Dr. Majid Rafizadeh:The Iranian regime’s real intentions/Ray Hanania: Iranian resistance warns Iran’s primary goal is to build a nuclear weapon/د.ماجد رافيزادا: نوايا النظام الإيراني الحقيقية:راي حنانيا: المعارضة الإيرانية تحذر من أن الهدف الأساسي لملالي إيران هو امتلاك سلاح نووي
راي حنانيا: المعارضة الإيرانية تحذر من أن الهدف الأساسي لملالي إيران هو امتلاك سلاح نووي Iranian resistance warns Iran’s primary goal is to build a nuclear weapon Ray Hanania/Arab News/May 08/2022
د.ماجد رافيزادا: نوايا النظام الإيراني الحقيقية The Iranian regime’s real intentions Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/May 09/2022
For decades, some scholars, analysts and politicians have debated whether the Iranian regime’s nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes or for developing nuclear weapons. By examining the evidence carefully, it ought to become crystal clear that developing nuclear weapons has always been part of Tehran’s nuclear program.
Putting aside the regime’s clandestine activities over the past three decades, some Iranian leaders have rather surprisingly revealed secrets about Tehran’s nuclear activities. For example, on Nov. 29, 2021, the former head of the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, was the first Iranian official to admit that he was part of a program designed to develop nuclear weapons: “When the country’s all-encompassing growth began involving satellites, missiles and nuclear weapons, and surmounted new boundaries of knowledge, the issue became more serious for them.”
The second Iranian official to admit that Iran’s nuclear program has always had a military dimension is former Iranian Prime Minister Ali Motahari. He stated on April 20, 2022, when speaking to Iscanews in Tehran, that Iran was interested in obtaining nuclear weapons from the beginning. He pointed out that a country planning to have a nuclear program for peaceful purposes never starts with uranium enrichment, instead it creates reactors first. In other words, starting with uranium enrichment is a mistake if a country wants to secretly develop nuclear weapons: “To do enrichment directly creates the illusion that we want to make a bomb.” He added: “From the very beginning, when we entered the nuclear activity, our goal was to build a bomb and strengthen the deterrent forces but we could not maintain the secrecy of this issue, and the secret reports were revealed by a group of hypocrites.”
“Hypocrites” is a plural word often used by the Iranian regime to refer to the opposition group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran. The group did reveal Iran’s nuclear activities on several occasions, which made it extremely difficult for the theocratic establishment to hide its secret activities.
The organization first revealed Iran’s clandestine nuclear activities at two major sites, Natanz and Arak, in 2000. Due to the NCRI’s connections in Iran, its information is said to have a high level of credibility. Frank Pabian, an adviser on nuclear non-proliferation matters at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, previously told the New York Times that the NCRI is “right 90 percent of the time.”
Furthermore, in 2017, additional critical information about Iran’s nuclear activities was disclosed by the NCRI. Former US President Donald Trump followed up by saying Tehran was “not living up to the spirit of the agreement.” Michael Anton, a former spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said at the time that his colleagues were “carefully evaluating” the NCRI information. The NCRI report stated: “Reliable information … shows that the ‘nerve center’ of the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons project, responsible for designing the bomb, has been continuing its work. Following the … nuclear deal reached in 2015, not only has the unit remained in place and its activities not subsided, but it is now clear that in some fields its activities have even expanded.”
It is suspected that the Iranian regime carries out the military dimension of its nuclear program at the military site Parchin. Tehran has not allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency to inspect or monitor many of its nuclear-related sites. Tehran has disguised their true nature by labeling some of them military sites or conventional research centers. During the 2015 nuclear talks, Iran was determined that Parchin be beyond IAEA inspection.
It is incumbent on the international community to stop the regime from achieving the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
To back their claim that Iran’s nuclear program is designed for peaceful purposes, the Iranian leaders refer to a fatwa issued by Ali Khamenei banning development of nuclear weapons. But this religious statement by Khamenei is most likely a cover-up.
As former IAEA chief Mohamed El-Baradei said: “I was told by a number of people, including President Mubarak of Egypt, that according to Shiite theology it is sometimes acceptable to deceive for the right cause. The concept is called taqqiya (dissimulation), meaning to protect oneself or those under one’s care from harm. I made it clear to our Iranian counterpart that regardless of the origins of this behavior, their denials and ongoing cover-ups had deeply hurt their credibility with the international community. From the outset they had dug a hole that would undermine their own diplomatic endeavors, what I referred to as starting out with a confidence deficit.”
