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Friday, September 24, 2021

Ayatollah Does A Cyrus, And How!


After years of sanctions, sabotage and subterfuge, West withdraws the stick a little to show Iranians the carrot, reports
SAURABH KUMAR SHAHI | Issue Dated: December 15, 2013, New Delhi
Tags : Obama goes to Tehran |

Analysts are now calling it probably the best held secret in the history of diplomacy since Henry Kissinger [former US President Richard Nixon’s National Security Advisor] stole those furtive glances with Zhou Enlai [the first Premier of the People’s Republic of China] in Beijing some 40 years ago. There were a few murmurs in early March this year when American officials started meeting with their Iranian counterparts secretly in Muscat, just off Iran. However the denial followed thick and fast, and some of the journalists who had picked up the trail, dropped the chase dismissing it as just another bad day in the life of a correspondent. Both Tehran and Washington DC took a sigh of relief.

The bigger news however was how Tel Aviv and Mossad [the national intelligence agency of Israel] were kept at bay. Contrary to the popular belief, when Americans know that they have their national interest at the stake somewhere, they are always capable of putting the personal equations behind. Republicans included. However, for any such endeavour to succeed in the Arab world, one needs to have a secure place from where things don’t get leaked to Tel Aviv. And since these leakages are often done by Arabs themselves, there is precious little one can do. In fact, there was a brief scare this time too. Some imbecile Arab states got a hint from their intelligence agencies that something is going on between US and Iran in Muscat and they duly passed the intelligence to Tel Aviv. They wanted Tel Aviv to find out from their minions in DC as to what is going on in Muscat. However, either the minions failed or were part of the subterfuge themselves. Tel Aviv was duly told that things were hunky-dory. Everyone slept soundly. The first battle was won.

The process sped up when Hassan Fereydoon Rouhani [who was elected President of Iran in June 2013] won a landslide victory in the Presidential Elections later this year and set the mood and tone for bringing the budding relationship to the fore. In fact, it was a welcome surprise for the Americans. The negotiations had already started. And the spin doctors were finding it rather hard to come up with a plan to sell same the Ahmadinejad [Former President of Iran] and his administration to the American public whom they were so hell bent on destroying just months ago. Rouhani’s victory did that job for them. Here was now an Iranian president who was western educated, liberal, knew an array of foreign tongues and had a history of courageous, if futile, diplomacy behind him. It was far easier to sell him to the Americans.
And sold they did.

They had a very simple logic. Till the time Americans are amused by this new Iranian president and till the time they are convinced that they got a good deal, no one will care to notice that the deal started when Ahmadinejad was at the helm of affairs. And that is what happened.
When round three commenced in Geneva, the albatross of the previous round was still hanging from the necks of all the participants. While it was made aptly clear that French foreign ministers' last minute bidding for Tel Aviv derailed the dialogue, there were attempts in many quarters, guided by now not-so-hidden hands of Zionist lobby, to put the blame on Tehran. For the first time in decades, the Zionist endeavour in DC failed.

“Going into the last round at Geneva, I think the Iranians anticipated getting a draft from the P5+1 where they had clearly worked out understandings about how some of these contentious issues – about Arak, about the 20 percent stockpile, about some acknowledgement of Iran’s nuclear rights; the Iranians had expectations from their previous discussions about the kind of proposal they were going to see. And, basically, US and France reneged on those understandings. And so the draft proposal that went in front of Iran was different from what Foreign Minister Zarif and his team were expecting to see, and they weren’t in a position to accept that,” says Flynt Leverett, ex-Senior Director for Middle East Affairs at the National Security Council in Washington DC, who has and had, advocated diplomacy with Iran.

Let’s look at the deal first and see what it has to offer to both the parties. The first thing that one needs to keep in mind is that it is an interim agreement and that a final agreement will reflect most of the things agreed in this, and more. The idea behind this negotiation is to look for a win-win formula. The problem with previous negotiations was that there was no common ground that could be termed as a win-win scenario. There is one now. From the Iranian point of view, the “win scenario” is when the West recognises its right to enrichment enshrined in the Article 4 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and lifts the “unilateral” and “illegal” sanctions against it. From the West’s point of view, the “win scenario” is when it has the access and means to confirm that Iranian program is peaceful and it has no way of diverting it to something that has the military dimensions. The current deal addresses all of it.
Says Kaveh L. Afrasiabi, noted Iranian expert based in US, “By fettering the American-western superpower and introducing a timely check on hitherto unrestrained American action against Iran, the Geneva Accord represents a milestone in international affairs, i.e., a major plus for the post-Cold War global order still infected by the unhealthy traces of America’s ‘unipolarism’. Its significance thus goes beyond the purview of ‘opening a new diplomatic path,’ to paraphrase President Obama, and, in fact, shows the feathers of a ‘new global diplomacy’.”

There have been reactions ranging from frantic to measured to outright paranoid as far as the deal is concerned. A large section of Iranians as well as Americans have welcomed the deal. Iranians are happy that their red-line, i.e., a complete suspension of any kind of nuclear activity, has not been crossed and in a way Iran’s right of enrichment has been accepted. The Americans, by 2-to-1, support the deal as it averts another disastrous war in the Middle East, which the US most certainly would not win. Also, it lays bare the attempts by Israel to push America towards another war.

There are some measured reactions as well. These come mostly from Iranian and international analysts who take everything coming for the West with a pinch of salt and in bad faith, unless proven otherwise. And rightly so. There is a concern that the Zionist lobby in US and Europe will try to derail the interim deal by pressurising the lawmakers to go for additional sanctions against Iran. The deal clearly states that any such sanction will end the deal. However, it does have a small loophole that will be exploited by the lobby.

