Jan 10, 2015
While the Obama administration continues negotiations that will likely never persuade the Iranian regime to give up its nuclear weapons program, the president went on the record stating that he sees a possibility of reopening a U.S. embassy in Iran. During an NPR interview with Steve Inskeep, President Obama said, “I never say never, but I think these things have to go in steps.”
In the same interview the president revealed his optimism that Iran’s nuclear program will fall in line with international standards. “If you look at the negotiations as they’ve proceeded, what we’ve said to the Iranians is that we are willing to recognize your ability to develop a modest nuclear power program for your energy needs. … They have legitimate defense concerns, but those have to be separated out from the adventurism, the support of organizations like Hezbollah, the threats they’ve directed towards Israel.”
However, the nongovernmental organization International Committee In Search of Justice, a group made up of current and former European parliamentarians released a comprehensive study of Iran’s nuclear programs. It highlighted that “Iran currently runs a dual nuclear program; a civilian side, which appears to pursue peaceful nuclear energy, and a military program that abuts sanctions by using dual-use nuclear materials or smuggles illegal bomb-making materials. The report said Iranian leaders for the civilian and military programs often overlap, allowing scientists to interchangeably move between the two programs.”
The leader of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, Maryam Rajavi said, “They (Iran) will only forgo the bomb if they sense that their survival is in danger and if they feel that the risk of insisting on the nuclear project outweighs the risk of abandoning it.”
Rajavi also suggested that America risks mistakes during the negotiations by giving the hardline regime time to improve its ballistic missile programs, as well as enrich uranium. Iran “will dodge the signing of a comprehensive agreement as long as it possibly can, unless international pressure forces it to retreat. In their confrontation against a decaying tyranny, the Iranian people have a democratic alternative with a clear platform that seeks a secular and pluralistic republic, gender equality, a society based on respect for human rights and the abolition of the death penalty, abdication of the mullahs’ Sharia laws, providing equal economic opportunities to all, a nonnuclear Iran, and peace and coexistence with the rest of the world.”
President Obama further pontificated that Iran could possibly rejoin the world stage if they start playing by the rules. “They have a path to break through that isolation and they should seize it. Because if they do, there’s incredible talent and resources and sophistication … inside of Iran, and it would be a very successful regional power that was also abiding by international norms and international rules, and that would be good for everybody.”
The comments took many politicos by surprise, since the U.S. has not had diplomatic relations since the 1979 Islamic revolution that turned into a 444-day hostage crisis. As a result, the U.S. labeled Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism, and imposed harsh sanctions that have crippled Iran’s economy for the last 35 years. But like many other administrations, the idea of brokering a Middle East peace deal would be an ideal way to end a beleaguered foreign policy program.
Currently the Iranian’s have knowingly aided the U.S by taking up arms against the Islamic State terrorist group. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps are actively providing thousands of troops on the ground fighting the ISIS’ advancement in the volatile region. While some see this as neighbors taking care of their locality, others think it’s unwise to allow Iran any role in the region.
U.S domestic reaction was mixed. Karim Sadjadpour, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, says Obama’s comments “have to be one of the most conciliatory interviews on Iran that any U.S. president has given in the last 35 years. Obama’s rhetoric is somewhat unsettling for the hard-liners in Tehran because it becomes more difficult for them to justify their anti-Americanism. Israel, which calls Iran an existential threat, has not officially responded to the comments.”
It’s worth noting that the Wall Street Journal reported that President Obama sent a “secret letter” to the Iranians explaining “a shared interest between the U.S. and Iran in fighting ISIS and stressed that any cooperation on that would be largely contingent on Iran agreeing to the nuclear deal.”
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