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Hardliners in Final Bid to Sabotage Nuclear Deal

April 1, 2015
IranWire
3 min read
Hassan Shariatmadari, Kayhan editor, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Hassan Shariatmadari, Kayhan editor, and Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Ali-Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader’s advisor for international affairs and former foreign minister
Ali-Akbar Velayati, the Supreme Leader’s advisor for international affairs and former foreign minister
Former nuclear negotiator Mehdi Mohammadi warned against signing any agreement that conceded too much to the West
Former nuclear negotiator Mehdi Mohammadi warned against signing any agreement that conceded too much to the West
Protests against nuclear negotiations outside a nuclear facility in Iran, November 24 2014
Protests against nuclear negotiations outside a nuclear facility in Iran, November 24 2014

As the final deadline for Iran and the P5+1 countries to reach a nuclear deal approaches, hardliners have warned that Iran will not back down and that the West must agree to lift sanctions.

Most prominent among the clamor is Mehdi Mohammadi, a former nuclear negotiator under President Ahmadinejad. “Suspending sanctions is not a concession,” he wrote on the website Nuclear Iran. “It is a tool to control Iran’s behavior under any condition that the US may find necessary.”

Although he acknowledged that suspending sanctions could lead to lifting them for good, he was cynical that this would be the case. Conditions tabled by the US, he said, were “not limited to the nuclear case.”

“If the Westerners do not agree to lift sanctions in Lausanne, the Iranian team must not sign any agreement,” he warned. “Its best option is to return to Tehran and make clear the consequences of failed negotiations — especially for the other side. This will force them to think, and to review their options for future negotiations.”

“Certain unofficial — but still noteworthy — news indicates that an agreement between Iran and 5+1 countries is close,” wrote Hassan Shariatmadari, the managing editor of the extreme hardliner daily Kayhan. “If this is true, it is fair to say that such an agreement is far from what the Islamic Republic of Iran wants, or has wanted.” He said that what had been discussed in Switzerland went against Iran’s "red lines." In other words, these agreements ignored guidelines set out by Iranian hardliners and concessions that were clearly defined as off-limits.

As part of any deal, Shariatmadari said, Iran must start new discussions with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly within the framework of Possible Military Dimensions (PMD). “We must allow the agency to inspect our missile industry. PMD is about possibilities — and therefore the West will have an excuse to ask us to stop production of stockpiles of Iranian ballistic missiles, like Shahab, which can carry nuclear warheads.”

What will they ask for next? Freedom for the Baha’is?

On Monday, Ayatollah Khamenei’s official website published an interview with former Foreign Minister Ali-Akbar Velayati, who is now the Supreme Leader’s advisor for international affairs. The interview summed up many of the concerns expressed by hardliners and those opposed to a nuclear deal.

“The moment they retreat from one battlefield, the Americans come up with new issues,” the influential Velayati said. “If they think they have been successful in forcing us to retreat when it comes to the nuclear issues, they then use the same pressures when it comes to missiles. Little by little, they would introduce the issue of human rights. They asked, for example, ‘why don’t you give freedoms to the Baha’is?’ Giving Baha’is freedom means giving them the right to spy for the Zionist Regime. The connection between Baha’ism and the Zionist Regime is not a secret to anybody. Baha’ism has its headquarters in the occupied territories. Or they asked: why do we exercise sharia law? And so on.”

“An agreement must be balanced,” Velayati warned. “It cannot stop our activities and postpone the lifting of sanctions by a few years, under their own supervision and assessment. In fact, when we honor our obligations, they must honor theirs at the same time. In military jargon, both sides must honor their obligations on day “D” and at the “H” hour — exactly as Iran and Iraq did when the ceasefire started at a prearranged hour on August 28, 1988.”

“In the same way,” Velayati said, “When it comes to the nuclear case, both sides must take action at a prearranged time. They say that if we've not done things right, they'll restore sanctions. We say in response:  if you restore sanctions, we'll restore all nuclear activities to the level they were at before negotiations. We believe in fairness for both sides.” 

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