Home > Uncategorized > The JPOA and the Facets of the Iranian Regime’s Hardline Policy

The JPOA and the Facets of the Iranian Regime’s Hardline Policy

IRI Constitution

Rogue States is a term applied to States that are considered threatening to the World’s peace. This means meeting certain criteria, such as being ruled by authoritarian regimes that seek to proliferate weapons of mass destruction, sponsor terrorism, and severely restrict human rights. The regime of Iran, as such, is considered as a rogue State on top of being a theocratic (Islamic) system. Three decades of nuclear development in Iran has been an issue of international concern in the interests of regional and global security. About a decade diplomatic initiatives by P5+1 to resolve the Iranian nuclear issue have led to the in-progress signing a comprehensive agreement, known as Joint Plan Of Action (JPOA) with two extensions, requiring Iran to suspend many aspects of its nuclear program in exchange for relief from some international sanctions, yet no prospective legally binding instrument that would ensure Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful has been attainable.

On February 19, 2015 the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released its report on the implementation of the NPT safeguards agreement in Iran and the status of Iran’s compliance with United Nation Security Council resolutions. According to this report no progress has been achieved on resolving the IAEA’s concerns about the possible existence of undisclosed nuclear associated activities involving military related organizations, including activities connected to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile. Suspicious activities continue at the Parchin military site. The IAEA Agency asserts that it will not be in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran unless and until Iran provides the necessary cooperation with the Agency, including by implementing its signed Additional Protocol to the NPT safeguards agreement. Contrary to the relevant resolutions of IAEA Board of Governors and the seven resolutions of Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities. Iran is also moving to institute a scrap recovery capability to recover the near-20% low enrichment uranium (LEU) it has already converted; this new capability poses a challenge to the extension agreement of the JPOA. Iran has also increased the rate of feeding of natural uranium hexafluoride into its advanced centrifuges at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant (PFEP). Also work on all heavy water related projects has not been suspended, which is in contrast with the measures of the Framework of Cooperation (FFC).

IAEA safeguards serve as an early warning mechanism, aimed at verifying that Iran is abiding by their international obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Despite having spent years in the country, the IAEA is still unable to verify the correctness and completeness of the information Tehran has provided. The P5+1 make use of the tools international law and diplomacy to deal with the rogue state of Iran. It is acknowledged that diplomacy is most effective when it accords with the norms of international law. Iran, under JPOA, is given ground on uranium enrichment, plutonium development and missile technology, and above all its bankrupt economy is helped to its knees. A question P5+1 should ask themselves is that if Iranian regime is genuine in its peaceful intentions, then why it has adopted a hardline stance toward taking measures to build confidence? And subsequently resorting to rebuffing the underlying concepts of normal international laws and established diplomacy? The answer is multifaceted, which is entrenched in the regime’s ideological vision of its policy that has forged its strategic interests.

Shiites believe in the need for divine authority in this world. Under Khomeini-ism, only clerical rule in accordance with Shiite law can create just government in the absence of the Prophet and the imams. The Islamic Republic of Iran (IRI) has exclusively adopted Sharia as its foundation for political institution and laws. Article 2 of the Iran’s constitution describes that the Islamic Republic is a system based on belief in: a. The One God (“There is no God except Allah”), and his exclusive sovereignty and right to legislate, b. Divine revelation and its fundamental role in setting the laws.

In other words, the legislations or laws on all matters have to be examined and compared to the word of God before their approval.  Article 4 of the constitution asserts that all civil, penal, financial, economic, administrative, cultural, military, political, and other laws and regulations must be based on Islamic criteria. Iranian regime is a theocracy that mixes religion and state, as such Shiite Islam and politics are inseparable. The system demands blind public obedience to its mixed customary-theocratic laws inside the country, however exercising authority at an international political arena, on an Islamic-law basis, can only bring about the regime humiliation and giving rise to its global seclusion.

An illustration of such assessment is the statement given by the permanent representative of Iran to the UN in 1984 in response to criticism on the Iranian regime’s human rights violations (Islamic fundamentalism – Human rights controversy):

Iran recognized no authority […] apart from Islamic law. […] Conventions, declarations and resolutions or decisions of international organizations which were contradictory to Islam, had no validity in the Islamic Republic of Iran. […]

The theocratic IRI’s view of international law is a notion that is used to reject and undermine the general applicability of international law because it cannot comply to civil development of law, but with an interpretation of will of God as set out in its Islamic scripture. Divine laws are independent of the will of man and cannot be used to measure the civil laws, a facet of the uncompromising regime’s policy. It is its divine rule under which Iran’s regime has compiled a dreadful human rights record at home. Like ISIS, the regime shows disdain for human life. The mass executions by the ISIS on battlefield are not more substantial than the regime’s prisons or public hanging on Iran’s streets, where activism and peaceful organizing can make a person subject to the death penalty on arbitrary charges as “Waging War against God”.

In January 2014 president of Iranian regime, Hassan Rouhani, made his debut at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, by persuading investors and reassuring political leaders of his determination to complete a comprehensive nuclear deal with the major powers. Rouhani’s charm offensive is just an empty rhetoric. He is aware of the fact that he can sign any legislation, treaties, protocols, contracts and agreements concluded by the Iranian government with other governments or international organizations only after obtaining the approval of first the Islamic Consultative Assembly and then the Council of Guardians for thorough examination and approval according to the Islamic values and the constitution. The reality is that Rouhani, even if he was sincere in his intention, does not have the authority to negotiate a deal on Iran’s nuclear program; his more moderate guise is nothing but a tactic to fend off new sanctions to attract investors to Iran, and to buy some time for Iran to continue to develop its nuclear program. The regime has been pursuing the campaign of slow obliteration against the Iranian people to maintain power and drown out dissent while it simultaneously tries to hypocritically present a new image of moderation towards the international community.

