Outpouring of Criticism of Nuclear Talks in Wake of NCRI Rally

Writing in Forbes, Iranian human rights activist Amir Basiri repeated the allegations in Mrs. Rajavi’s speech that the US and its allies had offered concessions to the Islamic Republic that promise to significantly contribute to its progress toward a nuclear weapon. Basiri examined the recent history of the Iran nuclear issue, including the NCRI’s revelation last February of a still-undisclosed uranium enrichment site, and concluded that Tehran’s behavior virtually guarantee that it will either make illicit progress toward a nuclear weapon or attempt to delay the negotiations indefinitely.

 

 

Critics of the emerging final agreement, which is due June 15, believe that the Obama administration is enabling this outcome and is excluding a third option. Such an option might involve increasing pressure on the Iranian regime to force concessions from it. In a speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives on Monday, Representative Keith Rothfus of Pennsylvania advocated just this course of action, saying, “Until Iran stops its export of terror and stops its threats to Israel, the United States, and other nations, no sanction relief should be granted. If Iran does not abandon its nuclear ambitions, sanctions should be increased.”

Similar to Basiri, Rothfus also referred to Iran’s past history as evidence that the regime is certain to attempt to cheat on a weak nuclear deal and continue pursuing in a nuclear weapon. But he drew this conclusion based not only on prior nuclear work, but also the regime’s persistent anti-Western belligerence and support for terrorism, even under the supposedly moderate government of President Hassan Rouhani. The full text of Rothfus’s speech was published Tuesday in Ground Report.

Meanwhile, an editorial by Foundation for the Defense of Democracies fellow Benjamin Weinthal, published Sunday by the Jerusalem Post, also pointed to the lack of moderation in the Rouhani government as a reason for skepticism about the nuclear deal. The article highlighted the regime’s persecution of Christians and other religious minorities, as well as its overall human rights abuses, as evidence that the Rouhani administration cannot be trusted to keep its word.

The arguably worsening human rights situation is also something that was highlighted in Saturday’s rally, along with the external belligerence and terrorism emphasized by Rothfus. This in turn contributed to the commentary by retired CIA officer Jason Matthews in an editorial published by Fox News on Tuesday. Matthews repeats the claim that a weak nuclear deal is poised to leave Iran with enough infrastructure to acquire a nuclear weapon, and “soon.”

He adds that Iran’s traditional relationship with Middle Easter terrorist groups could allow the regime to do damage with such a weapon even in absence of an effective delivery system. The slow development of such ballistic missiles is something that Matthews thinks the Obama administration is counting on, among other “big calendar delays inherent in weaponization.”

But Jennifer Rubin of the Washington Post emphasizes in another editorial published Tuesday that the nuclear talks have long since abandoned the topic of ballistic missiles without putting any restrictions on Iran’s research and development or the size of its stockpile. This, she says, flies in the face of traditional wisdom about verification, as evidenced by the fact that during the Cold War both sides counted missiles, not bombs, to assess each other’s nuclear arms status.

These various criticisms, related to both the status of negotiations and the overall trustworthiness of the Iranian regime, were encapsulated by Rajavi in her speech on Saturday when she cautioned Western powers, “If you do not want a nuclear-armed fundamentalist regime, stop appeasing it.”

Such stark warnings, whether from Rajavi or other critics, have almost certainly contributed to direct action on the issue by US lawmakers. Arutz Sheva reported on Tuesday that Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee, the author of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, sent a letter to President Obama on Monday declaring that he was “alarmed” by the expansion of concessions apparently being offered to Iran by the US.

The Review Act was signed into law in May and ostensibly gives the much less Iran-friendly Congress the opportunity to reject a weak nuclear deal. But actually doing so would require a veto-proof margin, and it is unclear to what extent the Democratic Party will go along with President Obama’s policies on Iran.

 

Attempts to fast-track a bill promising more sanctions on Iran in the event of a failed deal were halted when leading Democrats agreed to give the president more time to negotiate. But both political parties expressed similar desire for oversight in their vote on the Review Act, and it is plausible to think that Democratic skepticism about the final agreement could be affected either by advocacy for or criticism against the emerging deal.