The report points out that Behrouz Kamalvandi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran issued a statement saying that the Iranian government would be issuing a formal protest with the International Atomic Energy Agency over the leak of the document. The source of the leak was not disclosed following the AP report, but Kamalvandi said, “As of now, our suspicions point to the IAEA and the people there who have access to these documents.”
As The Tower points out, this statement comes more than a week after the initial revelation of the leak, which was actually met with boastful acknowledgement by other Iranian officials. Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, for instance, explained that Iranian “negotiators and experts” specifically sought out the terms in the document as a “matter of pride.” And this statement closely coincided with threats by multiple Iranian officials including Speaker of the Iranian Parliament Ali Larijani, suggesting that Iran would resume and further expand full-scale nuclear enrichment much sooner than originally planned if Tehran felt dissatisfied with the outcome of the JCPOA.
To whatever extent Kamalvandi’s comments are inconsistent with Zarif’s, there is similar internal inconsistency in Kamalvandi’s statement, which directly parroted Zarif’s boasting, saying that the formal protest would go forward even though the contents of the leaked document were a matter of pride. Furthermore, The Tower notes, as some other outlets did last week, that the potential for such an expansion in enrichment was already a known feature of the JCPOA, even if the “secret” document had not been revealed.
It is clear that the implicit criticism in The Tower report is that the regime is using making arguably contradictory statements on the same topic because each statement serves the purposes of state propaganda in different contexts. This same phenomenon can arguably be observed with regard to other issues, as well, including the frequently recurring conflict over Iran’s human rights violations and the Western criticism thereof.
The Iranian regime has its own internal human rights monitor, but as has been pointed out by independent, Iran-focused human rights organizations, the purpose of that monitor appears to be only to deny the existence of well-known Iranian human rights issues when they are brought up by Western governments, the United Nations, or non-governmental organizations. Furthermore, in the face of those criticisms, the Islamic Republic is fond of levying matching accusations against the US and its allies, often using Iran’s own state-run English language media.
This was done on Monday in Press TV, which the regime used to report upon a conference that was recently held in Tehran to discuss the US human rights record. The video segment describing that conference focused upon the controversies that have recently become prevalent in the US following various reports of African Americans being mistakenly killed by the police during traffic stops and responses to emergency service calls.
However, it also avoided relevant context, suggesting, for instance, that the problem of inappropriate use of deadly force somehow originated in Washington. But the killings in question have each been the acts of individual police operating at a local level, and each have been investigated, with many spurring civilian protest and sympathetic comment from the US president and other politicians.
By contrast, many reports have accumulated over the years of Iranian arrestees being killed under torture. Many others have been subject to similarly harsh treatment, albeit not fatal. And such reports frequently describe the cases of political prisoners, and not cases of mistaken identity or police error, as in the case of local-level killings by Western law enforcement officers. Crucially, in many of the instances of apparent Iranian human rights violations and politically motivated arrests, the arresting authorities are either members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps or agents of the Intelligence Ministry, both of which do in fact answer directly to Tehran.
Press TV alleged that “the US portrays itself as a defender of human rights across the globe” but that it “uses the issue as a tool to exert political pressure on other countries.” Without specifically denying any of the human rights allegations presented against Iran, the report evidently sought to cast doubt upon such reports by implying that they are manufactured by political enemies.
This begins to look like a contradiction with other official statements when one considers that the Press TV report emerged on the same day that the Iranian judiciary publicly acknowledged, through other Iranian state media, that it had detained another Iranian-American dual national, without issuing specific charges. While the individual remained unnamed in the report, it apparently refers to Robin Shahini, a 46-year old San Diego resident whose family says he was arrested on July 11 and has not been heard from since.
Iranian authorities reportedly instructed the family to remain silent about the arrest, thereby further suggesting coordinated Iranian efforts to manipulate the media and cast doubt upon human rights violations without addressing them in any meaningful way. This also points to important contrast between coordinated human rights abuses in Iran and the individual American tragedies highlighted by Press TV and other Iranian sources.
The report failed to acknowledge that law enforcement authorities in the United States have continued to allow protests by the Black Lives Matter movement to go forward, even after one recent protest coincided with the assassination of five police officers. By contrast, persons who assemble outside of Evin Prison or Iranian government buildings to protest the unjustified arrest of their loved ones are frequently dispersed or arrested. Furthermore, the Associated Press quoted Shahini’s sister as saying that his arrest was likely related to critical commentary he had posted on the internet. Each month, additional reports emerge of persons who were arrested in Iran for nothing other than statements made online.
This repression of dissent is one thing that Iran has apparently not made serious efforts to deny. Indeed, on Sunday the head of the Basij civilian militia, General Mohammad Reza Nagdhi presided over the destruction of 100,000 satellites, in keeping with the government’s ban on these devices and other information sources including Facebook, Twitter, and numerous Western news sites. But although the regime is not prone to denying its efforts to control the flow of information, it does attempt to invoke noble motives. The Daily Mail quoted Naghdi saying that Western-based television networks “weaken the foundation of families,” “cause disruptions in children’s education,” and bring about “improper behavior.”