My normal morning ritual allows me to take the next step in my daily routine. I read two print newspapers, and one of them is not the New York Post. The headlines and front page articles claim Bush is Toast, earth quakes are ravaging counties, Greenland is melting, and more and more of any meaningful discussion of the issue at stake in our presidential election.
When I turned to read the opinion page of the second newspaper, I realized that it has been over a week since an important pronouncement trickled out of Iran that would have been lost but for the outstanding work of Yigal Carmon and his institute, MEMRI. The ignoring of this proclamation and its non-dissemination to the American public via the national press is shameful.
On October 21, 2015, Ali Khamenei, the Iranian Supreme Leader published a letter, for the world to read. It was a “guideline” (read that word as you wish) to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, regarding the execution and implementation of the Iranian Nuclear Agreement (the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)). Not unnoticed is that the letter’s publication corresponded with the celebration of a central religious and national holiday of immense importance in Iran. In other words, his letter is meant to underline Iran’s determination and dedication against “the forces of evil”. This is no “guideline.” And it is directed at us.
Ali Khamenei, after the world had sanctioned the Iranian Nuclear deal, — bequeathed Iran millions of dollars instead of an armed attack, continues his excessive tirade against the United States. He asserts that the US government has and is pursuing an approach of hostility and disruption to his country and its interests. It is unlikely, he rages, that it will otherwise in the future. That Obama‘s real intention is to subvert Iran with open threats of military and nuclear strike. That the United States is a nation with a “never-ending hostility” toward Iran and its people. In total, “…the US regime’s enmity against the Islamic Republic is inevitable and this enmity will continue.”
Mr. Khamenei has clearly identified us as his country’s mortal enemy and concludes that the agreement that we all thought had been concluded is not yet “a done deal”. He wants more. Much more. Enough is not enough.
His first demand: that the U.S. and Europe lift the sanctions, not suspend them, and in addition demands “solid and sufficient” guarantees in advance that this will be done. These conditions constitute a total change of the JCPOA.
Second demand: Any sanctions against Iran “at every level and on every pretext,” (note the word pretext), including the claim of terrorism and human rights violations, by any one of the countries participating and a party to the Nuclear agreement, will “constitute a violation of the JCPOA” and a reason for Iran to stop executing its obligations pursuant to the Agreement. Obviously, he is looking for an excuse to cancel the Agreement after reaping the millions of dollars in rewards.
The Third demand seeks to change the Agreement’s timetable, so that Iran will not take action as stipulated in the JCPOA, and, therefore, will not meet its obligations before the sanctions are eased. Instead it commands that the sanctions must first be eliminated totally, and only then will Iran meet its obligations under the agreement.
His fourth demand: Iran’s fulfillment of its obligations regarding the purpose of Arak reactor, as stipulated by the JCPOA, will be postponed until some undetermined future date.
The fifth demand: The date for Iran to ship out its enriched uranium, as stipulated by the Nuclear Agreement, is postponed again until some unknown future date. In addition, he is now demanding that Iran receive in exchange for the enriched uranium he is releasing — not the raw uranium as agreed upon, but uranium that has been enriched but to a lower level.
The last pronouncement for our purposes is that notwithstanding the declared goals of the JCPOA agreement, he directs that Iran is to immediately expand its ability to enrich uranium with a 15-year long term objective for its centrifuges.
A thought suddenly occurred to me: On 30th September 1938, the Prime Minister of the British Empire returned from a meeting with Adolph Hitler, where he signed the Munich Agreement conceding part of the Sudetenland, a region of Czechoslovakia, to Germany. In effect, the free world buckled under Hitler’s demands. But the British Prime Minister announced to the troubled world with great fanfare as he arrived back in London: “I have returned with peace in our time.” Less than a year later, Adolf Hitler invaded Poland.
Lessons not learned haunt you in the future.
I have written in the past about the loopholes and side deals that we find in the Agreements with Iran, which bodes trouble of an immense magnitude in the future. This latest move by the supreme leader of Iran is a clear signal that he does not believe in the sanctity of an agreement and despises the west. Contracts I teaches us an agreement is only as good as the integrity of the signing parties. He has no integrity, that’s more than evident, and will not honor either the letter or spirit of the agreement. He has said so. Nothing is clearer. The question then becomes why are we playing his game and not our own? Why are we dealing with a person who seeks our destruction? We, in colloquial terms, have all the cards, why aren’t we playing them?
As I finish writing this commentary (10.29.15), a breaking news report is issued by MEMRI—Rafsanjani, it reports, has told the Iranian Supreme Leader to get out of the way of fully executing the Nuclear Agreement. In other words, I will not follow your guidelines. The two most powerful men in Iran, in facing off in one arena, might have caused their own implosion. The outcome is not clearly predictable.
One thing is clear; the nations who conducted and agreed to the JCPOA have given much more away in their desire to reach an accommodation than was prudent, necessary or safe for the United States and its allies.
Enough is enough.