In a nutshell, it should have become clear that Iran’s nuclear program has a military dimension. It is incumbent on the international community to stop the regime from achieving the ability to manufacture nuclear weapons.
*Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist.Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh
راي حنانيا: المعرضة الإيرانية تحذر من أن الهدف الأساسي لملالي إيران هو امتلال سلاح نووي Iranian resistance warns Iran’s primary goal is to build a nuclear weapon Ray Hanania/Arab News/May 08/2022
Gobadi said the resistance to Iran’s brutality continues to grow, not only outside of Iran under the leadership of the NCRI but also inside
CHICAGO: Iran is close to building a nuclear weapon and is using negotiations with the West to give them more time to achieve that goal, according to Shahin Gobadi, the spokesperson for the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI).
A thermal nuclear scientist who first joined the resistance while a college student at UCLA 40 years ago, Gobadi, 60, said the NCRI, which is based in Paris, works with the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The PMOI/MEK operates inside Iran taking great risks to expose Iran’s nuclear weapons program, Gobadi said.
Without the PMOI/MEK resistance, Gobadi said, the world would never have known the true depth of Iran’s nuclear weapons program and how far it had advanced towards building a nuclear weapon.
“The Iranian resistance, mainly the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, have been the key factor, the key player that has brought the issue of the Iranian nuclear program to the international attention,” Gobadi said.
“If it were not for the Iranian resistance activities through the more than 120 press conferences and revelations regarding the secret Iranian nuclear sites, projects, facilities, the world would have been totally caught off guard regarding the mullahs’ secret drive to acquire nuclear weapons and by now the world would have been faced with a predicament of the worst regime being equipped with the worst weapon. Actually, this has been a part of our struggle of the past three decades through our vast human network inside regime, the vast network of the Mojahedin, the MEK, inside Iran taking huge risks to expose the various aspects of the mullahs’ drive to acquire nuclear weapons.”
During an interview on “The Ray Hanania Show” broadcast on Wednesday May 4, 2022, Gobadi said the resistance to Iran’s brutality continues to grow, not only outside of Iran under the leadership of the NCRI but also inside with everyday citizens protesting and engaging in significant disruptions.
“The protests and disruptions,” Gobadi said, “have been on the rise particularly during the past four years. Since January 2018 there have been eight nationwide uprisings in Iran against the regime. And in some of them like in November 2019, it caught on so quickly throughout the country, it spread to some 200 cities with people chanting ‘Down with Khamenei the Supreme Leader and down with the whole regime’.”
The mullahs, he said, responded by massacring more than 1,500 civilian protesters.
“But even that has not stopped people from coming to the streets. Or in 2021, in 21 nationwide protests and strikes teachers, who constitute more than 1 million people, have come to the streets. And also, after that, there has been a remarkable surge in the activities of the resistance which is affiliated to the Mojahedin, the MEK and their activities have been on a constant rise,” Gobadi said.
Gobadi said that everyday Iranian people “are standing up” and fueling “the continued rise of the resistance,” which makes the mullahs much “more vulnerable and much more worried” about their future.
“Since 1981 some 120,000 political activists, over 100,000 from the main resistance movement, the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the principal resistance organization, have been executed by the theocracy simply for standing firm for secular government and gender equality,” Gobadi said.
“And that includes tens of thousands of women, which is an amazing aspect of our resistance in Iran. Hundreds of thousands of others have been imprisoned and severely tortured.”
Gobadi cited many incidents of resistance inside Iran. In January, the resistance disrupted 25 of the Iran regime’s television radio channels broadcasting chants of “Death to Khamenei and “Hail to Rajavi” — who is the leader of the resistance. The same month, they set fire to statues of Qassem Soleimani in several provinces.
On April 25, more than 100 computer servers of Iran’s Ministry of Agriculture were disrupted. In the past few weeks, resistance units have repeatedly broadcast anti-regime slogans in busy locations, in large cities and in shopping malls.
Gobadi said the Iranian mullahs have not only been brutal in their response against their own people, 70 to 80 percent of whom live below the poverty line but, just as importantly, the regime is “the primary source” of international terrorism.
