Iran: Strategic Deadlock
Dr. Alejo Vidal-Quadras-Former Vice President of the European Parliament
While less than three weeks remain until the fourth step in reducing the Iranian regime's nuclear deal (JCPOA) obligations, international pressures on the mullahs have increased, and in particular European countries are warning about it.
In a joint statement on Wednesday, October 16, France and Germany called on Iran to adhere to all its commitments.
Following President Hassan Rouhani’s statement about the development of centrifuges, and a review to begin the fourth step in reducing nuclear commitments, the French Foreign Ministry issued a statement urging Iran to refrain from reducing its commitments. Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Agnes von der Mol said Iran should refrain from going through a very worrying phase of new measures that could help increase tensions. She made the remarks following a speech by Rouhani, who said Tehran was working on advanced IR-9 centrifuges to enrich uranium. These centrifuges are not mentioned in the 2015 nuclear deal.
#Iran Regime's Deadline Approaches— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) June 8, 2019
Iran issued a 60-day deadline earlier this year to the three European signatories of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (#JCPOA) and to China and Russia. It announced that they wanted these countries to come up...https://t.co/18MvxlTxHn pic.twitter.com/SAWf7dSTAE
"There is no hope for Europe in the implementation of the JCPOA. The fact is that there has been real agreement between the United States, Britain, France and Germany over the weakening of the Islamic Republic of Iran," says Amir Abdollahian, an aide to Parliament speaker Ali Larijani. Describing the tightening of sanctions on the throat of the regime as "economic terrorism," he hopelessly added: "Instex does not have a driving engine either. Iran needs to take action to radically change the atmosphere of economic terrorism sanctions. " (IRGC News Agency, October 18).
Fourth Step: A Dangerous Step for the Iranian Regime
In fact, step four is more serious than previous steps in violation of the JCPOA. In other words, with the fourth step Iran is advancing towards making a nuclear bomb, and this is not something that the relevant parties and Europe can tolerate and if, after taking the fourth step, Europe declares that Iran has violated the JCPOA, the regime is subject to a trigger mechanism and Chapter 7 of the United Nations Charter, which is a terrifying prospect for the mullahs' regime. At the same time, Abbas Araghchi, the Deputy Foreign Minister, met with the Deputy Foreign Minister of Sweden, saying that the regime is determined to take the next steps in reducing its obligations.
In a recent speech at the University of Tehran, despite the fierce attacks of rival gangs on JCPOA, Rouhani said, "there is no dispute at all on JCPOA. You don’t need to fight on JCPOA. The fight is on a bigger issue. The fight is over a higher issue." Rouhani wants to say (as he has always said) that JCPOA was under the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei control and was endorsed and signed by him. Therefore, the fanfare of his opposition within the regime is irrelevant.
The Foreign Minister Javad Zarif also said in a televised interview (October 15) to the opponents of the nuclear deal that "you are saying that JCPOA is a corpse, okay, bury it to have six Security Council resolutions ...". Zarif had earlier said in November 2018 in the Parliament that, in addition to Rouhani, in nuclear talks, everything was done in full detail, with Khamenei's consent.
'Fighting for something bigger'
Rouhani has said that we have been fighting the world for 40 years. It's a matter of interacting or not. He clearly meant that the regime was in a strategic stalemate and that the stalemate had to be lifted to address issues such as the JCPOA. But the reality is that the regime as a whole is in a deadlock, a strategic deadlock!
Responding to the French Foreign Minister's remarks, the Resalat daily on October 17 wrote: "Making a distinction between the United States and France is a strategic mistake. To corroborate the issue, the emphasis of Macron on the need to negotiate on the missile activities of the regime, the proposal to impose limitless restrictions on the JCPOA by the French authorities and, finally, the wasting of time for the French to provide a specific EU financial mechanism, can be mentioned." The newspaper added: "Although the document does not explicitly refer to Iran's ballistic missile program, French officials say the perception of all sides regarding the regional role of Tehran was that missile issues would be part of the negotiations."
Not only the JCPOA is a respiratory gateway for the ruling theocracy, but it is also tied to the political life of Rouhani. He says, with the JCPOA, I bought critical time for the survival of the regime.
Ayatollah Khamenei made a speech recently and said: "One of the components of power is our strategic depth. The presence in the countries of the region and the support of the nations of the region for the Islamic Republic is the strategic depth of the Islamic Republic; the Islamic Republic cannot ignore it; no reasonable government will. … This broad transboundary view, this strategic depth is sometimes even more necessary than the country's most urgent necessities."
A few months before the signing of the deal, on May 5, 2015, Iranian democratic opposition leader Maryam Rajavi said: "Tehran’s nuclear projects are absolutely antipatriotic, and the people of Iran strongly oppose them. In diametric opposition to the regime, we seek a democratic and non-nuclear Iran. Acquiring the nuclear bomb, violation of human rights, export of fundamentalism and terrorism are four pillars of Iran’s ruling theocracy. The situation of human rights in Iran, as well as the expulsion of the mullahs from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Afghanistan are the proper gauges indicating whether this regime has given up on nuclear bomb. Anything less, under whatever pretext, is a deceit tantamount to capitulating to the catastrophe of nuclear-armed mullahs… According to the Iranian Resistance’s experience, Tehran mullahs understand only the language of force and firmness. The time has come for major powers to stop appeasing and giving concessions to this bloodletting religious tyranny, the central banker of terrorism and the world’s top perpetrator of the death penalty. Instead, they should recognize the Iranian people's right for resistance and freedom."
The regime clearly cannot afford to accept European and American conditions for giving up its "strategic depth" and limit the development of its ballistic missiles because then the religious dictatorship that relies on exporting terrorism and fundamentalism will lose its base. And this is the strategic impasse of the regime. Khamenei's double defeat in the nuclear project and in the collapse of the JCPOA represents an irreversible strategic failure.
Alejo Vidal-Quadras, a Spanish professor of atomic and nuclear physics, was vice-president of the European Parliament from 1999 to 2014. He is President of the International Committee In Search of Justice (ISJ)