Iran nuclear deal in context of 22 years of conflict with Iranian resistance on the issue
By Mohammad Mohaddessin, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
The November 24 agreement between the Iranian regime and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, plus Germany, is an important turning point in the status of the clerical regime, its impact on the Iranian people, and its relationship with the international community. This is true regardless of whether the regime actually adheres to this agreement and takes the subsequent necessary steps, as opposed to violating the agreement by resorting to deceit and deception, as it has done on previous occasions.
Both parties – the Iranian regime on one side and the western countries, particularly the US, on the other – are trying to portray the agreement in a way that allows them to be perceived as the victorious side. Each side is attempting to score points vis-à-vis their domestic rivals and adversaries.
On the one hand President Obama and his administration are working to convince opponents of the deal in Congress and in the international community that the deal meets their minimum requirements. At the very least, the administration hopes that it’s characterization of the deal will compel these opponents to be silent, even if not agreeable. While this is not the focus of this article, there is no doubt that if the P5+1 had adopted a firm and decisive policy, the mullahs’ nuclear weapons program would had been totally defunct a along time ago.
On the other hand, the clerical regime and in particular Hassan Rouhani and Javad Zarif claim that this was the best deal they could make and that they had no choice but to take it. At the same time, they seek to establish that they have not retreated from their positions, have not crossed the regime’s red lines, and have kept their nuclear potential intact.
The first claim of the mullahs is valid since this agreement has provided concessions to the Iranian regime that should have been off the table from the beginning. Many of these concessions are in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions. Allowing enrichment of uranium up to 5 percent, not closing down the Fordow and Arak sites, not adopting the Additional Protocol or establishing a policy of snap inspections, not enforcing inspections of the Parchin site, not transferring 20 percent enriched uranium out of Iran: these are among the concessions that the U.S. and EU never should have awarded to the mullahs. By doing so they committed a big mistake. As such, the regime is correct that they could not have gained more, since anything more than this would had been tantamount to deliberately allowing the regime to acquire the bomb. The P5+1 took this agreement to the very edge of unacceptability. The regime has invested in that diplomatic misstep and surely plans to use these concessions, along with an ongoing policy of deception and cheating so that it can continue to pursue its nuclear weapons program.
But the regime’s second claim – that it has not retreated from its original positions – is totally wrong and is a lie. Upon the approval and recommendation of Khamenei the regime has conceded to a retreat that Khamenei had been utterly opposed to for the past eight years. According to the agreement, enrichment above 20 percent will be halted and existing stores of 20 percent enriched uranium will be neutralized. No new centrifuges will be utilized and some of the already installed centrifuges, particularly the more advanced ones, will be taken out of commission. The stockpile of 5 percent enriched uranium will not increase; there will not be any advancement in the area of producing plutonium; and inspectors will be guaranteed daily access to Natanz and Arak.
There is no doubt that the absolute value of what the regime has obtained is definitely much less than what it has paid. What the regime has obtained in return is the release of 7 or 10 or even 20 billion U.S. dollars of its assets that have been frozen due to banking and financial sanctions. It will also be newly permitted to engage in transactions in gold, precious metals, automobile industry goods, and petrochemicals.
The key question is what prompted the regime to accept this agreement? Answering this question is a prerequisite for understanding both the future plans of the regime and the consequences of accepting this agreement for that regime.
Hashemi Rafsanjani is on record as having addressed this question. Rafsanjani was the founder of the regime’s nuclear weapons program and remained the regime's undisputed number two man on the issue throughout the past 34 years, including the period of Khomeini’s tenure. As Iran stood at the edge of accepting this agreement, he compared the situation in the country to the period at the end of Iran-Iraq war in 1988 when Iran was compelled to accept UN Security Council resolution 598. He underscored that the country was caught in major crisis and that this agreement brought the regime out of that predicament.
Three parts of the equation
On the surface the nuclear issue is a confrontation between the clerical regime and the international community, in particular the Western countries. But in reality, first and foremost it is a confrontation between the religious dictatorship on the one hand and Iranian people and the resistance on the other. There has been a massive, ongoing confrontation between the Iranian resistance and the clerical regime on the nuclear issue, especially over the course of the past eleven years. But the conflict dates back to June 1991, when the first nuclear project of the regime was exposed by the resistance. It continued through early 1993, when the resistance announced that the clerical regime had purchased four nuclear warheads from Kazakhstan and intended to transfer them to Iran. And the confrontation developed into its current form when in August 2002 the resistance divulged the existence of two very important secret sites in Natanz and Arak.
A very common mistake on the international level is that in assessing issues regarding Iran, such as Iran-Iraq war or the nuclear issue, a major party is forgotten, namely the Iranian people and the resistance, who have constantly played the biggest role in Iranian affairs. And because it take such a narrow, exclusionary view of issues related to Iran, the international community tends to draw completely wrong and dangerous conclusions.
