Third Round of Nuclear Talks: Ignoring the Threats

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 rafizadeh@fas.harvard.edu. Follow Rafizadeh at @majidrafizadeh.


Mideast-Iran-Leader-v_Horo-e1372334994569-635x357This week, another agreement was reached between the Ayatollahs, the ruling leaders in Islamic Republic of Iran, and the P5+1 (the US, Russia, France, China, Britain and Germany). Iran and the P5+1 launched the third round of nuclear negotiations with expert-level talks in Geneva in an attempt to discuss the mechanisms and platforms for implementing Tehran’s Joint Plan of Action, the interim and temporary nuclear deal reached in November.

This round of nuclear talks were conducted in one day, and did not address Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities, its underground nuclear site, or the level, scope and sophistication of Tehran’s R&D of advanced centrifuges. These talks also did not discuss Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and its heavy water reactors. A positive image was portrayed to the world though, by the Iranian media and other liberal mainstream outlets.

Several news agencies in Iran, including the Fars news agency, reported this week that Iranian officials claimed to have made progress, reaching an understanding with the six world powers on the details and nuances of how to implement the provisional nuclear deal.

In addition, Iran’s semi-official ISNA news agency, recently released a report quoting Hamid Baidinejad, a nuclear negotiator, as saying that Iran and the P5+1 had “achieved mutual understanding on implementation [of] the nuclear deal.”  According to the report, Baidinejad also said that the deal will likely be implemented in late January. Additionally, Iran’s lead negotiator Abbas Araqchi made announcements reported by the official news agency IRNA as stating, “The two sides have made good progress on different issues.” These comments came after the third round of nuclear negotiations that took just one day in Geneva.

From the current political perspective of the ruling clerics, Iranian officials, and liberal leaders, it is crucial to be prompt in depicting these negotiations as positive and progressive, as these types of verbal agreements and projections of advancement are key to Iran’s ability to regain its economic standing, and to strengthen the prospect of political survival of the establishment. For liberal leaders, this will give them the excuse to not take serious action.

It should be optimistic news for the Ayatollahs, that Iran has already gained almost 20 percent of its currency back in just the last seven months (since Hassan Rouhani assumed office). While one US dollar equaled approximately 31,000 Rial a few months ago, the currency exchange is now about 24,100 Rial.  Before Rouhani came to office, the exchange rate had even reached to around 40,500 Rial to the US dollar. Several business sectors are also showing improvement, with increasing sales and profits.

Tehran has also been capable of improving its economy by bolstering its trade ties, particularly regarding its oil industry, with nations such as China and India along with other Asian countries, as a result of the projections of progress from nuclear negotiations.

While the Obama administration attempts to depict the Iranian leaders as trustful players, this week hardliners staged rallies around Iran to reinforce their dominance and power, essentially playing good cop/bad cop. This was conducted in cooperation with the moderates and other Iranian political parties to pressure the P5+1.  This also marks the fourth anniversary of what is considered in Iran as the hardliners’ Islamist victory over other groups regarding Ahmadinejad’s reelection.  The loyalists around the country chanted “death to seditionists,” “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” Furthermore, according to local media outlets, this week the hardliner Ayatollah Ahmad Khatami gave a speech in the city of Kerman, stating, “The seditionists should know that the playing arena is not open to them.”

Additionally, in the Majlis (Iranian parliament), lawmakers have proposed a bill to enrich uranium up to 60 percent, going beyond the current level agreed upon between Iran and the P5+1.

This level of nuclear enrichment can produce bomb-grade nuclear material. This bill was introduced by approximately 105 lawmakers, with a “double urgency” status that calls for the bill to be discussed in parliament within a week of introduction. According to the website of Iran’s Press TV, hardline lawmaker Mehdi Mousavinejad stated that this bill “If approved, will oblige the government to… enrich uranium to 60 percent level in order to provide fuel for submarine engines if the sanctions are tightened and Iran’s nuclear rights are ignored (by major powers).”

These acts by Iranian leaders are being overlooked by President Barack Obama, other liberal leaders, and mainstream media outlets. These political moves indicate that no matter how rational and genuine Iranian Mullahs and Ayatollahs are depicted, any nation should be cautious in trusting the underlying infrastructure of the Islamic Republic of Iran. For the last decades, the fundamentals of the nation have been based on the Ayatollah Khomeini, Khamenei, and other Iranian leaders’ ideals of anti-Americanism.

What About the Recent Persecution of Minorities in Iran? 

Rather than the effort that President Obama is putting forward in Iran, projecting Iran’s nuclear program as trustful, and Iranian leaders as rational actors, it would actually be helpful and humane if President Obama would condemn Iran for its recent intensified campaign to persecute minorities and converts.

Today, the US Senate unanimously approved a resolution sponsored by Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), condemning the Iranian regime’s continued persecution of its Baha’i minority. But what about President Obama? Will he take a stand on this issue?

The bipartisan resolution, which condemns the Iranian regime for its state-sponsored persecution of those who practice Baha’i Faith, urges President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to identify and designate those Iranian officials who are directly responsible for such human rights abuses and egregious violations. The resolution also calls on the Iranian regime to release Baha’i political prisoners.

According to the 2013 U.S. Commission on the International Religious Freedom Report, “During the past year, the already poor religious freedom conditions continued to deteriorate, especially for religious minorities, in particular for Baha’is.” In addition, the UN Special Rapporteur on the condition of human rights in Iran reported in February 2013, that there are 110 Baha’is currently imprisoned in Iran. Incarcerated solely for practicing their faith. The Baha’i faith is the largest non-Muslim minority in Iran. On December 18, 2013, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution calling on the Iranian regime to end its persecution of members of the Baha’i Faith.

Yet, the question remains: Will President Obama also take a stand in condemning the Iranian regime for such egregious human rights violation?

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.

  • Muhammad

    It would be good if Israel would give up its nuclear weapons and the international community put pressure on Israel. Hypocrisy.

    • T800

      Israel isn’t the one threatening other nations with total elimination,as is Iran. Israel has had nuclear arms for 3 decades and not threatened anyone with them. Nor have they attacked anyone that hasn’t first made war on Israel.
      OTOH,IRAN -has- signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty,and the mullahs reaffirmed their intent to abide by it,except that they’ve already violated the treaty several times,by doing nuclear weapons work,and secretly building their centrifuges and nuclear sites,not notifying the IAEA until they were revealed by Iranian dissidents.
      if Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons,they would not have run computer simulations for increasing the yield of a nuke,or tested neutron initiators and implosions of dummy pits at Parchin.
      If Iran only wanted a peaceful nuclear industry,they would not have constructed centrifuges and sites in secret,in violation of the NPT. They would have done it openly,with full knowledge and consent of the IAEA and UN,and avoided sanctions from the beginning.
      If Iran didn’t intend on attacking the US,they would not be building a missile base in Venezuela,or testing SCUD launches from container ships.
      I’d think Iran has better things to do with their money and resources.

      • Muhammad

        Israel just attacks.. It doesn’t warn…read some history.

        • Habbgun

          Um….Muhammad, your white socialist betters are asking you to clean their Occupy buckets. Please attend to it. They are getting very, very, impatient.

          • Notalibfool

            Maybe these socialists should stage an Occupy Tehran protest. Wonder how quickly their “friends” would lock them up in Evin Prison.

        • Notalibfool

          I have read history. Israel only attacks when it needs to in order to survive.

          Now, on the other hand, Iran HAS attacked other countries, either directly or through it’s criminal surrogate Hezbollah. Examples: US Embassy/hostage crisis (1979-81), the murder of 241 US marines in Beirut in 1983, the 1994 bombing of the AMIA building in Buenos Aires……….I could go on and on.

          You fool no one.

          • SCREW SOCIALISM

            Notalibfool AKBAR!

        • SCREW SOCIALISM

          Islamofascists attack. They don’t warn.. read some history.

          Learn about 9/11, 1993 bombing of the WTC, 7/7/05 bombing of London transport, bombing of Pan Am 103, 100,000+ dead in Syria, Boston Marathon bombing, beheading of British soldier Lee Rigby, Mumbai India massacre, Nairobi mall massacre…

        • defcon 4

          If Israel did, you muslimes might be experiencing a severe virgin shortage in allah’s heavenly whorehouse.

        • UCSPanther

          Gamal Nasser had plenty of warning in the Six Day War, and the Egyptians and their allies got broadsided big time because they were too stupid to keep their big mouths shut while openly preparing for war.