He called it “foolhardy” to believe a brutal regime like Iran would abandon its nuclear weapons ambitions, even if the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action is approved and the US removes the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps from the Foreign Terrorist Organization list. Iran sees the negotiations as “appeasement,” he said, rather than preventing them from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
“An agreement that does not close the regime’s path to a nuclear drive is not going to stop the drive. If the West holds firm, the regime has no choice but to concede to the West. Unfortunately, that was not the desire at the time, particularly of the Obama administration,” Gobadi said.
“And look what happened. The mullahs took billions of dollars and it all ended up in the coffers of the regime’s leaders, Khamenei in particular, or the IRGC’s top brass, or has helped to prop up the regime’s surrogates and terrorist groups in the region to increase the regime’s capability of missile program … and, the regime never, never, never gave up its nuclear weapons program.”
“Well, by far, they are the most active state sponsor of terrorism for years and years. Their tentacles have reached as far away as Europe, the US and even Latin America. Needless to say Europe, the Middle East. It’s very shocking.”
On the restoration of the JCPOA, Gobadi said, “We think such an agreement in and of itself is no guarantee that the regime does not get nuclear weapons.”
*The Ray Hanania Radio Show is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News live every Wednesday at 5 PM EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690, in Washington D.C. on WDMV AM 700. It is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 12 noon in Chicago on WNWI AM 1080.
Iran and Israel in the US-Russian Standoff
Published on May 8, 2022
Raghida DerghamStatus is online
Founder and Executive Chairman at Beirut Institute
The Iran-Israel equation has been imported into the American and Russian calculus this week, prompted by further heated developments in the Ukraine war and the nuclear talks in Vienna, where Iran is behaving like sleeping beauty, waiting to be awoken and eager to pounce on those who were the cause of its slumber.
The Western oil sanctions package on Russia expected to come in the coming days will make Iran a favorite destination for both the White House and the Kremlin for reasons related to the war. The rulers of Iran understand well the value of their oil in the war between the West and Russia, and are eager to play their cards pragmatically to advance their ideological and strategic projects, even if this were to require implicit accords that place them on the same side as Israel. Everything is on the table of Iranian foreign policy, shaped and enforced by the Revolutionary Guard and their Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Small proxy wars in battlefields like Syria and Lebanon are ready for activation at the behest of Iran, as well as direct attacks from Iran on Israeli positions identified and communicated to Israel as a warning: Iran can strike them at will.
This scenario could come if Iran decides it wants to test the seriousness of the Vienna talks and pressure the Biden administration and the European powers to fully surrender to its demands, including the US delisting the IRGC as terror group. But if the backchannel talks with Biden’s men fulfil Iran’s conditions and end the sanctions on Iran, bringing in billions of oil revenues especially if to compensate for the Russian oil embargoed by Europe, then the leaders of Iran will be ready for a major pivot in their international relations: After all, Iran’s pragmatism allows it to adapt and realign easily in any direction. In other words, Iran will not hesitate to jump off the sinking Russian ship if this serves its interests, despite Vladimir Putin’s illusions that Iran’s loyalty is strategic and permanent.
Tehran will not publicize any accords made with Israel through the US channel should it decide its interests require – a tactical and provisional – alliance with the US and European camp, which Israel joined this week against Russia’s war in Ukraine. However, this and other options are being considered, including the option of a limited military confrontation between Iran and Israel to incentivize the acceleration of the revival of the JCPOA, and the option of exploiting Europe’s need for Iranian oil to offset Russian oil.
So what will the Kremlin do? Will it give its blessing to a deal in Vienna, even if that were to come at its expense? Does it factor in its calculations the Iran-Israel accords pursued by the Biden administration? Or does it believe that getting behind an Iranian-Israeli confrontation will impede America’s projects and advance Russia’s interests?
The deterioration of Russia-Israel relations recently is linked to Ukraine, but the tensions date back to many months ago because of the Russian military’s fury with what it believes were Israeli encroachments in Syria not too far from its base in Hmeimim. The personal relationship between Putin and former Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu helped build a Russian diplomatic approach whose aim at the time was to complement the Trump administration’s push for Arab-Israeli agreements through the Abraham Accords. Russian diplomacy hoped it could pave the ground for Iranian-Israeli accords and expand the Arab-Israeli accords to states friendly to Moscow.
All this was before Putin’s adventure in Ukraine, and before the American, European, and Ukrainian pressures on Israel to take a stronger position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. All this was before Russian FM’s blundering remarks about Nazism and Jews that compelled Putin to apologize to Israel…but too late. Indeed, Israel has decided to supply advanced weapons to Ukraine that include missiles and drones, and it cannot back down despite the Russian apology.
