
After the Geneva accord, we the Iranian-American community members joined the broader Iranian Resistance to warn that the extent to which Iranian regime retreats from and abandons its pursuit of the bomb and abides by its international obligations will depend on the degree to which the world community demonstrates resolve. A lack of such firmness provides the impetus Khamenei needs to push ahead with his nuclear weapons ambitions.
Tehran’s objective is clear – get the West to ease or remove the sanctions thus reducing the devastating effect on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) mafia-run economy, while stalling just enough to avoid giving concessions.
It bears noting that Tehran has refused to cooperate with the IAEA on possible military dimensions to its nuclear program, an issue that goes to the heart of its dispute with the international community. While the West has not focused on this key aspect, a European NGO, the International Committee in Search of Justice, published a comprehensive report that examined the major unresolved issues between Iran and the IAEA. The report makes it crystal clear that from the outset, Iran’s nuclear program has been totally geared toward military ends and all its conspicuously civilian activities have been serving the same goal. In fact, Iran has never voluntarily shared any of its sensitive nuclear activities with the IAEA, as the Non-Proliferation Treaty requires. Were it not for revelations by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) beginning in 2002, the world would still be in the dark on Iran’s illicit nuclear activities.
As the Iranian opposition leader Maryam Rajavi has underscored, flouting UN Security Council resolutions and extending endless negotiations leave the door open for the regime to obtain nuclear weapons, which it perceives as a guarantor of its survival. “Instead of exercising firmness and tightening the sanctions, this latest extension of the 12-year-long marathon with Tehran is tantamount to walking into a tunnel at the end of which is nothing but a nuclear capable Iran,” she warned.
The only deal the world should accept is one that fully dismantles Iran's capacity to make atomic bombs. This can be achieved by implementing Security Council resolutions, especially halting uranium enrichment, accepting the additional protocol, and allowing IAEA inspectors unhindered access to suspect sites and facilities, military or otherwise, including Parchin. These are indispensable steps to ensure that Tehran does not get the bomb and endanger regional as well as global peace and security.
Sadeghpour is the political director of the Organization of Iranian American Communities.