أربع مقالات باللغة الإنجليزية تحكي كل الحقائق عن النظام الإيراني الإرهابي وعن هرطقات فتاويه الإجرامية وعن محاولاته الخادعة لامتلاك قنبلة نووية/Four English articles telling All Facts About the terrorist Iranian Regime, Its criminal Fatwas and Its devious endeavors to own a nuclear bomb

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أربع مقالات باللغة الإنجليزية تحكي كل الحقائق عن النظام الإيراني الإرهابي وعن هرطقات فتاويه الإجرامية وعن محاولاته الخادعة لامتلاك قنبلة نووية

Four English articles telling All Facts About the terrorist Iranian Regime, Its criminal Fatwas and Its devious endeavors to own a nuclear bomb

The Republic of Fatwas
Mark Dubowitz &Saeed Ghasseminejad/ Newsweek/August 19/2022

Another Iran Deal? Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer/Memo/August 19/2022

Why Iran must not be rewarded
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 19/2022

The fatwa on Rushdie defined Iran’s intolerance and little has changed
Jason Rezaian/The Washington Post/August 19/2022

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The Republic of Fatwas
Mark Dubowitz &Saeed Ghasseminejad/ Newsweek/August 19/2022
Last week, a Shiite American of Lebanese origin, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, attempted to murder the Indian-born British-American author Salman Rushdie. Matar’s social media posts display staunch support of the Islamist regime in Iran and its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. Reports indicate Matar was in contact with elements of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Quds Force terrorist arm. Matar was executing former Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini’s three-decade-old fatwa, issued as a death sentence against Rushdie because of the author’s publication of The Satanic Verses, a work of fiction that radical Islamists saw as an affront to Islam and the Prophet Muhammed.
Khomeini has been dead since 1989, but his fatwa is not.
The Islamic Republic is a republic of fatwas, where “mujtahids”—those who have earned the right to issue fatwas—run or supervise the day-to-day operation of the regime under the “Vali Faqih,” or “the guardianship of the Islamic jurist,” the system’s chief mujtahid. Today, that is Khomeini’s successor, Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei. Mujtahids review any law in the country to ensure they do not run afoul of the Sharia law. Mujtahids dominate the judiciary. The supreme leader’s representatives are present in every major organization and, through fatwas, the regime governs every aspect of life in Iran, from banking to hijabs, from foreign policy to family law.
Fatwas are not limited to geographical boundaries. Khomeini’s fatwa to murder Rushdie, issued in 1989, was not just about Rushdie. It was about reshaping the world outside Iran’s border through the power of fatwa, which connects a mujtahid to any Muslim who follows him anywhere in the world. Khomeini’s successor as supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, created armies of Shia militia groups across the region through this relationship. It is through the power of fatwa that Khomeini from his grave reached Hadi Matar, born and raised in America, and inspired him to murder Rushdie.
Fatwas have shaped the history of modern Iran. In the early 19th century, Shiite clerics issued a fatwa to force the reluctant Fath Ali Shah to enter the second Russo-Persian war in 1826. Russia defeated Iran and imposed the treaty of Turkmenchay on Tehran, which ceded vast areas in the southern Caucasus to Russia. Although this fatwa did not end well, it showed the clerics they could mobilize the masses and threaten the Shah.
Islamists wielded influence through fatwas long before the 1979 Islamic Revolution as they fought monarchists and modernizers for power. Defeats in foreign wars destroyed the power of the Qajar kings who had ruled Iran from 1789 to 1925. In their wake, modernizers advocated for Iran to westernize, while the Islamists preached a return to original Islam.
The 19th century witnessed the gradual erosion of the king’s power and confrontations between the king and the clergy. The most fateful one happened during the reign of Muzaffar ad-Din Shah, which led to the constitutional revolution of 1905 to 1911 and the establishment of a parliament.
During the revolution, modernizers and Islamists worked together to limit the power of the Shah. But the honeymoon between the two groups did not last; Islamists turned on their allies. Sheikh Fazl Allah Nouri issued a fatwa against constitutionalism (“Mashorooteh”) and declared it “haram” or forbidden by Sharia law. In the ensuring civil war, constitutionalists defeated the Islamists, hanged Sheikh Fazl Allah, sent the Shah into exile, and put his son on the throne. A key slogan of the Sheikh’s supporters: “We are followers of Quran, we do not want Mashrooteh.” There is a highway named after the Sheikh in Tehran today. A martyr to Islamists, he is the spiritual grandfather of the Islamic revolution.
The fall of the Qajar dynasty and the establishment of the Pahlavi dynasty temporarily unified the modernizers and the monarchy; marginalizing the clergy became one of their key goals. Reza Shah created the modern school system in Iran, breaking the clergy’s monopoly over the education system. Even more significant was the establishment of the modern, secular judiciary in Iran. For centuries, the clergy had played the role of judge, which had offered them significant political and financial power. The new judiciary pushed them out. The loss continued under Reza’s son Mohammad Reza Shah. His “White Revolution” transferred land ownership from the landowner class, a key backer of the clergy and the monarchy, to peasants, and gave women the right to vote.
In response, Khomeini brought his followers to the streets to force the Shah to retreat. They failed; Khomeini was arrested and sent to exile. The Shah picked a Baha’i as his personal doctor, Jews such as Habib Elghaniyan played a significant role in the country’s economy, and the Shah’s sister even converted to Catholicism, a sin punishable by death. The fatwa class was on the verge of losing everything, but Khomeini was adamant to get it all back.
