While Congress was debating the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration warned legislators that any changes to the deal would destroy the complicated agreement. But now that Iran has supposedly accepted the deal, its Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, is demanding changes that, if agreed to, would basically render the agreement moot. Khamenei made the demands in a letter reportedly sent to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on Oct. 21, and later published on Khamenei’s website.
The question raised is, will the P5+1 negotiators make more concessions to Iran? And if they don’t, will Iran walk away from the deal?
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin, a former Iran desk officer in Donald Rumsfeld’s Defense Department, wrote for the Gatestone Institute (run by former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton) that the Supreme Leader is making the unreasonable demands partially to deny Barack Obama the legacy he so desperately wants.
In part, Tehran most likely wants to embarrass the U.S. and President Obama personally by denying him a legacy-related political victory, just as Tehran apparently wants to embarrass them by arresting yet another American hostage two weeks ago, American-Iranian business executive Siamak Namazi. The hostage count of Americans now imprisoned in Iran is now five: Namazi,Washington Post journalist Jason Rezaian, Pastor Saeed Abedini, former U.S. Marine Amir Hekmati and Robert Levinson.
Khamenei’s letter indicates that he will not approve implementation of the JCPOA unless the following conditions are met:
- The U.S. and European nations must draft a letter promising to end all possibility of “sanctions snapback.”
- The West must lift — not “suspend” — all sanctions immediately and permanently.
- The International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) must issue an irreversible declaration ending any future investigation into alleged military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear programs.
- Iran will postpone any renovations at its heavy water (plutonium) reactor at Arak until the signatories of the JCPOA produce an alternative usage plan.
- Iran will not begin shipping out of country any of its enriched uranium unless the signatories agree to deliver uranium to Iran (albeit at a lower level of enrichment).
- Iran demands right to implement a phased plan of centrifuge expansion to 150,000 over a period of 15 years.
- No sanctions are to be leveled against Iran because of alleged support for terrorism or human rights violations.
- Iran must be free to explore all future advances in nuclear enrichment technology.
Giving in on any one of these demands would make the already suspect P5+1 nuclear agreement worth less than the paper it’s printed on. But Iran may believe the West will give into its demands after all, as a recent missile test by the Iranians (an acknowledged violation of the agreement) did not bring about a reassessment of the deal by the P5+1.
If the P5+1 negotiators refuse to make the changes, Iran may very well walk away from the deal because of their belief their failing economy has little to do with the international sanctions.
The proponents of this so-called “resistance economy” in Iran seem to believe the country will be aided by increased trade with Russia and China and investment from other countries — including West European ones — that no longer feel bound by the U.S.-orchestrated sanctions regime. One prominent Iranian-born economist estimates that sanctions account for only about one-fifth of the downturn in Iran’s economy during the last few years. A more significant factor in the economy’s downturn may be the continued decline in the price of oil, which accounts for the largest share of Iran’s exports and hard currency earnings. Perhaps the change felt most keenly by the individual Iranian citizen has been the impact of the plummeting decline in the purchasing power of the Rial, which lost about 80% against the dollar in the last years of the Ahmadinejad presidency.
(…) If Iran succeeds in garnering the benefits of even partial relief of sanctions, and if it attracts additional foreign investment as well as increased international commerce, it will ignore the JCPOA altogether. The only improbable question is: Will Iran walk away before or after picking up its $150 billion?
As for the Supreme Leader’s hatred of America and Obama, he is playing a passive aggressive game. On one hand there is the belief he is trying to screw up the deal just to deny Obama his legacy, but on the other hand he told a group of students earlier this week that the slogan “Death to America” was not directed at the American people, but rather at U.S. government policies.
“[The] aim of the slogan is not death to American people,” Khamenei said. “The slogan means death to U.S. policies and arrogance.” The slogan has “strong support” In Iran, he added.
However as if he was playing a passive-aggressive game,Khamenei also told the students that the U.S. would “not hesitate” to destroy Iran if given a chance.
“The nature of the U.S. attitude is continuation of the same hostile aims from the past, and the nation will not forget this,”
Anti-American sentiment is rife in Iran. As happens every year ahead of the anniversary of the embassy takeover, the Tehran municipality displays anti-American posters and billboards along the Iranian capital’s main squares and key streets.
One such billboard this year, at Tehran’s Valiasr Square, represents a mock-up of the historic, Pulitzer Prize-winning 1945 “Raising the Flag at Iwo Jima” photo by Associated Press photographer Joe Rosenthal, one of the iconic images from World War II. Except in the billboard, the hands of the Marines are stained red from blood and instead of rocks and stones, the U.S. troops are standing on a pile of corpses.
So what will happen, will the Obama administration allow Iran to walk away? Or will it make further concessions in to keep a deal which many think already allows the rogue regime to continue its plans to become a nuclear power? Sadly I am betting on the second.