Monday, December 14, 2015

Power Struggle Between Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's Ideological Camp And Rafsanjani's Pragmatic Camp Intensifies – Part I - MEMRI



by A. Savyon and Y. Carmon

Part I: Khamenei Blocks Iran's Implementation Of The JCPOA


Introduction
In advance of the February 2016 elections in Iran for both the Majlis and the Assembly of Experts, and in light of Hashemi Rafsanjani's November 25, 2015 announcement that he will run for the Assembly of Experts, the power struggle between the pragmatic camp, which Rafsanjani leads, and the ideological camp, led by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, has intensified. It now centers on two main focal points:


1. Khamenei's blocking of Iran's implementation of the JCPOA. After Khamenei halted the implementation of the JCPOA in his October 21, 2015 letter to Iranian President Hassan Rohani,[1]  all the representatives of the regime announced their support for Khamenei's instructions; even President Rohani and Foreign Minister Javad Zarif were compelled to do so. The only one to speak out against this was Rafsanjani, who called on the regime to carry out its obligations under the JCPOA.[2]


2. The Iranian regime's circling the wagons against both the "American enemy" and against the "new fitna" within Iran – that is, the Rafsanjani camp which is calling for openness vis-à-vis the U.S. and for Iran to implement the JCPOA.[3]  The regime activity against the U.S. and the "new fitna" gives the ideological camp leverage over the pragmatic camp. The ideological camp is playing this up in advance of the elections and hinting that the outcome of the last presidential election, in 2013, was a grave failure that must not be allowed to happen again. The Khamenei-affiliated daily Kayhan is even preparing for the possibility that Rafsanjani's pragmatic camp will again triumph in the elections, and stated that such a development would be counter to the Islamic Revolution and its values, and must be prevented.

This first report in a two-part series on the aspects of this power struggle will focus on Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's blocking of Iran's implementation of the JCPOA. The forthcoming report will focus on the Iranian regime's promotion of its anti-U.S. stance and its stance against the "new fitna" within Iran.

MEMRI has published nearly two dozen reports on the power struggle between the Khamenei and Rafsanjani camps.

Khamenei Blocks Iran's Implementation Of The JCPOA

On October 21, 2015, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei issued nine conditions countermanding the original language of the JCPOA as it was presented on July 14, 2015.[4]  All regime officials, including pragmatic camp members such as President Rohani and Foreign Minister Zarif, immediately announced their acceptance of Khamenei's new conditions – except for Hashemi Rafsanjani, who was the only one to speak out against Khamenei and called on Iran to implement its obligations under the JCPOA.[5]

Elements connected to the negotiating team and the Rafsanjani camp, among them Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) director Ali Akbar Salehi and Expediency Council secretary Ali Shamkhani, attempted to create the impression of first steps to implement the JCPOA by transferring older-generation centrifuges that were already inactive from one site to another.

However, they were stopped immediately by Majlis members and others from the ideological camp.[6]  Negotiating team members from Rafsanjani's pragmatic camp were forced to state that thus far, no active centrifuges had been dismantled. On November 25, 2015, nuclear negotiating team member and Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told Iranian TV of the measures Iran had taken to meet its JCPOA commitments, saying that "none of Iran's steps on this matter so far contradict the Leader's letter... As far as I know, we are still in the phase of dismantling the inactive centrifuges."[7]

On November 14, 2015, AEOI director Ali Akbar Salehi told Iranian Channel 3 TV: "The centrifuges that were dismantled were not active and did not enrich uranium... Now, we are dealing with the dismantling of centrifuges, and we began this two weeks ago, according to the orders from the Office of the President that we have undertaken and to the timetable. At Fordo, there are a few centrifuges, that is, 1,000-2,000; at the last minute, we will collect some 1,000 centrifuges from Fordo. So far, no centrifuges from Fordo have been dismantled; we have merely prepared the ground for dismantling [centrifuges]. What has been dismantled so far were inactive centrifuges at Natanz."[8]

On November 3, 2015, AEOI spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi said: "We will advance the work in a way that will be in accordance with the principles and guidelines of the Leader... Not a single centrifuge has been dismantled yet; at this point, we are at the preparatory stage."[9]  Several days later, he said that Iran would begin to dismantle active centrifuges immediately after the Iranian PMD (Possible Military Dimensions) dossier is closed by the IAEA Board of Governors,[10]  explaining: "Now we are dismantling the inactive centrifuges; there are more of them than there are active centrifuges." He noted that there are now only about 3,000 active  centrifuges and about 10,000 that have not been active for several years, and added: "The [active] centrifuges will be dismantled at the same time as [Iran carries out the steps to which it is obligated under the JCPOA at] the Arak reactor and as our enriched uranium is replaced with yellowcake.[11]

Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif: The Superpowers Must Meet All Their Obligations Before Iran Implements Its Own

At a November 29, 2015 joint press conference with his Greek counterpart, Foreign Minister Zarif stated that Iran's implementation of the JCPOA could begin only after the IAEA Board of Governors closes Iran's PMD dossier.[12] He then added a completely new demand: that the P5+1 carry out at least some of its obligations under the JCPOA even before Iran carries out its own. Zarif added that the Iranians were currently conducting talks with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other American officials on this matter.

Iran's presentation of this demand is an essential violation of the language of the agreed version of the JCPOA, which states that Iran must first implement its part in order to reach Implementation Day, and that only then, and concurrently with IAEA verification that Iran has indeed met its obligations, will the P5+1 begin carrying out its obligations with regard to the sanctions.

The following are the main points of Zarif's statements:

Asked what progress has been made with regard to Khamenei's demand, in his letter to President Rohani, for a direct letter from Europe and the U.S. to Iran on the issue of the removal of the sanctions, he replied: "Europe and the U.S. are obligated to remove the sanctions the day the JCPOA is implemented – that is, the U.S. must carry out steps on the day of the decision – i.e. [by Implementation Day] the U.S. and the E.U. must carry out these steps in certain ways.

"The process of implementation by the oversight team has already begun. This does not mean that the action taken by the U.S. and the E.U., and which should yield results by Implementation Day, are sufficient. We believe that the U.S. must continue to implement steps until Implementation Day. The U.S. president has ordered the energy secretary, secretary of state, and commerce secretary to carry out their obligations, and that they take all steps necessary to implement the U.S.'s obligations. The President of the United States ordered them to carry out their obligations and that prior to Implementation Day [of the JCPOA] these obligations must be implemented. On this matter, we are holding talks with the American secretary of state and other American elements [emphasis added]."[13]

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iran Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

Endnotes:

[1]  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[2]  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015.

[3]  This fitna and its members were described clearly by Majlis National Security and Foreign Policy committee member Ahmad Bakhshayesh: "The Leader speaks of [American] infiltration and warns the officials. The Leader's [warning] was addressed mainly to elements of the regime wishing to create ties with the U.S.... In our country there are two lines of thought: One is resistance to the arrogance [meaning the U.S.], championed by the Leader; and the second is ties with the U.S. like with any other country without fear of infiltration, which is championed by Hashemi Rafsanjani and President Rohani." Fars (Iran), November 15, 2015.

[4]  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1196, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei's Letter Of Guidelines To President Rohani On JCPOA Sets Nine Conditions Nullifying Original Agreement Announced July 14, 2015, October 22, 2015.

[5]  For Rafsanjani's statements, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis Report No. 1204, Breaking Report: Challenging Khamenei, Rafsanjani Demands That Iran Fulfill Its Obligations Under The JCPOA, And Reveals: We Had Nuclear Option In Iran-Iraq War, October 28, 2015. For Iran's commitments, as outlined by the Arms Control Association, see MEMRI Daily Brief No. 65, MEMRI: 'The Emperor Has No Clothes', October 30, 2015.

[6]  See, for example, the statement by Alizera Zakani, head of the Majlis special committee to examine the JCPOA, who said that reducing the number of centrifuges at nuclear sites violated the first condition of Khamenei's letter. According to him, this improper step triggered a warning, and subsequently the action was halted, at least at Fordo. Mehr (Iran), November 8, 2015.

[7]  ISNA (Iran), November 25, 2015.

[8]  IRNA (Iran), November 14, 2015.

[9]  ISNA (Iran), November 3, 2015.

[10]  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano's Report On The PMD Of Iran's Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA's PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[11]  Kayhan (Iran), November 11, 2015.

[12]  See MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No. 1207, The Prospects For JCPOA Implementation Following The Release Of IAEA Sec-Gen Amano's Report On The PMD Of Iran's Nuclear Program, December 8, 2015; and MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6229, Statements By Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi Indicate: IAEA's PMD Report Is Being Written In Negotiation With Iran, Not Independently, November 27, 2015.

[13]  ISNA (Iran), November 29, 2015.



A. Savyon and Y. Carmon

Source: http://www.memri.org/report/en/0/0/0/0/0/0/8892.htm

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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