Khomeini saw the opportunity to establish his power and to return the fatwa to its position of political and religious influence. Historically, the “Twelver Shiite” clergy believed that the right to rule only belongs to Allah, which he transferred to the prophet and twelve Imams. Khomeini advanced a minority view that ultimately prevailed: in the absence of the hidden twelfth Imam, the clergy has the right and responsibility to establish an Islamic government based on Sharia law and executed through fatwas. The clergy’s objective is to prepare the world for the reappearance of the hidden Imam.
Khomeini’s Islamic revolution in 1979 succeeded in reestablishing the power of the clergy and the potency of the fatwa. For decades, his successor Ali Khamenei has insisted that Khomeini’s fatwa against Salman Rushdie is valid. Khamenei understands the transnational power of the fatwa. He uses it to impose his will on how millions of Muslims think, talk, and act in lands far from Iran. This week, a fatwa inspired an American to try and murder another American. The plot failed. Will the next victim be so lucky?
*Mark Dubowitz is the chief executive of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington, D.C.-based nonpartisan policy institute. Saeed Ghasseminejad is a senior Iran and financial economics advisor at FDD. Follow them on Twitter @mdubowitz and @SGhasseminejad.

Another Iran Deal? Looking Back and Looking Ahead
Jacob Nagel and Jonathan Schanzer/Memo/August 19/2022
After multiple failed rounds of nuclear diplomacy in Vienna and Doha, talks between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China) are back on in Vienna. The revived talks first hit a snag earlier this year when Tehran raised several new demands, including the removal of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) from the State Department’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list.1 Washington initially balked but reportedly then acquiesced to a partial solution: removing secondary sanctions on companies doing business with the IRGC.2
“I am absolutely sincere… when I say that Iran got much more than it could expect,” said Russian diplomat Mikhail Ulyanov back in March.3 The deal now on the table is far better for Tehran than the one to which Ulyanov referred.
Admittedly, the regime has more than once pumped the brakes on nuclear diplomacy. This intransigence signaled that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader, may not have ever wanted an agreement at all. Rather, he may seek to prolong talks to advance the regime’s nuclear program while avoiding harsh decisions by the Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Still, recent news out of Vienna suggests a deal may be imminent, with even more Western concessions.
This memo chronicles Tehran’s dangerous nuclear advances in recent years, the results of American-led diplomacy to curtail this activity, and the actions Israel has taken both to encourage greater American leverage and to hinder Iranian progress.
Iran’s Quest for a Nuclear Weapon
For more than three decades, Tehran has worked, with varying degrees of intensity, to develop a full-fledged military nuclear program. Its leaders deny this, citing a purported fatwa, or Islamic ruling, from Khamenei that abjures nuclear weapons.4 Israel ultimately proved Iran’s assertion false in 2018, when the Mossad exfiltrated from a Tehran warehouse a secret nuclear archive documenting the clerical regime’s efforts to develop a nuclear weapon.5
The archive revealed that Iran’s covert nuclear weapons program, which began in the late 1990s, was far more advanced than Western intelligence had previously assessed. One of the documents included handwritten instructions by Iranian leaders to the program’s directors, ordering them to design, build, and test five 10-kiloton nuclear warheads. Attached to the document were blueprints for a warhead and descriptions of a plan to affix it to a long-range ballistic missile.6
The regime in Iran is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which theoretically should restrict its nuclear ambitions. However, this has not stopped Tehran from building uranium enrichment facilities and concealing them from the IAEA, the UN body that monitors and verifies Iran’s nuclear commitments.7
For a country to become a nuclear-threshold state, it must develop three key components: fissile material (enriched uranium or plutonium); a weapon system to detonate the fissile material; and a delivery system to carry the weapon. Once a nation completes these steps, its acquisition of a nuclear weapon depends not on technology or capability, but only on political will and timing. In such a situation, military intervention or regime change may constitute the only means to prevent a larger crisis.
The Iranian regime has worked for years to master all three components. But progress has not been linear. In 2003, Tehran curtailed but did not end its nuclear weapons development,8 likely fearing an attack by the West in the wake of America’s invasion of Iraq. The regime may or may not have resumed those weaponization activities. If it has, it is probably keeping a low profile, mostly under the cover of academic work.
Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic has steadily added to its nuclear gains for 15 years and counting. In 2007, it initiated enrichment at the Natanz nuclear site,9 which had been covert until an Iranian opposition group exposed it in 2002.10 In 2009, the United States, the United Kingdom, and France exposed another underground enrichment site in Fordow, located in the Iranian province of Qom.11 Months later, in 2010, the regime began enriching uranium to 20 percent purity at Natanz,12 likely to gain leverage in future negotiations.
The level of 20 percent purity is significant. While a nuclear weapon requires a few dozen kilograms of uranium enriched to more than 93 percent, the time and effort to enrich natural uranium to 20 percent purity accounts for the majority of the process.
Between 2006 and 2010, the UN Security Council imposed four rounds of nuclear and economic sanctions on the regime.13 Between 2010 and 2013, Washington imposed additional sanctions that crippled the Iranian economy.14 Yet Tehran defiantly continued to expand its nuclear program, ultimately amassing large quantities of uranium enriched to 5 percent as well as a smaller amount enriched to 20 percent.15
Israel, in turn, launched what it described as the “war between wars” — an asymmetric “gray zone” campaign targeting Iranian assets related to Tehran’s nuclear and conventional military capabilities. According to various sources, this campaign included cyberattacks against Iran’s nuclear facilities.16
Fears mounted in both Washington and Tehran about a possible Israeli military strike.17 This prompted an international effort to reach an agreement that would halt Tehran’s program. Yet the more the West endeavored to meet Iran’s demands, the more the regime increased them. Tehran advanced its nuclear program and committed additional NPT violations. This was the case a decade ago. It is the case now.