Another facet of the regime’s hardline policy is hidden under the word “democracy”. It is this word that frightens the regime, to Mullahs just the thought of any kind of bridging to the West ethos would send chills down their spines, any cultural ties with the West would shake the pillars of their theocracy that can put an end to their rein of power. To regime the success of the nuclear agreement can provide the stepping-stones peripherals required in opening its more than 3-decades closed doors to modern western civilization in particular of the United States. The regime knows that eventually in due course, other issues, such as human rights, sponsoring terrorism will be addressed in the context of the ongoing nuclear talks. That is why the theocratic Iran’s foreign policy cannot allow the acceptance of the norms governing today’s international systems. However, once the regime becomes a nuclear power as with North Korea, it can use it as leverage to confront any, to its view, possible threat of a democratic change. The Iranian constitution’s preamble states that Iran must spread its Islamic revolution. Iran’s nuclear weapons program is just one part of its expansionist regional project, which now boasts control of four Arab capitals – Baghdad, Beirut, Damascus, and Sanaa. The Shiite theocracy in Iran intends to become the dominant power in the Islamic Middle East.

Per the estimate of  Matthew Kroenig, a senior fellow at Atlantic Council, regardless of the outcome of the nuclear talk, at present, assuming no external interferences, Iran could breakout (capable to produce weapons-grade uranium, WGU) in two to three months and possesses a nuclear warhead in an additional one month to one year. In other words, Iran is already a latent nuclear power (i.e., capable to produce nuclear weapons on short order should it decide to do so).

Since 1984 Iran has remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism. Iran’s financial and logistic support for terrorist and militant groups throughout the Middle East and Central Asia had a direct impact on international efforts to promote peace and democracy. The Quds Force, the external operations branch of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), is the regime’s primary mechanism for cultivating and supporting terrorists abroad. Despite its pledge to support the stabilization of Iraq, Iranian authorities continued to provide lethal support, including weapons, training, funding, and guidance, to Iraqi Shia militant groups that target U.S. and Iraqi forces. A decision to permit enrichment in Iran, even if the latent-nuclear-power Iran refrains from building nuclear weapons, could lead to Iranian transfers of uranium enrichment technology or material to state or non-state actors, which would pose potential threats to international peace and security. We are living in the peak of terrorist activities, we are experiencing the terrible consequences and none could imagine what might happen if terrorists decide to use nuclear materials against a country. The outcome is a disastrous nuclear proliferation. This is where I call it blind spot of the comprehensive agreement; the requirement for an agreement to be considered legally binding is that parties must knowingly understand what they are agreeing to. How can we even expect that a rogue State such as Iran with ideological vision, which has forged its strategic interests, to be signed into a contract on the basis of existing customary international law. More importantly, can such a signature provide the necessary assurance that the regime abides by its terms?

The other concern about such decision to permit enrichment in Iran would be the raising alarm in setting a new standard for future regional peaceful nuclear energy programs, which will further obscure the prospect of the nuclear management in the region.

It would be naïve to trust Mullahs’ pledges to come clean on their nuclear activities. The regime of Iran does whatever it takes to become a nuclear-armed State, from act of terrorism abroad, to disdain human life at home, and meddling in the neighboring countries, to forge and fabricate the facts, but above all make use of Shiite doctrine of deceit call “Taqiyya” which is the Shiite religious rationale for concealment or dissimulation in political affairs, another facet to the hardline policy of the regime. “Befriend people on the surface, and keep your grudges and intentions hidden,” Shiite teaching advises. There are two different value systems at work here, the policies of the West and of the IAEA that are driven by the concept of transparency based on international norms and standards as a key doctrine of modernity and modern states, and the one from Mullahs’ perspective, “nuclear” taqiyya, which is a must and can easily undermine and discredit the results of the investigation by the West and the outcome wouldn’t be anything less than nuclear-armed Mullahs.

The process of enriching uranium or producing plutonium is considered as large industrial project, which can be easily detected by intelligence agencies or the UN-IAEA inspections. But the next phase, assembling the enriched materials into a bomb and building the actual warhead can be done in a very small space, inside a single room at some clandestine location and is almost impossible to detect. The IAEA Agency asserts that it will not be in a position to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran unless and until Iran provides the necessary cooperation with the Agency, including by implementing its signed Additional Protocol to the NPT safeguards agreement. The preeminent question concerning Iranian compliance is that how much confidence can we have that the Mullahs will not press ahead with their nuclear program in clandestine facilities, as they have done in the past? And if they do press ahead, how much confidence can we have that our intelligence agencies will catch them in due course?

For more than 20 years, Iranian regime has violated IAEA safeguard agreements, developed covert nuclear facilities, and sought to mislead the West about the scope and pace of its activities. As the American people weigh the value of an agreement with a regime that has a consistent record of cheating on international accords—not to mention lying, inciting hatred, terrorizing, and murdering—they would do well to understand that if the agreement is violated, we may not find out until it is far too late to rectify our oversight, for at that point, Iran will already have achieved its terrible goal.

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Mansur Rastani, PhD

March 03, 2015

The article has been initially published in Family Security Matters.

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