This 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?
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