Negotiations Begin
While various initiatives to engage Tehran were reported in the decade prior, the first serious effort to negotiate with the Iranian regime began in 2011. The Obama administration understood the importance of securing Israeli support for the negotiations given the threat that Iran posed to the Jewish state. The administration sought to use confidence-building measures to reassure Israel and other nervous Middle Eastern allies. Thus began a series of U.S. visits to meet with senior Israeli officials. American officials said they sought an interim deal that Iran would reject, thereby making it easier for the UN Security Council to impose additional sanctions, possibly without the objection of Russia and China.
Still, the Obama team argued that even if Iran accepted the interim plan, in full or in part, the final agreement would meet Israeli demands, based on the limitations specified by the Security Council. Jerusalem stated that the only suitable outcome would be “zero, zero, zero.” Tehran could have no enrichment facilities or centrifuge research and development (R&D); no plutonium, heavy water reactors, or separation plants; and no fissile material inside Iran.
However, while one American team was building trust with Israel, secret negotiations between the United States and Iran began in Oman in 2012.18 The talks were led by figures now holding key positions in the Biden administration: National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and CIA Director William Burns, then serving as the State Department’s director of policy planning and deputy secretary of state, respectively.19 These secret negotiation laid the foundation for both the 2013 interim agreement, formally known as the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), and the 2015 final agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).
In exchange for minimal nuclear concessions, the JPOA granted Iran — for the first time — a de facto authorization to enrich uranium,20 contravening multiple Security Council resolutions. This concession directly reneged on the Obama administration’s pledge to Israel. The agreement, designed to last six months,21 lasted two years as Iran and world powers repeatedly extended talks past self-imposed deadlines.22 The deal effectively rewarded Tehran with cash every month simply for negotiating. Billions of dollars in sanctions relief injected new life into Iran’s sanctions-battered economy.23
Israel’s Warnings
With negotiations underway, Israel formed a group of experts from the Israel Defense Forces’ Military Intelligence Directorate and Planning Directorate, the Mossad, the National Security Council, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Defense’s Political-Military Division, the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission, and the Ministry for Strategic Affairs. While Israel was not a party to the negotiations, the group of experts worked intensively with the world powers negotiating with the Iranians. Jerusalem aimed to underscore the dangers of an agreement that failed to permanently prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon.
The team of experts forwarded dozens of technical papers to the American and other negotiators. They called for an Iranian breakout time — the time needed to produce enough fissile material for one nuclear bomb — of at least several years rather than merely one year (as proposed in the talks). The Israeli experts wanted Tehran to dismantle all enrichment infrastructure and ship it out of Iran. They called for a full disclosure of the Iranian nuclear program’s “possible military dimensions” (PMD).
The experts also sought a complete cessation of Iranian R&D on advanced centrifuges, as well as assurances that Iran’s Arak reactor would not be a heavy water facility. They recommended the retention of sanctions on the Islamic Republic for at least 20 years, if not longer. These recommendations went largely unheeded.
A Deal Is Struck
The final round of talks lasted approximately nine consecutive weeks in 2015, concluding with the finalized JCPOA on July 14.24 The deal gave Iran nearly everything it wanted, primarily due to the other side’s eagerness to reach an agreement. Communication between the Israeli experts and the U.S. negotiators broke down. The Obama administration blamed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 2015 speech to the U.S. Congress — delivered against the wishes of the president — criticizing the emerging deal.25 But this was not the only reason. The discussions were simply no longer productive. The American negotiators wanted an agreement at almost any cost, and Israel’s protests were no longer welcome.
Thus, even as Tehran continued to call for the annihilation of Israel,26 the JCPOA provided the regime with a clear path to nuclear weapons and the ability to acquire the necessary infrastructure. The agreement effectively enabled Iran to become an internationally recognized and legitimate nuclear-threshold state.27 The regime also reaped a massive financial windfall, enabling an alarming increase in Iranian support for terrorist groups across the region — Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, and the Houthis in Yemen, among others.28 No less alarming for Israel: The JCPOA provided a template for other Middle Eastern countries to pursue the status of a threshold state.
Moreover, UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which endorsed the agreement, codified the JCPOA’s sunset provisions. Per the resolution, the UN arms embargo on Iran expired in 2020 even though Tehran had repeatedly violated it by sending weapons to violent proxies and terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Yemen, and Bahrain.29 Resolution 2231 also removed the ban on Iranian tests of “ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.” The resolution merely “call[ed] upon” Tehran to halt its missile development, and even that non-binding language will expire next year.30 Since 2015, Iran has tested dozens of ballistic missiles.
The Israeli Response
The Israeli cabinet issued a statement rejecting the deal on the day of the JCPOA’s finalization.31 Thereafter, the Israeli government launched a campaign to educate Congress and the broader U.S. public about the loopholes, gaps, and other flaws in the agreement.32 It was a last-ditch effort to prevent the deal from entering into force.
