Iran’s hypocrisy on revival of nuclear deal
While the former Iranian administration under President Hassan Rouhani appeared to be interested in coming to the negotiating table to discuss the revival of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, the government of new President Ebrahim Raisi seems to place other priorities at the top of its foreign policy agenda. It is delaying the nuclear talks while making excessive and irrational demands.
After the Biden administration assumed office in January, six rounds of negotiations were concluded with the Rouhani administration in an attempt to resurrect the 2015 nuclear deal. Nevertheless, the talks between the Islamic Republic and the P5+1 world powers yielded no tangible results.
And since the hard-liner Raisi assumed the presidency in August, the US and EU have been having difficulty bringing the Iranian regime back to the negotiating table, all while the theocratic establishment lectures the P5+1 on how the nuclear negotiations ought to be conducted and what the terms of the deal must be.
After a long period of waiting, the Islamic Republic recently announced that it would return to the nuclear talks at the end of November. But the Iranian regime then warned that its demands — including that Washington must guarantee it will never abandon the pact — must be met, otherwise the talks will fail. The head of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said in a tweet: “The U.S. President, lacking authority, is not ready to give guarantees. If the current status quo continues, the result of negotiations is clear.”
Clearly, the Iranian regime is making demands that cannot be met. For example, Biden cannot give any guarantees to the Iranian regime on what the policy of the next administration will be concerning the nuclear deal. Furthermore, what if the regime was caught violating the nuclear deal? Shouldn’t the next US president be able to pull the country out of the pact and reimpose sanctions?
The Iranian regime is playing the victim card. But the Biden administration must remind the theocratic establishment that, even though the Iranian leaders guaranteed they would comply with the terms of the nuclear deal in 2015, evidence shows they were violating it even before the Trump administration withdrew in 2018.
The regime has warned that its unrealistic demands must be met, otherwise the talks will fail.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
For example, one of the most basic requirements of the JCPOA was that Iran had to reveal its nuclear activities to the International Atomic Energy Agency — a condition that it overtly failed to comply with. Two nonpartisan organizations based in Washington — the Institute for Science and International Security and the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies — released detailed reports, before the Trump administration withdrew from the deal, about Iran’s undeclared clandestine nuclear facilities, which were in violation of the nuclear agreement. At the same time, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged the IAEA to immediately inspect an “atomic warehouse” in Iran, all while the regime was benefiting from the lifting of sanctions and claiming that it was in compliance with the nuclear deal.
The IAEA at first ignored the reports. This should not come as a surprise, as it has a long history of missing the Islamic Republic’s noncompliance with the deal. For instance, Iran’s clandestine nuclear sites at Natanz and Arak were revealed not by the IAEA but by opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
After a significant amount of pressure was imposed on the IAEA, and after Iran was reportedly able to move the suspect materials, an inspection of the secret nuclear facility flagged by Netanyahu took place. Even though it had been cleaned up, the IAEA’s inspectors were still able to detect traces of radioactive uranium at the site.
Later, two more locations were identified where clandestine nuclear activities had been taking place. But the Iranian leaders did not respond to the alleged violations and the international community did not pressure Tehran to answer the alarming questions raised by the UN nuclear watchdog.
As IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi reported to a June board meeting in Vienna: “After many months, Iran has not provided the necessary explanation for the presence of the nuclear material particles at any of the three locations where the agency has conducted complementary accesses (assessments). In the absence of such an explanation from Iran, I am deeply concerned that nuclear material has been present at the three undeclared locations in Iran and that the current locations of this nuclear material are not known by the agency.”
The Iranian leaders cannot make excessive and irrational demands or lecture the world on the nuclear deal while their nuclear file is filled with clandestine activities, deception and lies.
- Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh