Meanwhile, Iran continues to manipulate neighboring Iraq, which critics say has become virtually a client state of the mullahs in Tehran. Iraq, which like Iran is governed by Shiite Muslims, has allowed Shiite militias to commit war crimes against civilians and launch attacks against Iraqi Sunni Muslims, Amnesty International reported this week. Iraq, despite a change in governments, is still repressing Iranian dissidents confined to an overcrowded refugee camp near Baghdad.

Those developments come as the terrorist army of the Sunni-led Islamic State of Iraq and Syria continues its rampage toward the Iraqi capital and against a key town on the Syrian-Turkish border.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Catherine Ashton, the top foreign policy diplomat from the European Union, met for more than six hours with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif in Vienna on Wednesday. The meeting achieved little more than excuses. Commenting on prospects of a permanent deal with Iran, Kerry said, “I don’t believe it’s out of reach, but we have some tough issues to resolve.” Kerry returned to Washington on Thursday, leaving a U.S. negotiating team to continue talks with Iranian officials. 

LIGNET last month warned that the United States might be tempted to make too many concessions to Iran to get what President Obama believes would be a major foreign policy achievement. Obama has “proposed unusually generous compromises” with Iran in hopes of reaching a deal before the end of November. In that analysis, LIGNET also predicted that “Iran will continue to hold out for a better deal” and that the Nov. 24 deadline will likely be extended.

An exiled Iranian cleric this week warned the West not to be fooled by Iranian tricks in negotiations over the nuclear program. Ayatollah Ganje’i dismissed a claim by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, who issued a religious ruling that the use of nuclear weapons would violate the Koran. Ganje’i, a supporter of the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran, insisted that the Muslim holy book contains no such prohibition against Muslims using any means necessary in war to achieve their goal. 

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani repeated Khamenei’s purported “fatwa,” or religious ruling, in a speech to the U.N. General Assembly. The claim refers to a statement that Khamenei issued in February 2010, when he declared, “We don’t believe in the atomic bomb . . . It destroys mankind, and the Koran has prohibited it.”

However, Ganje’i dismissed that statement as little more than a “political gimmick.” He said Khamenei misinterpreted the Koran and added that a fatwa has little real impact. “A fatwa is only binding for the followers of the religious scholar who issues it . . . In addition, there is no punishment for failing to adhere to a fatwa,” Ganje’i said.

The Amnesty International report condemns the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi for allowing Shiite militias to kill Sunni civilians “under the guise of fighting terrorism.”

“By granting its blessing to militias who routinely commit such abhorrent abuses, the Iraqi government is sanctioning war crimes and fueling a dangerous cycle of sectarian violence that is tearing the country apart,” said Donatella Rovera, the group’s crisis-response adviser.

 James Morrison is a senior editor for Newsmax in Washington and a former deputy foreign editor and foreign correspondent for the Washington Times.