Case in point is the Iran-Iraq war. Subsequent to Iraq’s invasion of Iran in 1980, the Iranian resistance condemned it and at first took part in the fight against Iraq. As a result, a large number of its members and supporters were either killed or taken hostage. Subsequent to withdrawal of Iraqi forces from Iranian territory and the Iraqi government’s announcement of its readiness for peace, the Iranian resistance announced that from this point on, the war would be anti-patriotic and that the time for peace had arrived.
For six years afterwards the Iranian resistance engaged in an extensive social, political, and international campaign that exposed the illegitimacy of the regime’s war mongering and belligerence. This played a significant role in defeating the regime’s military mobilization effort. During the same period, the resistance established the National Liberation Army. By delivering heavy blows to the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and by setting the stage for defection of a large number of Iranian military personnel, the resistance played a unique role in crushing the mullahs’ military apparatus. Less than a month after the National Liberation Army of Iran liberated the town of Mehran and neutralized two divisions of the regime, Khomeini accepted the cease- fire that he had steadfastly rejected for six years while dispatching thousands upon thousands of Iranian youngsters to the war fronts as cannon fodder.
Regarding the nuclear issue, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran and the National Council of Resistance of Iran offered their assessment of the situation at the very outset. They unambiguously announced that the mullahs’ nuclear project was anti-patriotic and that neutralizing this project was to be seen as a national duty. There is no doubt in the mind of any patriotic Iranian that the nuclear bomb is the mullahs’ strategic guarantor for survival and of an altered balance of power that would expand their hegemony in the region and remove obstacles to their export of Islamic fundamentalism. The resistance never had any illusion that the mullahs’ purported pursuit of nuclear energy was anything other than an outright lie. It was always abundantly clear that given Iran’s vast oil and gas reserves, the cost of producing energy through a nuclear program would be several times that of producing with fossil fuel. Any student of economics could figure that these projects would destroy Iran’s economy.
Out of a sense of political and economic expediency related to their dealings with the religious fascist rulers of Iran, the Western powers simply ignored the revelations and impact of the Iranian resistance for as long as they possibly could. Over the course of 22 years, the confrontation between the resistance and the regime on the nuclear issue has been ongoing, but on most occasions the international community and particularly the West either provided assistance to the regime or at least closed their eyes to its egregious conduct.
In a press conference in Paris on December 2005, the resistance exposed the Qom site that by now has evolved into one of the major nuclear centers of the regime. But as is now familiar practice, the international counterparts pretended as though they had not heard anything until four years later, when in September 2009 a trilateral conference of the US and French Presidents and the Prime Minister of the UK jointly announced the existence of the Qom site.
In short, the West has engaged in a policy of appeasement and its futile negotiations and offers of concessions have encouraged the regime in its march towards obtaining nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the sanctions that the Iranian resistance has been calling for since the 1990s have come later and had less effect than they might have if the resistance had been a party to international policy in deaing with the regime. Yet, even coming as late as they have, the sanctions that were finally imposed in the last two to three years have had deep and crushing impact on the regime’s economy. Now this impact stands to be reversed in the name of renewing the old tendency of the West towards appeasement of Iran.
Prospects of implementation of the agreement
Whilst the regime had no choice but to accept this agreement in order to reduce economic and political pressures, at the same time it intends to use the following elements to change the trend of events in its favor:
It is true that with this agreement the structure of sanctions, particularly the oil, banking, and military sanctions, and sanctions stipulated in the UN Security Council resolutions officially remain intact. But the concessions provided to the regime, whether intentionally or inadvertently, would cause a major rift in the sanctions and would provide the regime with an opportunity to skirt several aspects of them.
Loosening of sanctions upon the regime has already begun due to the economic interests of the P5+1 countries.
The regime will put into operation the projects and sites that have been constructed secretly in recent years. Two of these sites have been exposed by the Iranian resistance in recent months, but unfortunately according to this agreement the regime is not committed to accepting international inspectors in these sites.
Deception and cheating has become the normal modus operandi of this regime in the past 20 years.
Yet despite all these concessions and undue leniency by the P5+1, since this regime is very vulnerable and susceptible, and since obtaining nuclear weapons is an irreplaceable guarantor of the regime’s survival, the regime cannot tolerate even this extent of retreat, and if the international community would not show hesitancy in implementing this agreement and would not tolerate the regime’s deception and secrecy, then this would be the beginning of drinking poison by the regime (As some within the government put it to describe the lethal consequences for the regime).
Even this limited retreat has had devastating impact on the regime. Despite the fact that Khamenei personally approved the result of the negotiations and the agreement, Keyhan Daily (which directly reflects Khamenei’s views) ran the following headline on November 25: “Geneva agreement last only one hour.” Keyhan lambasted Kerry’s remarks and the agreement itself, saying that the US State Departments abridged the agreement by claiming that it did not stipulate a right to enrich. As such, one the regime’s parliamentary deputies criticized Rouhani and his foreign minister in remarks to the Majlis on November 26. “They want to depict the poison that they have fed to people as a sweet syrup,” he said. This is an issue that we will elaborate on in future articles