by Tahir Mustafa (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 44, No. 4, Sha'ban, 1436)
Despite the framework agreement that outlines the guidelines, the West led by the US is introducing new demands into the negotiations such as inspection of Iran’s military sites and interview of nuclear scientists. These could derail the talks.
As legal and technical experts from Iran and the P5+1 group of countries continue to meet to hammer out a final agreement by the June 30 deadline, a number of caveats seem to have appeared, prompting the Rahbar, Imam Seyyed Ali Khamenei to issue a public statement clarifying the Islamic Republic’s stance. Addressing the commencement ceremony for graduates of the Imam Husayn Academy in Tehran on May 20, the Rahbar said the Islamic Republic will not allow inspection of its military sites. “They [P5+1 group of countries] are adding new artilces in the [nuclear] negotiations. Regarding the inspections, we have said we will not allow foreigners to carry out inspections of any [Iranian] military sites,” the Rahbar emphasized. He also made clear that “The enemies should know that the Iranian people and officials will, by no means, give in to excessive demands and bullying.”
The military sites’ inspection demand has emerged following statements by director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, saying that in the process of verifying Iran’s compliance with its obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), if the agency felt that military sites should be inspected then he would demand access to them. His latest remarks were made in interviews with two French media outlets — Agence France Presse and Le Monde — on May 27 and also echoed by French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in the French National Assembly the same day.
Both Fabius and Amano have shown special aversion to the Islamic Republic. While the Frenchman, an arch Zionist, has pursued an obstructionist attitude in the P5+1 group of countries’ negotiations with Iran, the IAEA chief has a record of making absurd allegations. Iran has repeatedly stated that its nuclear program is entirely peaceful and that it is prepared to make every effort to assure the P5+1 group of countries by being completely transparent. The excessive demands being made by Amano and now echoed by various US and French officials, raise serious concerns.
This was one of the weaknesses in the framework accord signed on April 2 in Switzerland whereby Iran’s compliance was left to the IAEA to verify. Given its track record and scandalous allegations that have repeatedly turned out to be false (as confirmed even by 17 US intelligence agencies), there was concern that the IAEA would be used as a battering ram to force Iran to open its military sites for spying under the guise of external inspections. The risks of such inspections are very real: the US and the West’s intentions have always been ignoble. Western rulers have seldom operated on the basis of honor, fairness, morality or even living up to their written obligations in any dealings. They never negotiate in good faith and have never lived according to any principles.
One can almost predict how the P5+1 group of countries will conduct themselves even if a final agreement is reached and signed on June 30 (or a little later). Here is a possible scenario. Firstly, IAEA inspectors will conduct intrusive inspections of all of Iran’s nuclear facilities. Monitoring cameras recording every movement 24/7 would be installed. There will even be snap inspections of many of these sites. Once these sites are shown to have no illegal activity, the IAEA will move to the next phase before Iran’s assets are unfrozen.
Hence, secondly, the IAEA will demand that Iran open up its military bases because the agency “suspects” certain military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program. This demand was made in 2003 as well and Iran made its military site at Parchin accessible to the IAEA. However, when the West — then represented by Britain, France and Germany — reneged on its part of the agreement, the Islamic Republic withdrew its compliance with the Additional Protocol. The IAEA is now being used again for these excessive demands.
This is not mere speculation. The day the Rahbar announced that there would be no inspection of military sites by foreigners, US State Department spokeswoman Maria Harf said in Washington that the US would not sign a final nuclear deal unless Iran granted access to possible military dimension-related sites and nuclear scientists. “If we don’t get the assurances we need on the access to possible military dimension-related sites or activities, that’s going to be a problem for us,” Harf said.
The State Department spokeswoman went on, “We and Iran have agreed that we will undertake a process to address possible military dimensions [of past nuclear work], and part of that includes access.” Putting her own interpretation on the framework agreement, Harf said, “Under the Additional Protocol… which Iran will implement and has said they will implement as part of this deal, the IAEA does get access.” Furthermore, she warned, “If we cannot agree in the final instance to something that meets our bottom line for what we need in terms of access, we’re not going to sign a final deal. And that’s just something we’ve been very, very clear about.”
