January 27, 2014 | Quote
More Bad Omens for the Iran Nuclear Talks
The velocity of bad sign-spotting is increasing as we get closer to the main negotiations over Iran's nuclear program.
Bad Sign No. 1: I think it’s important to note that Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has just stated that under no circumstances would Iran agree to destroy any of its centrifuges. I would also like to note that this unequivocal statement, if sincere, means that there is no possibility of a nuclear deal between Iran and the six powers set to resume negotiating with it next month.
In order to keep Iran perpetually 6 to 12 months away from developing a nuclear weapon — an unacceptable period in the mind of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, but a time-frame that U.S. President Barack Obama could conceivably accept — Iran would have to agree to dismantle 15,000 centrifuges; close an important uranium enrichment site; and accept 20 years of nuclear inspections, according to theInstitute for Science and International Security, a well-respected (and centrist) think tank headed by the former United Nations weapons inspector David Albright.
Bad Sign No. 2: Zarif, the moderate’s moderate, might not be so moderate at all. Writing in the New Republic, Ali Alfoneh and Reuel Marc Gerecht plumb Zarif’s new memoir, “Mr. Ambassador: A Conversation with Mohammad-Javad Zarif, Iran’s Former Ambassador to the United Nations,” and find distressing signs of ideological fervor: “His discussion of the basic nature of the Islamic Republic and the West exposes Zarif’s ideological commitment and the regime’s revolutionary constancy.”
They quote him: “ 'We have a fundamental problem with the West and especially with America,’ Zarif declares. ‘This is because we are claimants of a mission, which has a global dimension. It has nothing to do with the level of our strength, and is related to the source of our raison d’etre. How come Malaysia [an overwhelmingly Muslim country] doesn’t have similar problems? Because Malaysia is not trying to change the international order. It may seek independence and strength, but its definition of strength is the advancement of its national welfare.’ ”
Alfoneh and Gerecht continue, “While Zarif considers national welfare one of the goals of the Islamic Republic, he stresses that ‘we have also defined a global vocation, both in the Constitution and in the ultimate objectives of the Islamic revolution.' He adds: ‘I believe that we do not exist without our revolutionary goals.’ ”