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Hassan Rouhani & Barack Obama

 What is the essence of true negotiations? Obviously it is the readiness of both sides to compromise. For the negotiations to succeed, each side must give up something in return for something else that values more. But just think about it: is this the case between the US and Iran? Did America simply wake up one morning and decide to lead a campaign of crippling sanctions against the Islamic Republic for no good reason. So maybe it will be about America's meddling in Iran's internal affairs and the Iranians taking American diplomats in Tehran hostage in 1971? Not really. It's all about Iran's nuclear weapons program and America's subsequent sanctions action at the UN. Reading between the lines, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has told the UN General Assembly that 'constructive engagement' should result in the lifting of those sanctions. But flying in the face of the evidence, perish the thought that Iran has been advancing toward its first A-bomb! Rouhani told the General Assembly that, contrary to the US state Department's branding Iran as the world's number one state sponsor of terrorism, his country is anything but. Back home in Tehran, what might Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and his Revolutionary Guards, who really call the shots, be ready to concede? Here are some IsraCast suggestions: 


  • Limiting the size of their future nuclear weapons so that only half of Tel Aviv would be obliterated by one Iranian A-bomb  
  • Slowing down the pace of their nuclear weapons development by shutting down their new uranium enrichment facility at Fordow
  • Agreeing to a ban on 'suitcase' nuclear weapons that could be more easily smuggled into American or European cities by terrorists 
  • An Iranian commitment not to arm Hezbollah with 'dirty' nuclear devices 
  • A similar commitment not to arm Iran's ally, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, with nuclear weapons


Iran's supreme dictator Ayatollah Khameini

 Obviously, this nonsense is simply to prove a point. Contrary to Rouhani's statement, this is a 'zero-sum game' similar to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962, when US President John Kennedy ordered the Russians to remove their missiles from Cuba.  There was no negotiating over which type of missiles might remain or in what quantity, et cetera. Kennedy's quid pro quo was no American bombing of Cuba. So, all Iran has to do to get rid of the sanctions and further its constructive engagement with the West is to start opening all its nuclear installations to UN inspectors. Unless and until that happens, look for the upcoming talks to be a more refined replay of the decade of fruitless negotiations with Iran that have achieved nothing, and with no happy diplomatic end. Meanwhile, the IAEA has issued more warnings that Iran is conducting more research on nuclear weapons and increasing its banks of centrifuges for enriching uranium. But Rouhani has repeatedly demonstrated his ability of moderating his master's voice, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. You don't have to be a strategic Sherlock Holmes to see the sanctions are sending Iran's economy into a tailspin with the possibility of another public wave of unrest and violence. Realizing this and needing some more time to get their hands on their first A-bomb, Khamenei has now been speaking of 'heroic flexibility'. This translates into the mission of, so-called, moderate Hassan Rouhani - to gain more critical time by conceding some minor aspects of the nuclear weapon project. Khamenei has described this in terms of wrestling, a favorite Iranian sport: 'A wrestler shows flexibility for technical reasons, but he doesn't forget who his opponent is, and what his real goal is!' In his opposing corner is Big Satan – America, and who else but Little Satan - Israel. 

Iranian Missiles

 Rouhani flatly rejected any notion that his country was developing an A-bomb: ‘Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran's security and defense doctrine'. Okay, talk is cheap in the Middle East. Syria's President Bashar al Assad has categorically denied using chemical weapons against civilians but has now agreed to get rid of them, after he never even used them in the first place. The Iranian President was all sweetness and light: 'My country has been a harbinger of just peace and comprehensive security'. Let him tell that to the families of the 120,000 Syrians murdered with the aid of Iranian forces and Hezbollah, which were probably dispatched to fight for Assad on Tehran's instructions. And how did Rouhani's pep talk go over with the estimated two million Syrian refugees scattered over neighboring countries?

Iranian Revolutionary Guards in parade (photo credit: M-ATF, from military.ir and iranmilitaryforum.net)

 Then there's the formidable Revolutionary Guards, whose task is to protect Iran's Islamic government - the regime has its own private army to keep it in power. Before Rouhani took off from Tehran for New York, the commander gave the President his marching orders: in effect, see to it that 'the righteous demands of our nation are recognized and respected!' In Iran, no one is more gung-ho for the A-bomb than the Revolutionary Guards, and you mess with them at your peril! 

David Essing

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