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Iranian regime cannot be trusted with a new nuclear deal

Former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi. (Reuters)
Former head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran Ali Akbar Salehi. (Reuters)
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08 Aug 2022 05:08:20 GMT9
Majid Rafizadeh
08 Aug 2022 05:08:20 GMT9

Since the Iranian leaders’ nuclear strategy is anchored in deceiving, blackmailing and extorting the world’s powers, it should be extremely difficult to trust the regime with any nuclear deal.

The regime has even boasted about its shrewd policy in deceiving and misleading the international community. For example, one of the critical aspects of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal, which was signed in 2015, was that the core part of the Arak nuclear reactor was to be filled with concrete and destroyed. Iran claimed that it did so, according to the country’s Fars news agency. The US State Department and other parties to the nuclear deal also confirmed the move.

But later, the former head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi admitted in an interview on state TV that the government did not comply with this condition and instead misled the international community. He said: “We did not pour cement into the Arak heavy water reactor. If we had, the Arak reactor would be destroyed.”

When the regime’s TV host asked him about a video showing cement being poured into the reactor’s pipes, Salehi responded: “Not the pipes you see here. We had purchased similar pipes, but I couldn’t announce it at that time. Only one person knows so in Iran, the highest senior official. No one else knew. When our friends were negotiating, we knew that they would go back on their words one day. (Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei) has said ‘be careful, they do not keep their promises.’ We needed to be smart. In addition, to not destroy the bridges behind us, we needed to also be building bridges, so that if we needed to return, we could return faster.”

This is just one example of the regime’s deceptive practices when it comes to its nuclear program and compliance with international deals. Other instances include the detection of radioactive particles in Turquz Abad, Iran’s reluctance to answer simple questions about that secret facility and nonpartisan evidence and detailed reports about Tehran’s clandestine nuclear facilities.

The Iranian regime has dragged out the negotiations on a return to the nuclear deal long enough to reach the nuclear threshold. Several high-ranking Iranian officials, including the country’s atomic energy chief, have bragged that the regime has the ability to build a nuclear bomb.

As long ago as last November, the Institute for Science and International Security released a study confirming that “Iran has enough enriched uranium hexafluoride in the form of near 20 and 60 percent-enriched uranium to produce enough weapon-grade uranium… for a single nuclear weapon in as little as three weeks. It could do so without using any of its stock of uranium enriched up to 5 percent as feedstock. The growth of Iran’s stocks of near 20 and 60 percent-enriched uranium has dangerously reduced breakout timelines.”

The Iranian regime has also increased its extortion tactics, including turning off International Atomic Energy Agency cameras that monitor its nuclear activities. “In other words, the (IAEA) will not have any access to the information before sanctions are lifted,” the state news agency IRNA said, quoting Behrouz Kamalvandi, a spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

The Iranian regime is also constructing an underground nuclear facility that would reportedly be extremely difficult to bomb. Even Israel would not have the military capability to attack this underground nuclear site. In a report published early this year, David Albright, president of the Institute for Science and International Security, pointed out: “Fordow is already viewed as so deeply buried that it would be difficult to destroy via aerial attack. The new Natanz site may be even harder to destroy.”

It has dragged out the negotiations on a return to the JCPOA long enough to reach the nuclear threshold.

Dr. Majid Rafizadeh

These developments mark a new chapter in an extremely protracted and dangerous game of brinksmanship between Iran and the other signatories to the JCPOA. The main problem is that cowing to Iran’s demands in order to satisfy the theocratic establishment, while the Iranian regime is clearly doing less, is making Tehran more emboldened and empowered to defy the international community. This demands a strong response.

The JCPOA is a compromise and bowing to nuclear extortion is a compromise too far. The international community must focus its diplomatic efforts on countering the clear and present danger that the aggressive Iranian behavior across the region poses.

  • Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
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