  • T800

    AFAIK,Iran does not have any nuclear submarines,just Kilo class diesel-electrics. So,they have no real need for 60%HEU,except to build bombs.

    • ahmad76

      You and all conservatives are again wrong.

      • Notalibfool

        And you are bad at deceiving people.

  • Muhammad

    The real threat is israel which has almost 400 nuclear warhead.

    • Notalibfool

      Nope. You can’t trick us, buddy. Maybe your lying will convince someone at CNN or NPR, but not here.

      • defcon 4

        Don’t leave out the Daily Kos, or the Huffington Ho, or the NY Slimes. Or really, any major enemedia outlet in the US today.

    • nick

      Yep, maybe israel should disarm and be annihilated by vile, hateful ignorant folk who share your repugnant ideology.

      • Notalibfool

        That’s exactly what will happen if Iran gets its way. Israel must remain strong.

    • SCREW SOCIALISM

      Son of a snake and a rat called Muhammed,

      Are you trying to say that the Islamofascist Regime of Iran will be utterly wiped off the pages of time and history?

      It will if it becomes necessary. Fascist Iran must behave like a civilized nation or it will be destroyed.

      The choice is up to you.

      Oh yes,

      DEATH to the ayatollahs and the illegal islamofascist regime of iran!

      LONG LIVE PERSIA!

      • defcon 4

        Persia is as dead as the Babylonian empire. Don’t believe me? Ask the Parsi.

    • GODSWIZARD

      “Muhammad”….what an unusual name for a muslim.

  • defcon 4

    Wow, Baha’i are the largest non-muslim minority in Iran. Zoroastrianism was the religion of the Persian empire. Persia was the birthplace of Zoroastrianism. Another example of islam0nazi ethnic cleansing in action.

  • Walter Sieruk

    This Obama/Kerry deal with the officlals of Ayatollah khamenie , Rouhani and the mullahs in power is a hoax and a naive mistake on the part of the different leaders of the West. In any so called “negotiations” the offlcials of the Islamic clerics in power have been very disingenous and have practiced dissimulation in their dialogue with naive and gullible leaders of the Western countries. Not only is this deal and hoax but it’s also a sick joke. For example, the site of Parchin where reachers are busy ar work weaponizing enriched uranium is outside of inspecter border limits. Furthermore the House Intelligence Committee Chairman ,Mike Rogers, stated the this deal has “rewarded very bad and dangerous behavior ” by Iran, He also stated “We may just have encoraged more violence in the future then we have stopped.” Likewise, Rep Peter King called this deal a “serious stategic mistake.” Moreover. Ayelet Savyon who is the director of the Iran desk at the Middle East Media Research Project stated “Just because Iran has a new president that hasn’t changed their goals… Their agenda hasn’t changed, the only thing that has changed is the image that they are trying to present to the world.” In addition to this just last at month at a group lecture I was at in which the guest speaker was in times past a Iranian citizen, a Muslim and a Hezbollah member who is now a Christian near the end of the lecture during the question and answer part was asked “What about this new Obama deal with Iran ?” The speaker answered It is a disaster. It’s a disaster for Israel, it’s a disaster for the Iranian people, It’s a disaster for the Middle East and a disaster for the world.”
    In conclusion, this”deal” with Iran is a hoax, a sick joke, a disaster and an affront.

  • Muhammad

    Just count how many wars Israel has launched since it foundation and how many iran? You conservative needs simple counting. It is not rocket science.

    • Notalibfool

      How many wars has Israel started? NONE! However, Iran has committed many acts of war since the lowlife thug Ayatollah Khomeini seized power in 1979.

      Once again: US Embassy/hostage crisis (1979-81), the murder of 241 US
      marines in Beirut in 1983, the 1994 bombing of the AMIA building in
      Buenos Aires. PLEASE EXPLAIN AND JUSTIFY THESE ILLEGAL ACTS!

      “You conservative needs simple counting.” Are you implying that we are uneducated? The same could be said for you, the moron who thinks Israel has started wars.

    • Drakken

      Funny how you ragheads keep bitching about losing, to the victors go the spoils haji, keep up the great work haji, happy nahkba !

  • Phương Trinh

    This also marks the fourth anniversary of what is considered in Iran as the hardliners’ Islamist victory over other groups regarding Ahmadinejad’s reelection

    dau phat hd gia re | tram bien ap | thiet bi dien