By INU staff
INU – U.S. Attorney Deirdre Daly explained the case by saying, “The illegal export of our military technology compromises U.S. national security and reduces the advantages our armed forces currently possess.” She added that the government would aggressively pursue any persons suspected to be guilty of violations similar to Khazaee’s.
The timing of the case is conspicuously in line with Iranian war games that began with naval forces on Wednesday and continued on land on Thursday with the test-firing of what Iranian officials claimed were several new weapons systems. General Morteza Mirian, the acting commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards ground force operations commented upon the exercises by telling Tasnim News Agency, “We promise the dear Iranian nation that we will turn the entire country into a burying place for aggressors.”
The Khazaee case illustrates that Iran still has potential external resources for development of advanced weapons, and the rhetoric surrounding the latest military drills suggests that the nation is interested in utilizing such technologies for intimidation and self-aggrandizement. In fact, this most recent rhetoric fits into context with a much broader pattern of aggressive statements about Western powers, which was illustrated on Thursday by an article at Fox News highlighting the anti-Americanism surrounding the Islamic Revolution’s recent 36th anniversary.
“Just weeks before Secretary of State John Kerry held new nuclear talks with Iran’s foreign minister in Geneva, Iranians were hanging Kerry’s boss in effigy at a huge,” the article said, adding that those negotiations have been going on “against a backdrop of ongoing anti-American hatred in the Islamic Republic.”
The article went on to quote Ali Alfoneh of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies as saying that Iran is nowhere near to giving up its anti-American ideology, and that this will not change even in the event of a nuclear deal.
Ilan Berman of the American Foreign Policy Council expressed a similar sentiment, criticizing the White House for apparently approaching nuclear negotiations with the expectation that they may lead to broader reconciliation between the two countries.
To a large extent, this expectation has been based on the concept that Iran and the United States share certain mutual interests – a concept that was reiterated by Secretary of State Kerry on Wednesday in hearings before the House of Representatives. Kerry explained that the US and Iran are both interested in defeating Sunni militants of the Islamic State who are fighting in Iraq and Syria.
“They are totally opposed to ISIL and they are in fact taking on and fighting and eliminating ISIL members along the Iraqi border near Iran and have serious concerns about what that would do to the region,” he said, according to Agence France-Presse.
But Iran itself has told a different story about the conflict with ISIL along the border between Iraq and Iran. As reported by UPI on Tuesday, Iranian Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan claimed that essentially there was no conflict between the two parties near the border, but rather Iran imposed a 24 mile buffer zone and the Islamic State honored it, drawing back from the border and prompting Iran to cancel its mission to defend the region 45 days after the warning was issued.
Stories such as these lead to the perception that perhaps Iran is not motivated to destroy IS outright, but rather to simply repel it from territory over which Tehran already exerts control. This sort of analysis is particularly compelling for opponents of Islamic fundamentalism who emphasize the shared interests of IS and Iran in confronting and destroying Israel and the United States. Tehran’s recognized past cooperation with Al Qaeda and other Sunni militants suggests that these common interests do sometimes outweigh the sectarian differences between those groups and the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran.
According to an article published Thursday by the Christian Post, author and Middle East expert Joel Rosenberg recently told a convention of religious broadcasters that the common interests of IS and Iran make them even more similar to each other than to other Islamic fundamentalists. Rosenberg argued that the two entities represent not just radical Islam, but “apocalyptic Islam.”
“For the first time in human history, we now are faced with two nation-states whose leaders are driven by an end-of-the-world [theology],” he said, adding that Iran is currently the more dangerous representative of this worldview, owing to its pursuit of nuclear weapons. Rosenberg asserted that Iran seeks to become a nuclear state on the expectation that it may one day help to bring about the destruction of Israel and the United States and prompt the coming of the Mahdi, or Islamic Messiah.
But Rosenberg added that the IS threat illustrates that weapons of mass destruction are not strictly necessary to a worldview based on an apocalyptic clash of civilizations. Meanwhile, experts such as Alfoneh and Berman emphasize that restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program are unlikely to alter the government’s hardline anti-Americanism. Furthermore, the possibility of Iran importing, developing, and testing advanced conventional weapons points to a danger presented by this worldview even in absence of nuclear arms.