BlogIran’s Nuclear Desperation Shows Reform is a Facade

Iran’s Nuclear Desperation Shows Reform is a Facade


Hamid Yazdan Panah is an attorney focused on asylum and immigration in the San Francisco Bay Area. He is also a human rights activist focused on the Middle East and Iran.

This past week, Reuters reported an exclusive story, entitled “Iran tells West President Rouhani at risk if talks fail: Iranian officials” Javad Zarif, Iran’s crafty Foreign Minister, has continued to sell the idea that the United States must make a quick deal with Iran, or else lose risk losing the “moderation” offered by Rouhani. This report comes amid a strong push by Tehran to finalize a nuclear deal, “or else”. These remarks show just how desperate Iran is for a nuclear deal, and that reform in Iran is a facade used to achieve political ends.

It’s no surprise that Zarif’s warnings echo those of Iran’s de facto lobby in the United States, NIAC, which has also used the “threat” of hardliners coming to power, as a tactic to push for a nuclear deal with Iran.

Curiously enough, the Reuters report notes that “Khamenei has the final word on any deal.” Not only is that true, but Khamenei has final say on all foreign policy matters in Iran, as well as say over who is eligible for candidacy in elections, among other broad powers.

So what exactly would the West be losing here, if Khamenei has always, and will always have the final say? The veneer of reform and moderation that is Rouhani?

This report also coincided with a trip to Iran by former US Congressmen Jim Slattery, who came back bearing an important message from Tehran. Slattery claimed that Rohani and his inner circle were “deeply committed to improving this relationship with the United States”. A stance which Iran has attempted to perpetuate since Rouhani’s selection in 2013. He echoed the warning put forth by NIAC, and Rouhani. “And I believe that if they fail, we are likely to see the return of a much more hardline government in Iran.”

It seems Iran has mastered its version of the “good cop, bad cop” routine. Warning the West that it can quickly lose its smiling mask if it doesn’t get what it it wants.

This past week Khamenei joined the charm offensive, and gave his tacit approval to accepting a nuclear deal with the United States. At the same time Rouhani took time to remind the West that, “If there is going to be peace and stability in the region, and terrorism is to be uprooted, there is no other way than with the presence of the Islamic Republic of Iran…You’ve seen in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen that the power that could help those nations against terrorist groups was the Islamic Republic of Iran,” he said. Rouhani added, “”What we are offering is to reach a win-win agreement in which Iran will show transparency in its peaceful nuclear activities,” he said.

What can we glean from these statements? Two simple facts, Iran is clamouring for a nuclear deal. Their desperation is evidenced by their repeated insistence that the time is now for a deal, and that this “historic window” will not last.

Secondly, we can once and for all conclude that the myth of reform in Iran is a political ploy used by the regime to pursue its interests. Rouhani was brought to power as a nod and wink to the West to pursue a policy of rapprochement. Iran’s tacit admission that it may drop Rouhani if he cannot get them what they want should leave no doubt as to his true purpose, which is achieving concessions from the West, not pursuing reform within Iran. The regime in Iran executed 721 individuals in 2014, Rouhani’s first full year. A rise in executions, from the 665 in 2013, under the “hardline” Ahmadinejad.

In January, Rouhani claimed that Iran may need to put issues like the nuclear matter to a national referendum. The statement was met with widespread fanfare by media outlets in the West. Rouhani’s ridiculous claim that he could call for a referendum is fodder for those who are willfully ignorant of the fact that no such referendum can ever take place in Iran’s theocracy. Iran will never be a democracy so long as it is headed by a Supreme Leader who has the final say in all matters. How this fact continues to escape the narrative on negotiations is both curious and troubling for those who know the realities of this regime.

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