It was no use, however. Congress failed to muster the necessary votes to stop the agreement. By the end of 2015, the IAEA prematurely closed its investigation of the PMD of Iran’s nuclear program,33 paving the way for the JCPOA’s implementation in January 2016. The Iranian economy soon received billions of dollars in sanctions relief,34 enabling a conventional military buildup and a surge in terror sponsorship worldwide.35
Apart from concealing from the IAEA the existence of a secret nuclear weapons archive, undeclared nuclear sites, and undeclared nuclear material, Iran abided by most of its other commitments under the deal. Tehran understood that patience was all that was needed to ultimately gain a legitimized nuclear program along with massive economic benefits. This calculus was upended when President Donald Trump pulled out of the agreement in 2018.36 Before he made his final decision, however, the administration offered the Iranians opportunities to negotiate a more comprehensive agreement. They refused.37
Tehran treaded carefully at first but then substantially increased its violations following the November 2020 election of President Joe Biden, who signaled an eagerness to return to the deal and removed a credible U.S. military threat from the equation.38
Russia, China, and Europe assert that Iran’s nuclear violations were the result of Washington’s unilateral withdrawal.39 However, the most egregious Iranian violations did not occur until 2021, after Biden’s election and the subsequent renewal of negotiations.40 Tehran appeared to seek leverage for these talks.
In response, Israel has increased the intensity of its war between wars. According to a wide range of Israeli and other sources, this campaign has impeded Iran’s military expansion in Syria and limited the regime’s efforts to supply its Lebanese terrorist proxy, Hezbollah, with lethal precision-guided munitions.41 More importantly, Israel has reportedly acted against Iran’s nuclear program, eliminating senior nuclear officials42 as well as some physical components.43
Returning to the JCPOA
Israel’s shadow war notwithstanding, the regime’s nuclear advances have rendered a return to the old agreement futile. Iran’s nuclear progress since 2015, and particularly since Biden’s election, is beyond the point of containment.44 This underscores why the original deal was a mistake. The data disclosed by the nuclear archive,45 as well as new information obtained by IAEA inspectors since 2015,46 show that the JCPOA failed to account for the full range of Iranian nuclear activities, including activities that preceded the agreement.47
Between the JCPOA’s finalization and America’s 2018 exit from the deal, the Iranian regime increased uranium enrichment and added advanced centrifuges, as permitted under the agreement.48 This enabled Iran to transition to clandestine underground enrichment.49 The regime already had second-generation IR-2M centrifuges operating in the Natanz underground facility, even though the JCPOA prohibited it.50
Worse, the agreement did not bar the regime from stockpiling raw materials or producing advanced centrifuges. This undermined optimistic calculations of Tehran’s breakout time projected by supporters of the deal. Iran has already mastered the enrichment technology needed to amass enough fissile material for a weapon.
As Secretary of State Antony Blinken ceded in April 2022, Iran’s breakout time was “down to a matter of weeks.”51 Since then, the regime’s breakout time has reportedly dropped to near zero.52 A return to the original agreement as written is therefore futile.
The Failures of the IAEA
The decision to close the PMD investigation was among the West’s biggest mistakes. Today, the regime insists this issue is not open for discussion.53 Regime negotiators now demand that all IAEA investigations — new and old — be closed or written off. This is reportedly one of the remaining sticking points in Vienna.54
Regardless of the terms of any deal that is reached, the regime in Iran is much closer to a bomb than previously estimated. The IAEA has only recently reached this conclusion, thanks largely to Israeli evidence. The nuclear watchdog appears incapable of fulfilling its mandate independently.55 This alone raises troubling questions about the feasibility of a sustainable agreement, which would require reliable monitoring and verification.
A fundamental aim of the 2015 deal was to establish airtight, unprecedented inspections of Iranian nuclear sites. The IAEA’s strict inspections were supposed to be the most effective tool in the agreement.56 Yet these inspections, which never extended to military sites or sites connected to Iran’s secret nuclear-military Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, missed the nuclear archive and all the nuclear sites and activities the IAEA subsequently discovered thanks to the archive. In the meantime, the IAEA has repeatedly put JCPOA violations on the back burner for the sake of preserving the agreement.57
The IAEA director general, Rafael Grossi, has repeatedly traveled to Tehran in an attempt to reach new understandings with the regime.58 Yet Tehran has accelerated its nuclear activities, breaching not only the JCPOA but also the NPT, Iran’s Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, and the Additional Protocol. The IAEA’s failure to address these violations has severely damaged its credibility and could effectively end the agency’s status as an independent body.
The Iranian Strategy
The Iranian nuclear strategy appears to be based on four assumptions. The first is that the United States, under its current leadership, lacks the will to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. This view has yielded a second — and erroneous — belief that Israel lacks sufficient capabilities to strike Iran’s nuclear program and will not attack without American support. Third, the Islamic Republic believes its economy can withstand Washington’s current economic pressure, which is significantly weaker than the sanctions of past administrations. And finally, the regime believes it faces no meaningful internal threats to its survival. These four views explain why Tehran has not exhibited any flexibility at the negotiating table.
