May 9, 2014 | Policy Brief

Khamenei’s Ominous Nuclear Infographic

May 9, 2014 | Policy Brief

Khamenei’s Ominous Nuclear Infographic

Prior to the technical negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program that took place in New York this week, the office of Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, released an infographic. Translated and disseminated on Twitter by — a website believed to be run by the Islamic Republic — the graphic outlines the Supreme Leader’s six nuclear “red-lines,” per a speech he delivered to Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization in April.

First, Khamenei seeks to promote “scientific progress in the nuclear field,” a catch-all term that is intended to include uranium enrichment, which Iran continues at a lower-level and has not been halted under the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA).

Khamenei also seeks the “the continuation of R&D.” Of course, research and development is ongoing in Iran, and its scope is what must now be tackled by the negotiators of the P5+1.

Khamenei further asserts that “no one has the right to bargain over nuclear achievements.” This begs the question, if Iran is not negotiating its “nuclear achievements,” then what can the West expect to gain from discussions?

Khamenei reiterated this point by stressing the need for Iranian negotiators to “be vigilant,” so as not to be tricked into giving up the nuclear achievements Iran has persevered to attain.

The Supreme Leader then defiantly calls for Iran to stand up to “bullying,” which implies that Iran will not heed the wishes of Western or any other foreign power. This is a familiar refrain in Khamenei’s other sermons.   

Finally, Khamenei asserts that “relations between the IAEA and Iran must be normalized and on a non-extraordinary basis.” This likely refers to his desire to prevent the intrusive monitoring and verification system that non-proliferation experts call the “Additional Protocol-Plus.” Such a program would require Iranian compliance with IAEA teams above and beyond what is already taking place.

In the current atmosphere of optimism, the temptation may be to write-off the Supreme Leader’s bluster and to trust the guidance of his far more palatable president, Hassan Rouhani. But doing so would ignore the stated goals of the real power-broker in Iran.

Behnam Ben Taleblu is an Iran research analyst at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. 


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