The paranoid ones are all coming from Tel Aviv and its new found partners in the Persian Gulf Coordination Council who are willing to go to bed with it. Expectedly, Benjamin Netanyahu [Prime Minister of Israel] and his team reacted angrily to the deal and his minions in DC started terming it as “Iran Appeasement”. The American public for the first time has started to see a pattern in what Israel does. More and more Americans have started to understand that by insisting on complete halt on any kind of enrichment including those to the level of 3.5% and 5%, Israel basically wants the talks to fail and wants America to fight another war for it. It is because of this public support for diplomacy that Obama administration managed to grow a pair and take on the Zionist lobby face to face.

“I don't think this is anything but a short term arrangement arrived by what are still highly competitive parties engaged in rough and tumble negotiations that can still fail at any time, and I believe strongly that the reason why US accepted this deal is because the Russians and Chinese were starting to complain and the integrity of the P5+1 was at stake. But the most significant victory here is not in the details of the agreement itself but in the very fact that by sitting across from Iran and reaching a deal, any deal, the ground has shifted. The greater victory for Iran is in that the US has now recognized Iran not as a ‘rogue state’ but as a legitimate nation, which it has to deal with diplomatically as with other nations, regardless of the rhetoric of ‘all options on the table’. As for unhappy Israel, one of their minions once expressed the true fear of the Israelis, which was not that Iran would nuke Israel and ‘kill all the Jews’ with their ‘flying holocaust chambers’ (and other such dramatic blatant lies cooked up by the Israeli propaganda machine), but that Iran would be deemed by US to be a legitimate entity and thus competitor to Israel. Well, you warmongers, your nightmares have come true,” says Iranian negotiation expert Cyrus Safdari.

The deal also breaks a lot of stereotypes around Iran and the Iranians. Since decades, the media in the West, with more than a little help from their friends in Tel Aviv, has tried to portray Iranians as mad Mullahs who will always choose disastrous and self destructive path over sanity. The case in point is a headline by Israeli newspaper Maariv, dated as early as April 1984, that claims: “Iran is just months away from Nuclear Bomb”. Yes, you read it right, April 1984. The paranoia had been carefully manufactured all long. Also, pundits in the West will now have to accept the Iranian political system as what it is. They will now have to make up their minds whether they think Iranian Presidents do have real power vested in them, or not. If not, then why would one credit Rouhani and not Khamenei [Ali Hosseini Khamenei – the current Supreme Leader of Iran]? Or why take anything that Ahmadinejad said seriously, if Khamenei categorically said Iranians are not, and will not seek a nuclear bomb?
If yes, then why don’t they consider the Iranian political system as legitimate, and American system as legitimate, considering as we speak it is American President who is not willing to write down in stone if he will be able to reverse sanctions against the wishes of the Congress? But we must not amuse ourselves much. Such moral dilemmas have seldom stopped Western journalists and pundits from making wild unsubstantiated claims about Iran. Claims which could have cost them their jobs several times over had they so much as insinuated them towards any other country in the world.

The deal also justifies what the Ahmadinejad administration did during its tenure in the last eight years. In 2003, during the Paris Declaration, a Rouhani-led team had unilaterally suspended all the enrichments for two years in order to make the West believe that it is not making a bomb. Iran had less than 200 centrifuges then. The West renegades on its deal under US pressure. Today, Iran has more than 19,000 centrifuges spinning. And it will still enrich till 5% after the deal is implemented. No prize for guessing who offered Rouhani and his team the stick to beat the US and the West.

As political analyst and Iran watcher Susan Nevans aptly puts, “In regards to Ahmadinejad, I have one thing to say, borrowing from John Kerry. In addressing why US decided on diplomacy at the eleventh hour, Kerry responded that it was in the interest of US to sit at the negotiating table with Iran, because US lost that chance in 2003 and the consequence translated in Iran’s centrifuges increasing from less than 160 to 19,000! It is indeed needless to say that Ahmadinejad’s government had a lot to do with US and the West’s desire to ‘negotiate’.”

Let’s come to what Iran had to let go. The most important of the concessions is its willingness to do away with 20% enrichment. Also, the total amount of enriched 20% Uranium needs to be neutralised or converted to other forms from where reconversion will be extremely difficult if not outrightly impossible. For the record, even the Iran nuclear deal that was brokered by Turkey and Brazil (one that US and its allies dismissed), had these two conditions and more. In that deal, the enriched 20% Uranium was to be swapped with fuel for reactor at a neutral venue outside Iran. This time, the fuel remains in Iran. Also, as far as converting it to other forms is concerned, even before the negotiation, Iran had started converting some quantity of access fuel into yellowcakes, a form which can only be converted back to weapon grade Uranium with much difficulty. That should have been some indication that Iran does not want to pursue military intentions.

Another big issue (at least that is how US media played it) is disabling the Arak facility. This one is bordering hilarious. Iran is yet to complete the reactor so it was never a threat anyway. What is functional is its Heavy Water Production facility, which any science student (with IQ above the room temperature) knows is not threatening in itself. Unless of course, you are an Israeli named Meir Javedanfar.

Iran allowed the IAEA to take a look inside its Arak facility. No harm done.
The concessions given to Iran are not much at this juncture. However, if the interim deal stays and final negotiations start, matters will get rosier. .

A word for Barack Obama and John Kerry. Both have shown enormous courage in the face of extreme pressure and intense lobbying. It was not easy. And to add, their work is not over. It has just started. Zionist lobby and its supporters in both the parties will go an extra mile to derail this. How to stop that will be their biggest test. The ball, for all practical purposes, is now in US’ court. And it is there in full public view. If they falter, the stigma will remain forever. If they prevail, the phrase “Obama goes to Tehran” could well replace “Nixon goes to China”.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017