JCPOA-Minus Agreement
With negotiations now at a pivotal moment, Jerusalem’s primary concern is that Washington will agree to a “JCPOA-minus.” The White House is reportedly willing to offer sanctions relief that goes far beyond the JCPOA’s concessions. In particular, the Biden team has offered to lift sanctions on thousands of individuals and entities, including Iranian banks, the supreme leader, and his inner circle.59 Moreover, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Rob Malley and his team, together with some EU high officials, have explored ways to comply with the Iranian demand to remove IRGC-related entities from the FTO list despite promises from the White House to the contrary.60
Offering additional concessions to the regime is irresponsible, particularly amidst a spate of regime-inspired attacks and plots on American soil.61 Moreover, Iran is already enriching uranium at 60 percent,62 manufacturing and testing advanced centrifuges, and blocking the IAEA’s access to active nuclear sites and other locations where violations have occurred in the past.63 Tehran refuses to dismantle the advanced centrifuges it has produced in violation of the 2015 agreement.64
And the clock is still ticking. In 2027, the JCPOA’s limitations on the regime’s industrial-scale production and installation of centrifuges, including advanced ones, will expire.65 In 2031, the deal’s restrictions on Iranian fissile-material stockpiles and enrichment, including to weapons-grade, will expire, too.66 Enrichment at Fordow and the building of new enrichment plants will be permitted. The bans on processing plutonium, storing heavy water, and constructing heavy water reactors will be lifted. Tehran will be in a position to produce dozens of bombs.67
Toward A Better Agreement
Should the Biden administration wish to negotiate a deal that would truly restrain Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, it must address the three key steps for becoming a nuclear-threshold state. The IAEA should strictly prohibit Tehran from producing fissile materials and or possessing the technology needed to develop a bomb. This cannot be subject to negotiation. Without such restrictions, the Iranians will be three to five months away from a nuclear weapon — with tacit international approval.
Additionally, while the United States and Israel have long measured Iran’s nuclear progress in terms of breakout times, this concept is no longer helpful. Tehran has no intention of “breaking out” to a weapon. Rather, it will “sneak out” in undisclosed underground facilities using advanced centrifuges that enrich at much higher speeds.
Any viable deal must force the regime to come clean about its past activities, reopen the PMD investigations closed in 2015, and answer all questions stemming from new findings. The United States cannot conclude a worthwhile deal if Iran fails to confess to its past violations and fully disclose all its previous nuclear activities.
Finally, addressing the Iranian regime’s delivery systems, primarily ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads, requires more than weakly worded UN resolutions. The missile-test ban, already rendered toothless in 2015, will expire entirely in 2023. A better agreement should put a permanent stop to the development of these missiles, even if the regime says this is non-negotiable.
Recent Iranian and American Positions
In nuclear talks over the past year, Iranian negotiators introduced several new demands. In addition to its requirement to remove the IRGC from the FTO list, Tehran called for guarantees for compensation in an event of another American withdrawal.68 The regime also sought to close all the IAEA’s open files and to end all investigations, past and present.
In effort to demonstrate it has not capitulated to the regime’s terms, Washington made new demands: Tehran must commit to halt aggression in the Persian Gulf, particularly by curbing the IRGC’s activities there, and to communicate directly with Washington. The viability of such an arrangement is questionable given the regime’s past behavior and stated goal of destabilizing the region. Interestingly, U.S. efforts to reach a “longer and stronger” accord, as the Biden team promised upon his election, have ended.69
An immediate concern is that the JCPOA’s restrictions will soon sunset. In 2025, world powers will lose the “snapback” mechanism to reinstate all sanctions in response to an Iranian nuclear violation, as stipulated in the original agreement.70 Iran has already committed multiple violations to justify such a move.
The neutering of the IAEA is further undermining Washington’s ability to hold Iran to account. The IAEA has already halted its investigation of Iran’s development of uranium metal. Three other files relevant to illicit nuclear activity await Iranian explanations that will probably not materialize. If Washington and Tehran reach a new agreement, the likelihood that the IAEA will press for answers on other possible Iranian nuclear violations seems even more remote. The United States should wield its economic leverage to require the regime to come clean on its past activities.
Only one part of the 2015 agreement deals with the regime’s development of a weapon system: Section T of Annex I. However, Israeli officials believe there is a 2015 side agreement between the Russians, the Iranians, and the United States not to enforce this section. Other side agreements may have found their way into the recent talks in Vienna, further undermining the leverage needed to hold the regime to account.
Most obviously, the lifting of sanctions will erode what remains of U.S. and Western leverage to pressure the regime to end its nuclear ambitions. This was a fatal flaw of the last agreement, and complicates the deal currently being negotiated.
A Bipartisan Opportunity
Earlier this year, 165 House Republicans published a letter to President Biden vowing that a new deal would meet the same fate as the JCPOA if he fails to secure congressional support pursuant to the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.71 This law, passed in May 2015, requires the president to submit any deal to the House and Senate for approval. Forty-nine out of 50 Republican senators issued a similar warning in another letter.72
In light of Iran’s continued intransigence, Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree that further concessions are a bad idea. Skeptical Democrats should deliver the message to the White House that capitulating to Iran is extremely dangerous.
The Head of the Octopus
Israel, for its part, is expected to intensify its asymmetric campaign, enlisting the integrated tools and skills of multiple Israeli agencies to weaken Iran in the economic, diplomatic, military, political, cyber, and legal arenas. The message from Jerusalem to Tehran has been blunt: Gone are the days when the “head of the octopus” remained untouched while the regime’s terrorist tentacles destabilized the Middle East.73 Israel’s decision to strike Iran at home, as opposed to merely batting its proxies, was a shift first articulated in former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 2018 updated National Security Strategy. The essence of the strategy has since been embraced by Netanyahu’s successors, Prime Ministers Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.74
The Israeli campaign also includes efforts to inform the international public, primarily in the United States, about the dangers posed by a nuclear Iran. That campaign has a long way to go from Israel’s perspective. The American people largely do not understand that a nuclear-armed Iran could soon pose a threat to the United States once the regime acquires intercontinental ballistic missiles.
Conclusion
Renewed talks and side negotiations in Vienna present Washington with a stark choice. It can acquiesce to the regime’s demands and empower a terrorist state with nuclear ambitions. Or it can devise a joint plan with Israel and other Middle Eastern allies to push Iran to embrace a new and completely comprehensive agreement. The goal must be to permanently and verifiably block the regime’s path to a nuclear weapon. Such a deal would restore American and IAEA credibility in the region while preventing a slide toward war.
