Ayatollah Khamenei's Cunning Nuclear Game Exposed

Why Iran's Supreme Leader is staying quiet on the nuclear deal.

The political game of Iran’s Supreme Leader and autocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, President Rouhani, and the Islamic Republic’s nuclear team has changed recently.  This exposes the truth of the regime’s intentions and pre-planned nuclear game. 

Khamenei has always played a cagey, astute, Machiavellian and hypocritical role in the politics of the Islamic Republic in order to serve his parochial and political interests.

One of his most recent clever tactics has been to set the stage to pull out of the nuclear agreement, which was reached primarily between two key players -- President Obama and Rouhani’s team -- after economic sanctions have been lifted. 

What President Obama has failed to understand is that the ultimate decision maker in the Islamic Republic, when it comes to major foreign policy issues, is not president Rouhani and his team, but the Supreme Leader, Khamenei.

Although sanctions are in the process of being lifted, the Supreme Leader has conveniently not given his official approval or rejection yet. I am certain he has avoided doing this for the following reasons. 

Currently, the game that Iranian politicians are playing is very calculated and manipulative with the sole purpose of preserving the power of the Supreme autocrat, Khamenei. President Rouhnai and foreign minister Javad Zarif, as well as his deputy, Araqchi (all are loyal servants of the Supreme Leader), initiated their plan a long time before even Rouhani came to power as President.  

The first phase of the political game was to introduce a “moderate” politician to the West, Rouhani. The second phase was to strike a nuclear deal in order to remove all economic and political sanctions against the Islamic Republic. In addition, a key part of the plan was to have the United Nations Security Council arms embargo lifted. Another step was to remove Iranian officials, such as General Soleimani, from the sanctions list. 

According to Iranian officials and the parliament representative, so far 800 Iranian officials have been removed from the sanctions list. This has given these Iranian officials reason to celebrate. President Obama never informed the public about this crucial term of the deal. 

The third phase of the political game is to pull out of the nuclear agreement, while deflecting blame to the United States and Israel. This will be done after economic sanctions are lifted and after the ruling clerics have strengthened their full economic, geopolitical and strategic power. 

However, in order to pull out of the agreement, the Supreme Leader has to make sure that he does not appear on the records approving or rejecting the nuclear deal. This prevents him from taking responsibility for the decision and allows him to avoid blame for the future failure of the nuclear deal. In order to do accomplish this, he has never publicly or officially approved or rejected the nuclear deal. 

Except for a handful of statements, he has hesitated to comment on the terms of the nuclear agreement altogether. As a result, even though without his approval the agreement would not have been possible, he will have the freedom to argue later that he never signed the agreement and he has every right to pull out of it as he wishes. 

The other scheme that Iranian politicians are plotting is to put the nuclear bill through the Islamic Republic’s Parliament (Majlis) instead of the proper channel of the Supreme National Security Council. The nuclear bill has been introduced as a treaty, although it is a matter of national security. 

The purpose of putting the nuclear bill through the parliament rather than the Supreme National Security Council is to avoid having the Supreme Leader’s official approval on paper. If the nuclear bill goes through the Supreme National Security Council, then the Supreme Leader has to publicly and officially approve or reject it as he is in charge of the Council. But the Supreme Leader does not desire to make his stance clear for political and ideological purposes. 

If the nuclear bill goes through the Iranian parliament, as is happening now, then the ratification of the bill does not need official or public approval from the Supreme Leader. 

The Supreme Leader will remain in a position of full authority to revoke the deal. He will continue to be cunning, secretive and ambiguous about his position up to the point that all of the economic sanctions and more specifically the arms embargo are lifted. Then, he can find any excuse to leave the deal and both accuse and blame the United States and Israel for the failure. 

Khamenei, the Supreme autocrat, will continue his cunning and double-sided political game of sidestepping and dodging all responsibility for the nuclear deal, while continuing to be vocal regarding his Islamist anti-American and anti-Semitism principles.