Friday, July 11, 2014

Kerry Admits: Iran Negotiations Not Working

by Majid Rafizadeh

In less than two weeks, the interim nuclear deal will expire, most likely without a final deal being struck between the Islamic Republic of Iran and the G5+1 (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany).

The Islamic Republic has been given years to come clean and halt its ideological and regional hegemonic ambitions of obtaining nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the Obama administration believes that we need to give the Islamic Republic another chance, trusting the ruling clerics and the theocracy.

The Ayatollah and Mullahs were given that chance, six months of negotiations, and sanctions relief in oil, metal, and financial sectors— including the flow of billions of dollars to their regime.

Secretary of State John Kerry wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post on Tuesday, pointing out that Iranian leaders have not yet made serious decisions although they have been engaged in the negotiations. Kerry wrote, “What will Iran choose? Despite many months of discussion, we don’t know yet. We do know that substantial gaps still exist between what Iran’s negotiators say they are willing to do and what they must do to achieve a comprehensive agreement. We also know that their public optimism about the potential outcome of these negotiations has not been matched, to date, by the positions they have articulated behind closed doors.”

What Kerry is saying is simple: Iran has been buying time and fooling us. It would have been much more sincere if Kerry would have made a straightforward statement, admitting that the Obama administration’s policies towards Iran’s nuclear defiance have failed. Kerry should have frankly said: The Islamic Republic of Iran is buying time to reach breakout nuclear capacity and obtain nuclear bombs, and they have been tricking us for decades.

Kerry appears to be pleading with the Islamic Republic to reach a final nuclear deal while attempting to give the nation a plentitude of incentives. For instance, Kerry wrote:
If Iran is able to make these choices, there will be positive outcomes for the Iranian people and for their economy. Iran will be able to use its significant scientific know-how for international civil nuclear cooperation. Businesses could return to Iran, bringing much needed investment, jobs and many additional goods and services. Iran could have greater access to the international financial system. The result would be an Iranian economy that begins to grow at a significant and sustainable pace, boosting the standard of living among the Iranian population.
In case a final nuclear deal is reached, why would the Secretary of State desire that a theocratic Islamist state— which is ranked the top in human rights abuses, gender discrimination, corruption, dictatorship, lack of freedom of speech, press, and assemble, oppressiveness, and the list goes— join the global economy and “have greater access to the international financial system”? Where are our values of respecting democracy, human rights, freedom of speech, press and civil liberties? Why would the Obama administration desire to strengthen the Islamic Republic— the ruthless cleric leaders, the Revolutionary Guard Corps, Shiite militia groups like the Basij, and subsequently Hezbollah, Hamas— by boosting their economy? How will he respond to millions of Iranian women and young people who are fighting against this Islamist theocracy? While many Iranian people view the United States as a model for democracy, what kind of message is John Kerry sending to these citizens? That we do not care about you?

What should the United States do if the negotiations failed? What policies should the Obama administration carry out in order to protects US citizens, preserve its national, strategic, geopolitical and economic interests as well as to support its regional allies, primarily Israel, from an Islamist state armed with nuclear weapons?

In his op-ed, Kerry answered this question: “If Iran is not ready to do so, international sanctions will tighten and Iran’s isolation will deepen.”

But is Kerry serious about this message? Absolutely not.

Based on the Obama administration’s policies, here is what is going to occur: If the negotiations between the Islamic Republic and the G5+1 failed, the Obama administration is going to push the international community to extend the interim nuclear deal. This means that the Mullahs and Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei will score a victory. In other words, they will have more time to buy with more worthless negotiations, and they will have the required time to obtain the nuclear bomb.

Finally, thanks to Kerry and President Obama, whether a final nuclear deal is reached or not, the Islamist clerics and Iranian leaders come out as winners. If a final nuclear deal is reached, the deal is going to be a flimsy one that will leave a path for the Islamic Republic to obtain nuclear weapons, and Iran will be able to join the international economic system, pushing for their ideological and regional hegemonic power. If a final nuclear deal is not reached, the Islamic Republic will be able to buy more time through the extension and achieve its objectives as well.

Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-American political scientist and scholar, is president of the International American Council and serves on the board of the Harvard International Review at Harvard University. Rafizadeh is also a senior fellow at the Nonviolence International Organization based in Washington, DC and is a member of the Gulf project at Columbia University. He can be reached at Follow Dr. Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


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