*Brigadier General (Res.) Jacob Nagel is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) and a visiting professor at the Technion Aerospace Faculty. He previously served as acting national security adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and as head of Israel’s National Security Council. Jonathan Schanzer is senior vice president for research at FDD and a former terrorism finance analyst at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

Why Iran must not be rewarded
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh/Arab News/August 19/2022
Rewarding or appeasing a rogue state generally comes in two distinct forms: Total disregard of the regime’s destructive behavior regionally and globally, and the lifting of political pressure and economic sanctions on the state in question.
Unfortunately, when it comes to Iran, the current US administration appears to be pursuing both forms of appeasement, which may have severe repercussions for US national security, as well as regional security, peace and stability.
The Biden administration should refrain from negotiating with a rogue regime that is actively trying to carry out terrorism on American soil during the negotiations. Recently, a member of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, Shahram Poursafi, aka Mehdi Rezayi, 45, of Tehran, was charged with a terrorist plot that involved offering an individual in the US $300,000 to murder a former US government official, John Bolton. The US Department of Justice said: “This should serve as a warning to any others attempting to do the same — the FBI will be relentless in our efforts to identify, stop, and bring to justice those who would threaten our people and violate our laws.”
Bolton previously served as the 25th US ambassador to the UN from 2005 to 2006 under the Bush administration and as the 26th US national security adviser from 2018 to 2019 under the Trump administration. Mike Pompeo, the former US secretary of state, was believed to be the second target of the Iranian regime, with the IRGC member reportedly offering $1 million for this future “job” to be completed.
When it comes to the Islamic Republic, orders to carry out extraterritorial assassinations most likely come from the top of the political ladder.
If the White House does not send a strong message to the Islamic Republic by halting the nuclear talks, Iranian leaders will be further empowered and emboldened to plan assassinations on American territory. Steven D’Antuono, assistant director in charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, said: “An attempted assassination of a former US government official on US soil is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated.” His statement should be followed up with tangible action from the White House against the Iranian regime.
When it comes to the Islamic Republic, orders to carry out extraterritorial assassinations most likely come from the top of the political ladder.
The regime is not only targeting former US officials on American soil but also Iranian activists who criticize the theocratic establishment. For example, the regime was caught plotting to kidnap a US citizen in Brooklyn in July 2021, an active violation of US sovereignty. US prosecutors have charged four Iranians, Alireza Shavaroghi Farahani, aka Vezerat Salimi/Hajj Ali, 50; Mahmoud Khazein, 42; Kiya Sadeghi, 35; and Omid Noori, 45, all believed to be intelligence operatives for the Iranian regime, with plotting to kidnap the journalist and activist Masih Alinejad, who has dual US-Iranian citizenship.
A fifth person, Niloufar Bahadorifar, a California resident, again originally from Iran, was charged with providing financial assistance for the plot, sanctions violations conspiracy, bank and wire fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy. Audrey Strauss, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York at the time, said: “As alleged, four of the defendants monitored and planned to kidnap a US citizen of Iranian origin who has been critical of the regime’s autocracy, and to forcibly take their intended victim to Iran, where the victim’s fate would have been uncertain at best.”
It is worth noting that the nuclear deal will lead to the removal of major economic sanctions against the Islamic Republic, and will enhance its global legitimacy, unfreeze Tehran’s assets, and give the ruling clerics access to the global financial system.
The regime will likely first use the extra revenue to increase its military budget and terror activities abroad. It will then likely escalate Iran’s interference in the domestic affairs of other countries. This occurred after the 2015 nuclear deal when Tehran’s military involvement in Iraq steadily rose. The regime also became more forceful in supporting and assisting the Syrian government, militarily and economically, as well as providing intelligence and acting in an advisory role. Sanctions relief, as a consequence of a return to the nuclear accord, would help Iran’s IRGC and elite Quds force, which focuses on extraterritorial operations, to buttress the regime’s proxies, including Hezbollah, the Houthis and Iraqi Shiite militias.
In a nutshell, it is incumbent on the Biden administration to hold the Iranian regime accountable and send a strong message to its leadership, otherwise Tehran’s brazen attempts to kill US citizens on American soil will continue.
• Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is a Harvard-educated Iranian-American political scientist. Twitter: @Dr_Rafizadeh

The fatwa on Rushdie defined Iran’s intolerance and little has changed
Jason Rezaian/The Washington Post/August 19/2022
On a freezing February afternoon in 2005, Christopher Hitchens and I took the Tehran metro to the end of the line: Behesht-e Zahra, one of the world’s most populated cemeteries. Looking out at the seemingly endless rows of tombstones, and unsure of where to begin, we hired the lone taxi we found to drive us around the sprawling grounds.
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The driver, a veteran of the Iran-Iraq War, guided us through some of the high-profile burial areas reserved for martyrs to the cause of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s Islamic revolution.
Then he stopped at a grave and read the inscription. The man buried there was “martyred” in a demonstration against author Salman Rushdie, whose 1988 novel “The Satanic Verses” sparked outrage in parts of the world for what some readers considered a blasphemous depiction of Islam. The man had apparently died in a stampede of enraged protesters who supported Khomeini’s 1989 fatwa against the writer.
Hitchens listened and asked a couple questions, which I translated. Then he drew in a very deep breath into his stuffed, smoky sinuses and spat empathically on the tombstone.
