Suzanne Maloney provides “an anatomy of Iran’s eleventh-hour nuclear negotiating strategy.” She admits that, by “sticking to its guns, Tehran has gone from supplicant to sought-after in the talks, with Washington and its allies scrambling to devise formulas that might meet the supreme leader’s imperious mandates”:
Still, it seems unlikely to me that Washington will acquiesce to Iran’s obstinacy on enrichment. The Obama administration has already extended major concessions to Tehran in devising a formula that Tehran could claim acknowledged its nuclear rights and in backing away from previous American insistence on a suspension or end to all enrichment on Iranian soil. Any deal that fails to redress the breakout timeline would gainsay a decade of efforts to deter Iran from nuclear weapons capability, as well as the strong preferences of America’s regional allies.
And more importantly, I think the presumption that the Obama administration is so desperate for a foreign policy victory, so feeble in its assertion of American interests and the security of our allies, or so eager for Iranian cooperation on other regional challenges that it will accept a hollow deal represents a profound misinterpretation of this administration’s foreign policy and the capabilities of the United States.
For that reason, I believe that Tehran’s four-point hedging strategy is a dangerous bluff, and one that will ultimately fail. I suspect that will not prove the end of diplomacy with Iran, but neither will it facilitate the end of Iran’s self-imposed forfeiture of its rightful place in the world.
Gareth Porter maintains that the “key to understanding Iran’s policy toward nuclear weapons lies in a historical episode during its eight-year war with Iraq”:
The story, told in full for the first time here, explains why Iran never retaliated against Iraq’s chemical weapons attacks on Iranian troops and civilians, which killed 20,000 Iranians and severely injured 100,000 more. And it strongly suggests that the Iranian leadership’s aversion to developing chemical and nuclear weapons is deep-rooted and sincere.
A few Iranian sources have previously pointed to a fatwa by the Islamic Republic’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, prohibiting chemical weapons as the explanation for why Iran did not deploy these weapons during the war with Iraq. But no details have ever been made public on when and how Khomeini issued such a fatwa, so it has been ignored for decades.
Now, however, the wartime chief of the Iranian ministry responsible for military procurement has provided an eyewitness account of Khomeini’s ban not only on chemical weapons, but on nuclear weapons as well. In an interview with me in Tehran in late September, Mohsen Rafighdoost, who served as minister of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) throughout the eight-year war, revealed that he had proposed to Khomeini that Iran begin working on both nuclear and chemical weapons — but was told in two separate meetings that weapons of mass destruction are forbidden by Islam.
Since the Senate GOP is opposed to a final agreement with Iran that doesn’t include their impossible conditions, the prospect of their takeover could adversely affect the final stage of the negotiations this year. If the Iranians see that Republicans are poised to win control, they might be more likely to stall or walk away from the talks all together. In the worst case, there might be no deal because the Iranian side assumes that the U.S. won’t be willing to fulfill the rest of its side of the bargain, or there could be a deal reached that is then blown up a few months later as it becomes clear that there will be no action on sanctions relief from Congress.