Her remarks were made after the Rahbar said that Iran would not allow inspection of its military sites saying the US is making fresh demands in nuclear negotiations. The Rahbar said these new and excessive demands were among the challenges that the Islamic Republic faced. He told officials in Tehran, “We are not afraid of these challenges… the people of Iran will weather these challenges with determination, trust in Allah (swt) and self-reliance.”
Another demand made by the P5+1 group of countries and the IAEA is that the agency must be given access to Iranian nuclear scientists to “interview” them. The Rahbar categorically rejected any such interviews describing them as “interrogations.” He emphasized that he would not allow aliens to speak with Iranian scientists in the nuclear domain and any “other sensitive areas.” The Rahbar advised nuclear scientists and officials that “firm resolve” and “alert vigilance” were the only way to counter the “brazen enemy.” In his first official comments after the framework agreement was signed on April 2, the Rahbar reserved judgment saying that this was not a final deal, only a framework, and a great deal more work was needed. His prescient remarks have come true.
Following French Foreign Minister Fabius’ absurd remarks that France would not sign a final agreement (as an “independent” decision of his country) unless Tehran agreed to inspections of its military sites, Iran’s Foreign Minister Dr. Mohammad Javad Zarif warned the P5+1 group of countries on May 28 against “making excessive demands.” He was addressing a joint press conference in Athens with his Greek counterpart Nikos Kotzias.
Dr. Zarif said France’s new stance ran counter to the mutual understanding reached between the two sides in the Swiss city of Lausanne on April 2. He pointed out that what Paris was demanding was tantamount to a call to renegotiate the Lausanne agreement. “If people insist… on renegotiations, then it will be difficult to envisage an agreement,” he said. Dr. Zarif told his negotiating partners that an accord was possible even before the stipulated deadline of June 30, provided that “people have their foot in reality, not in illusions.” He went on, “We can only have agreements in which both sides can claim they have achieved positive results. You need to either win together, or lose together.”
The Americans have also thrown a monkey wrench into the negotiations that would lead to a final agreement. President Barack Obama who had earlier urged Congress not to pass any new anti-Iran legislation because it would jeopardize negotiations with Tehran, signed into law a bill that would allow Congress to review and potentially reject any final nuclear agreement with Iran. Called the Iran Nuclear Review Act of 2015, Obama signed the bill on May 22.
The House of Representatives passed the bill on May 14 by a massive vote of 400–25; the US Senate had already passed it a week earlier by s 98–1 margin. Based on Obama’s signing it into law, the Congress will have 30 days to review any final nuclear deal with Iran. Given the Zionist lobby’s virtual control of the US Congress — remember Pat Buchanan’s famous words that “Congress is Zionist occupied territory” — any deal could easily be torpedoed by craven congressional members on orders from their Zionist masters.
Under the new law, Obama would be able to waive only those Iran sanctions that were imposed by an executive order. He would not be able to lift sanctions that were drafted into law by Congress. Thus, Congress would have a virtual veto over the lifting of any sanctions. In addition to the influence of the Zionist lobby, members of Congress are also given to grandstanding. This becomes particularly absurd during an election year. Since presidential elections are held every four years and House elections every two years, there could be a lot of negativity, which is completely detached from reality, generated during these election cycles. Add to that Fox News’ hysterical ranting and the entire deal could become hostage to blackmailers and criminals masquerading as lawmakers. The bill also forces Obama to certify, on a regular basis, that Iran is abiding by the terms of any nuclear deal.
All these add up to a lot of serious hurdles in the way of the deal even if it is signed on June 30 or soon thereafter. There is no doubt in the ability of Iran’s negotiators; it is the other side that is totally untrustworthy. Caution should be guiding word.