I’d never seen anyone do that before. In the moment it felt extreme, but few people, if anyone, understood better than Hitchens how Khomeini’s edict — a full-frontal assault on the notion of free expression — had upended his friend’s life.
Eugene Robinson: My dinner with Salman Rushdie
Our guide was taken aback, but it didn’t stop him from continuing the tour.
The following day, Hitchens called Rushdie from Tehran on what happened to be the 16th anniversary of the fatwa. “Or Valentine’s Day, as most people know it,” Rushdie told me when I recounted this story to him, the one time we met.
I have thought about that episode in the cemetery a lot since hearing of the attack on Rushdie by a U.S. citizen who was born almost a decade after Iranian authorities unleashed a torment of violence on a man — and anyone associated with him — over a work of fiction.
Since the fatwa, there have been attempts to blow up bookstores. The Japanese translator of “The Satanic Verses,” Hitoshi Igarashi, was murdered in 1991 at the university outside Tokyo where he taught Islamic Studies.
No matter one’s views on faith and religion, there’s no question the attack on Rushdie was an attack on the very idea of a free and open society. Sadly, worryingly, the fact that that must be emphasized is a sign of how far we have strayed from those ideals.
“Religions, like all other ideas, deserve criticism, satire, and, yes, our fearless disrespect,” Rushdie said after the 2015 terrorist attack on the office of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Although levels of tolerance have eroded in the United States, we can’t ignore the role the intolerant ideology of the Islamic republic and its mouthpieces may have played in the attack, directly or indirectly.
Matt Bai: The attack on Salman Rushdie is a warning about where we’re headed
On Monday, Iran denied any link to the stabbing but was quick to blame Rushdie and his supporters for the attack that left him with serious wounds.
“We do not blame, or recognize worthy of condemnation, anyone except himself and his supporters,” a spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Nasser Kanaani, said in a televised news conference.
Arguments by pro-engagement officials and observers claiming that the death mark on Rushdie ceased to be official Iranian policy are irrelevant. More so now after Iran’s statement. I know what it means to be a target of this brutal propaganda machine, and there is nothing subtle about its intent to do harm.
Some reports, citing unnamed intelligence officials, claim the suspect, 24-year-old Hadi Matar, had contact with members of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’s Quds Force. But even if Iranian officials were not directly involved in planning the attack, as they claim, the Islamic republic was the inspiration, and it bears some of the responsibility for what happened.
Cartoon by Ann Telnaes: Sticks and stones
Put bluntly, the attack was an act of state-promoted terrorism.
The attempt on Rushdie’s life, and Tehran’s disgusting response to it, are important reminders of Iran’s inability to adhere to international laws and norms. It considers critics, dissidents and anyone who questions its worldview to be subhuman, unworthy of basic protections, a target to be eliminated.
The essential fact is that a great champion of free expression was violently attacked and severely wounded for daring to continue to express himself. No amount of whitewashing or politicizing will change that truth.

Biden Administration and Iran Empowering Rushdie’s Attackers
Khaled Abu Toameh/Gatestone Institute/August 18/ 2022
“Whenever they (Islamists) disagree with a woman, they accuse her of treason, threaten her with rape and torture, and bully her family.” — Ghada Oueiss, Lebanese journalist, to Lebanese television presenter Dima Sadek’s 1.1 million followers on Twitter, after she received death threats for criticizing the stabbing of author Salman Rushdie; Twitter, August 14, 2022.
“Get out of the Middle Ages and learn how to live with other people’s opinions.” — Antoine Haddad, Lebanese academic, to people threatening Sadek, Twitter, August 14, 2022.
Sadek has good reason to be worried for her life. Most of the threats she received came from supporters of Hezbollah, the terrorist group that effectively controls Lebanon and reports directly to the mullahs in Iran.
On the same day that Sadek was receiving threats of murder and rape, Taliban militiamen in Kabul beat women protesters and fired into the air. The women [were] chanting “Bread, work and freedom….”
It is the mullahs of Iran, whose media has welcomed and praised the stabbing attack on Rushdie, that are inspiring, funding and arming Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Yemeni Houthis and other Islamist terrorist groups around the world.
In July, Iran executed at least 71 prisoners, including four women, according to the Iran Human Rights Monitor. Most of the women executed in Iran are themselves victims of domestic violence and commit murder in self-defense, the group noted.
Without the Biden administration’s support for the mullahs, these groups would not be threatening to rape and kill women. Without the Biden Administration’s support for the mullahs, these groups would not be launching drone and missile attacks on America’s allies.
These are the same mullahs who are now hoping that the Biden administration will reward them with hundreds of billions of dollars as part of a new nuclear deal between Iran and the Western powers.
The mullahs will undoubtedly use the money to continue their campaign of murder and intimidation. They will also use the money to consolidate their occupation of four Arab countries – Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen – and continue their savage persecution not only of their own people, but also of women and journalists such as Dima Sadek and Hasan Shaaban.
It is the mullahs of Iran, whose media has welcomed and praised the stabbing attack on Salman Rushdie, that are inspiring, funding and arming Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Yemeni Houthis and other Islamist terrorist groups around the world. Without the Biden Administration’s support for the mullahs, these groups would not be launching drone and missile attacks on America’s allies. Pictured: Rushdie in 2018.
Iran’s proxies and loyalists are threatening to murder renowned Lebanese media personality Dima Sadek because she dared to criticize the stabbing of Indian-born British-American novelist Salman Rushdie in Chautauqua, New York last week.
Since the stabbing attack, Sadek has been subjected to a campaign of incitement and threats of murder and rape through social media posts and text messages sent to her personal phone number.
