Iran’s Rouhani gets his way on nuclear weapons

88ad8d94a59945f5834389217a9e0004-88ad8d94a59945f5834389217a9e0004-0By Yehuda Yaakov for the Boston Globe JULY 20, 2015

For more than a decade I have had the opportunity to be intimately involved with the Iranian crisis. So it’s probably understandable how alarming I find the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.

The agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran makes far-reaching concessions in all areas meant to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons capability. It does not adequately limit Iran’s research and development capabilities. It does not exclude to a sufficient degree Iran’s weaponization activity. It does not ensure a tight enough monitoring and verification mechanism.

The deal impairs Israel’s national security. It prominently bears the fingerprints of perhaps the most intriguing Iranian figure of this 13-year crisis: Hassan Rouhani. President of Iran since August 2013, it was Rouhani who originally devised his country’s nuclear negotiating strategy when Tehran’s illicit nuclear activities were uncovered in August 2002. It is Rouhani who shepherded the crisis to the conclusion he always sought.

Rouhani, a long-standing member of the Islamic Republic’s inner circle, has had a career that mirrors the strategic development of his country and indicates a close familiarity with its military nuclear program. The previous highlight of this career was the period between 1989 and 2005, when he led Iran’s National Security Council. During that time — especially from 2003 to 2005 — he repeatedly maneuvered the international community to ensure the program’s advancement. He did this mostly by exploiting his interlocutors’ strong desire to resolve the crisis — and by reaching agreements he would later break.

When Rouhani campaigned for president, his platform was explicitly based on a belief that his strategy had worked, and that Iran would find its way out of sanctions if only he were elected and given the necessary leeway. It is therefore no surprise that within hours of the deal, he tweeted:

[This admin believes in dialogue. I myself headed the very first #nuclear

negotiating team back in 2003–when no sanctions had been imposed.

4:32 AM – 14 Jul 2015]

This was apparently Rouhani’s way of saying: I promised, I delivered.

Indeed, he has.

Rouhani is known not only for his adept handling of nuclear negotiations; among experts, he is also famous for bragging about his success afterwards. So it was in late 2004, when he revealed a dozen or so areas of concrete advancement made in the nuclear program even as Iran was supposed to be fulfilling its negotiated commitments.

It was the same on the day this new agreement was announced, when he publicly made it clear that Iran had achieved the four objectives it set out to attain: advancing its nuclear activities, lifting sanctions, canceling UN Security Council resolutions, and closing the UN’s Iranian nuclear file. In other words, to paraphrase Rouhani, the international community is removing sanctions, while Iran is keeping its nuclear program.

One more word about Rouhani: He’s no pacifist. He hasn’t shied away from expressing public support for Bashar al-Assad, Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Hamas, and the lot. He has also threatened Israel, and more than once.

So it was no surprise to see this tweet on the day many in the international community were celebrating the supposed dawn of a new era:

[To our neighbours: Do not be deceived by the propaganda of the

warmongering Zionist regime. #Iran & its power will translate into

your power 5:06 AM – 14 Jul 2015]

Rouhani understands the weight of this “power” and knows all too well what Iran’s military nuclear program is for. He is also aware that nuclear capabilities in Tehran’s hands will undermine regional security in the Middle East.

Israel knows this too.

Iran continues to seek our destruction. We are not bound by this deal with Tehran. Plain and simple.

Yehuda Yaakov is Israel’s consul general to New England.

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