This marks a major political and psychological blow to Russia, beyond the game-changing nature of Israeli weapons and Israel joining the camp of ‘unfriendlies’ alongside 47 other states that include the US, Europe, Japan, Australia, Canada, and others. There is also the issue of the Jewish community in Russia and the issue of rapprochement between Israel and Ukraine. All this suggests a radical change has taken place in Russian-Israeli relations.
It may have occurred to Moscow that it can use its relations with Iran to trigger Iranian-Israeli conflict in proxy arenas such as Syria and Lebanon, hoping this would embarrass President Joe Biden, and provoke US public opinion and the Jewish-American community against his administration, if he hesitates to defend Israel or goes too far in trying to appease Iran. This scenario is possible, but the decision will be up to Iran, not Moscow, unlike what the Kremlin believes. Right now, Tehran is holding on to its cards, weight each step to ensure its interests are best served. Iran stands to benefit from all circumstances, from the war in Ukraine and the Russian-Israeli falling out, to the eagerness of the Biden team and the European powers to appease Iran in return for its oil.
Some could ask why Putin would agree to a nuclear deal in Vienna, if he knew in advance that lifting the sanctions on Iran together with an embargo on Russian oil would mean a fatal blow to his energy exports. Some believe that Putin is extremely confident in his alliance with Iran’s rulers, and therefore is certain that Iran would circumvent the oil agreements and help Moscow in many ways behind the scenes.
Others see it much more simply: That it is a political imperative for Putin to appear that he has allowed the success of the Vienna talks – which has the ability otherwise to prevent – to show the world Russia is still a global player, and not a pariah. It could also simply be that Putin needs a success story at this juncture. He may find this success in the Vienna talks – if he decides that politics trump economics, or if he is really confident Iran is a permanent ally whose place is in the anti-Western troika with China.
Will the success of the Vienna talks, with facilitation from Russia, then be a message from the Kremlin to the White House, that would lead to a ‘fig leaf’ opportunity to take steps back instead of creeping towards a Third World War?
Everything is possible. Some scenarios seem more likely than others, and others are hindered by obstacles that could destroy accords, modify them, or expedite them before opposition to them accumulates and makes them impossible. The putative deal between Biden and Iran is one of those things that cannot be conclusively settled at this juncture, for several reasons.
The US Senate this week passed two bills that stressed keeping the designation of the IRGC as a terror group. 62 senators, including 16 Democrats, voted in favor of the bill put forward by Sen. James Lankford that bars the delisting of the IRGC – as Tehran demands the Biden administration do. The Senate also approved a bill put forward by Sen. Ted Cruz that would prevent the Biden administration from rolling backs sanctions on the IRGC and the Iran Central Bank, with 86 lawmakers voting in favor.
This is an important message from Congress warning Biden of the dangers of caving to Tehran and reviving the nuclear deal at the cost of ignoring Iran’s terrorist activities and destabilizing actions in the Middle East. Lankford’s bill is non-binding, but with Democrats such as Chuck Schumer and Chris Coons who is close to Biden joining those angry at concessions made by the administration to Iran, this carries implications that could either hinder or expedite a deal. In the latter case, the administration will need Israel’s help.
What kind of bargains and accords is the Biden administration working on to guarantee buy-in from Iran and Israel? The devil is in the details. What the Biden administration thinks it can achieve is a masterstroke based on the following: First, Israel’s joining of the Western camp confronting Russia with delivery of advanced weapons to Ukraine marks a victory for Biden, turning Israel from a neutral party in the war to a partner of the West against Russia. Second, separating Iran from Russia by enticing it with the lifting of sanctions, delisting the IRGC, and opening up European markets to its oil at high prices, is to the administration a strategic achievement. However, in reality these are mere risky tactical steps with long-term strategic risks not just for the Middle East but also for US interests.
Biden’s priority right now is to defeat Russia in Ukraine and beyond. It is rallying friend and foe in a game it sees as strategic but is in fact tactical, aimed at isolating Russia and toppling Putinism. Meanwhile, Putin seems no less naïve in his tactical and strategic calculations. There is no light at the end of the tunnel he took Russia into except the nuclear flash that he has started to threaten, hoping the West would give him an offramp towards rehabilitation. But this will never happen.