The threats began immediately after she posted on Twitter a picture of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the first “Supreme Leader” of Iran, and Qassem Soleimani, the Iranian Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps commander assassinated by the US in Iraq in 2020.
Sadek wrote on top of the picture: “The Satanic Verses.” That is the name of the Rushdie’s novel, inspired by the life of the Islamic prophet Mohammed, and published in 1988.
The next year, Khomeini called for Rushdie’s death through a fatwa (religious decree) that urged “Muslims of the world rapidly to execute the author and the publishers of the book,” so that “no one will any longer dare to offend the sacred values of Islam.”
Hours later, Sadek posted on her Twitter account that she has received death threats and was facing a campaign of incitement, especially from the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah and its supporters in Lebanon.
“Since the morning, I have been subjected to an incitement campaign that has reached the point of publicly calling for bloodshed,” Sadek wrote.
“The campaign was launched by Jawad Hassan Nasrallah (son of the Secretary-General of Hezbollah). Therefore, I hope to consider this tweet as a message to the Lebanese authorities. I also publicly and officially hold the leadership of Hezbollah fully responsible for any harm that may happen to me from now on.”She also posted on Twitter a sample of the threats directed at her. “Hey Dima Sadek, I would like to tell you that if I happen to see you one day, I’m going to rape you in front of everyone,” wrote Nabil Kobaisi, a Lebanese man.
Another threat, from Lebanese citizen Hassan Al-Ali, included Sadek’s picture with the comment: “You are next [after Salman Rushdie].”
Expressing outrage over the threats, Lebanese journalist Ghada Oueiss wrote to her 1.1 million followers on Twitter: “Whenever they [Islamists] disagree with a woman, they accuse her of treason, threaten her with rape and torture, and bully her family.”
Lebanese academic Antoine Haddad also lashed out at Hezbollah and other Islamists around the world for threatening the TV presenter:
“The organized campaign against Dima Sadek is an extension of the culture of letting the blood of Salman Rushdie and everyone who disagrees with them. Get out of the Middle Ages and learn how to live with other people’s opinions.”
Sadek has good reason to be worried for her life. Most of the threats she received came from supporters of Hezbollah, the terrorist group that effectively controls Lebanon and reports directly to the mullahs in Iran.
The terrorists and their masters in Tehran may still have not issued a fatwa to murder her, but the threats alone are sufficient to force her and her family to change their lifestyle and probably live in hiding or under protection, as Rushdie had to do for more than three decades.
The Lebanese have long learned that threats by Hezbollah should never be taken lightly. This is the same group whose members have been convicted of conspiring in the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a 2005 bombing in Beirut. Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, had close ties with the West and Sunni Gulf countries. He was seen as a threat to Iranian influence in Lebanon.
Hezbollah, in addition, has a long history of intimidating anyone who dares to criticize it or its leaders.
Recently, supporters of Hezbollah attacked Lebanese journalist Hasan Shaaban while he was covering a sit-in strike by villagers protesting against the water shortages to their town.
Shaaban told the Al-Araby Al-Jadeed news website that he was attacked by supporters of Hezbollah while filming a protest against the water crisis that the town has been suffering from for a long time. He added that a group of people severely beat him and threatened to kill him if he did not leave town.
He said that despite the threats and a bullet that was placed on the window of his car, he will continue to do his job.
On the same day that Sadek was receiving threats of murder and rape, Taliban militiamen in Kabul beat women protesters and fired into the air. The women, chanting “Bread, work and freedom,” marched in front of the education ministry building in the Afghani capital before the militiamen dispersed them by firing their guns into the air. Some women who took refuge in nearby shops were chased and beaten by Taliban thugs with their rifle butts.
“Just like the Mullahs [of Iran], Taliban’s main enemies are women and freedom of speech,” commented Nervana Mahmoud, a respected Egyptian political commentator on Islamism.
In another post, Mahmoud pointed out that she saw no real difference between the various Islamist terrorist groups:
“Salafis, Taliban, Mullahs, [Muslim] Brotherhood, Haqqanis [an Afghan Islamist group] , may have theological differences among themselves, but they all agree on three things: Murder for Blasphemy, Endorsing misogyny, rejecting free speech. The rest is gibberish !
The stabbing of Salman Rushdie and the threats against the Lebanese female journalist should be as part of the Islamists’ ongoing jihad (holy war) against anyone who dares to disagree with them or even criticize them.
It is the mullahs of Iran, whose media has welcomed and praised the stabbing attack on Rushdie, that are inspiring, funding and arming Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Yemeni Houthis and other Islamist terrorist groups around the world.
In Iran, the mullahs have stepped up their efforts to enforce hijab compliance as part of a wider clamp-down on dissent.
In July, Iran executed at least 71 prisoners, including four women, according to Iran Human Rights Monitor. Most of the women executed in Iran are themselves victims of domestic violence and kill in self-defense, the group noted.
Without the US support for the mullahs, these groups would not be threatening to rape and kill women. Without the US support for the mullahs, these groups would not be launching drone and missile attacks on America’s allies.
These are the same mullahs who are now hoping that the Biden administration will reward them with hundreds of billions of dollars as part of a new nuclear deal between Iran and the Western powers.
The mullahs will undoubtedly use the money to continue their campaign of murder and intimidation. They will also use the money to consolidate their occupation of four Arab countries – Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen – and continue their savage persecution not only of people such as Salman Rushdie, Dima Sadek and Hasan Shaaban, but also women, their own citizens, and eventually “The Great Satan.”
*Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.
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