It is more than simply unfortunate that Western policymakers look at Iran and appear to see only what they want to see. They heap praise on progress in the nuclear negotiations without looking at the actual content. They tune into televised smiles and reasonable-sounding public statements from the Rouhani administration and tune out the bombastic threats, insults and anti-Western rhetoric that invariably accompanies them. They push for large-scale rapprochement with Iran on the apparent assumption that its crimes will disappear if we somehow pretend they don’t exist.
But these wishful thinkers are in the corridors of power in Washington and Westminster. Although ISIS has grown stronger thanks to the sectarian conflict that Iran has helped create, these unrealistic optimists would imply that somehow Iran is our best hope for defeating this menace. So they give in to Iranian intransigence in the nuclear talks by senselessly giving away more and more leverage.
Make no mistake, Tehran’s theocratic rulers are very well aware of this “pie-in-the-sky” illogicality. Indeed, they are counting on it. The regime’s officials are so confident in our diplomatic vulnerability that they have been trying to use the crisis in Iraq not only to obtain unearned concessions in the nuclear domain, but also to pressure the U.S., the U.K. and their allies to modify their stance against the dictatorship of Bashar Assad in Syria.
How did Iran ever get the idea that it is in a position to make such demands? Unfortunately, the President Barack Obama and coat-tailing Cameron administrations have helped to make the West look weak and overly eager to make a deal.
On October 2, 354 of the 435 members of the House of Representatives signed a letter to the Secretary of State John Kerry, emphasizing the problem of Iranian non-cooperation with the IAEA probe into “possible military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program. The letter said, “Iran’s willingness to fully reveal all aspects of its nuclear programme is a fundamental test of Iran’s intention to uphold a comprehensive agreement.” It went on to insist that Iran be made subject to unrestricted inspection in order to keep abreast of nuclear developments.
It is surely obvious that Iranian cooperation is not obtainable — or certainly not from a position where Obama is capitulating to its determined intransigence in the nuclear talks. As Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran, pointed out recently, the mullahs are engaging in deceptive tactics concentrated on finding a way out of the nuclear impasse. They are content to delay the signing of the final agreement until they can impose their objective to obtain nuclear weapons. Nothing less!
No amount of concessions can change the fact that Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, the only true authority on all matters in the Islamic Republic, has clearly stated that enrichment capability and ballistic missile stockpiles are not and never will be up for discussion. In fact any agreement that does not include the complete implementation of UN Security Council resolutions and a total halt to enrichment will leave the path open for the Iranian regime to obtain nuclear arms. Ultimately the smiling Rouhani just won’t count.
Recent election results in Washington may just signal that the U.S. electorate realises that Iran’s destructive behaviour must change and that those who just wish for changes won’t see them happen by accident. Congress will need to take the lead on this and spearhead the efforts, which will, I believe, be reciprocated amongst the more experienced MPs and Peers in both Houses of U.K. Parliament. Such practical resolution could then lead to significantly increased pressure on Tehran’s theocratic rulers, not least by initiating a total western European trade boycott against the Iranian regime.
Hence, the West must re-group until the Iranian regime abandons its uranium enrichment and accepts unhindered inspections of all of its suspected sites; stops supporting terrorism and financing fundamentalism around the world; recognises the Assad regime as a lost cause; ceases exerting its extremist influence in Iraq and shows respect for the basic rights of its own people. In addition, the West should recognise the moderate, pluralistic and democratic Iranian Resistance, NCRI, as an alternative element in opposition to the current regime in Iran, The regime won’t make any of these necessary changes on its own will.
The West must make sure that those in corridors of power in Congress and Westminster no longer look at the Iranian regime with their eyes closed, believing that the dream they have for the country will just be there waiting for them when they open their eyes again.
Lord Kenneth Maginnis of Drumglass, an independent member of the U.K. House of Lords and prominent member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.