A couple of weeks ago Iranian lawmakers dressed in paramilitary uniforms chanted “Death to America” as they convened for an open session of parliament after the White House designated Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a foreign terrorist organization. One may think that President Donald Trump has a unified staff behind him with respect to Iran…well think again.
Early this year, CIA Director Gina Haspel, FBI Director Christopher Wray, and Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee saying— in contradiction to President Trump—that Iran is abiding by the nuclear deal it made with the world powers in 2015. Apparently what this trio—as well as the entire European Union—failed to notice was that just a few days earlier—Iran’s nuclear chief Ali Akbar Salehi disclosed how Iran made a mockery out of the agreement, even to the point of admitting pictures of cement being poured down the Arak plutonium reactor’s core (as required by the agreement) were photoshopped. Iran did pour concrete down the pipes of the heavy water reactor, but only after procuring new replacement pipes, Salehi revealed in a January 22 interview.
Only Salehi and Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei knew there were additional pipes, but did not tell anyone else about it. Salehi also said Iran took “preliminary steps…to design modern 20 percent [nuclear] fuel and [that it is] on the threshold of producing it.” Salehi affirmed that domestic specialists will be able to keep all kinds of reactors similar to the Tehran Research Reactor running and outlined a number of ways Iran had exploited the agreement. According to retired Lt. Colonel Michael Segall, a senior analyst at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, “Iran continues with its nuclear activities unabated. Iranian leaders confess they continued with nuclear development.”
In 1987, U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the INF (intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces) Treaty with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev. But Reagan only signed the agreement after the Russians conceded certain human rights to their citizens. In contrast, the Iranian nuclear deal made allowances for Iranian human rights violations, thereby subordinating American human rights concerns to the deal.
As a consequence, instead of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the official name for the deal) serving as leverage for stability, countries in the Middle East such as Syria became a repository for dead bodies as Iran funneled its new-found money to terrorist organizations, including Hezbollah. And while the European Union and other nations condemned Trump’s decision to withdraw from the deal, their adverse judgment was clearly not out of concern for nuclear proliferation—to say nothing of human rights—but due to the fact they would have risked capital losses.
France’s trade with Iran grew 118 percent from January to October 2017, for example, (as compared to the same timeframe from the previous year). The French oil company Total concluded a $4.8 billion deal to develop the world’s largest gas field in Pars (southwest Iran) over the next 20 years. Germany gained $3.5 billion in exports to Iran in 2017. China’s trade with Iran was more than $37 billion in 2017; it exported $18.59 billion worth of goods, a growth of 13% from the previous year. Perhaps even worse, then-President Barak Hussein Obama, the “mastermind” behind the JCPOA, gave Iran brief access to the U.S. financial system despite specifically telling Congress that such access would remain banned under terms of the controversial agreement.
In contrast, U.S. sanctions, implemented after its pullout from the JCPOA, triggered mass protests throughout Iran calling for an end to their theocratic form of government. Yet, U.S. lawmakers and the EU seemed to ignore what Trump said when he announced the U.S. withdrawal from the agreement: “It has now been almost 40 years since this dictatorship seized power and took a proud nation hostage. Most of Iran’s 80 million citizens have sadly never known an Iran that prospered in peace with its neighbors and commanded the admiration of the world. But the future of Iran belongs to its people. They are the rightful heirs to a rich culture and an ancient land. And they deserve a nation that does justice to their dreams, honor to their history, and glory to God.”
Traditionally, the Shi-ite idea of jihad is intimately linked to its perceptions of historical suffering and grievances, especially in light of the Twelfth (missing) Imam, who Shi’ites believe will return during the end of times and restore Islamic world order. The (Shi’ite) Iranians hold that this Twelfth Imam can only be awakened from his trance by cataclysmic world events, which may be one of the reasons the ayatollahs are so adamant to acquire nuclear weapons.
All this being said, despite Iran’s national currency, the rial, dropping to historic lows and its flow of funds being cut off, the U.S. sanctions do not appear to be substantially effective, let alone to have coerced a change of government. Prices of international crude oil—Iran’s main export—already up 44% this year, jumped nearly 3% more. This is in part due to the U.S. granting exceptions to China, Japan, South Korea, and five other countries to buy any oil from Iran. This compelled Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to announce this past Monday that the U.S. would end sanctions waivers for countries that import Iranian oil. “Our goal has been to get countries to cease importing Iranian oil entirely. Last November, we granted exemptions from our sanctions to seven countries and to Taiwan. We did this to give our allies and partners [an opportunity] to wean themselves off of Iranian oil, and to assure a well-supplied oil market. Today I am announcing that we will no longer grant any exemptions. We’re going to zero.” If the Trump policy is going to have any efficient and constant result: keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons and halt its human rights violations—even ousting the regime—key nations, such as the United Kingdom, which continues to openly do business in Iran, have to hop on board.
N.B. This article was originally published by the Clarion Project under the title CIA: Iran Abiding by Nuke Deal. Seriously? on February 4, 2019. Final paragraph was added to update to current events.
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