By Lt. Col. James Zumwalt
Following yet another senseless round of fruitless talks with Iran on its nuclear program, Tehran remains just as committed to building a nuclear arsenal as it does to killing “Alireza M.”
When Iranian President Hassan Rouhani was elected, the U.S. media labeled him a “moderate” with whom rational discussions on the issues were plausible. After the Oct. 14-15 talks — surprise, surprise, surprise — no breakthrough was achieved. Hopes of a speedy resolution of issues between Iran and the P5+1 — U.N. permanent Security Council members the United States, Russia, China, England and France plus Germany — were dashed.
Western diplomats give the talks a positive spin, suggesting they were more focused. As Tehran continues to drag negotiations out until it eventually possesses the nuclear arms capability the P5+1 seeks to prevent it from achieving, the parties agreed to yet another round of talks for Nov. 7-8.
As Western and Israeli intelligence services try to assess how much more time Iran has to buy before its nuclear capability is a fait accompli, Tehran — like a football team with a still surmountable lead — continues to “milk the clock” to keep a frustrated opponent on the defensive.
Meanwhile, the defense continues to give up ground, failing naively to recognize, once so armed, Tehran will ratchet up a more aggressive offensive game plan, pursuing its agenda more openly.
It is one Tehran has — in the past, sans nuclear arms — more discretely pursued.
Some White House advisers firmly believe a voluntary agreement with Tehran is attainable. Even if so, they would naively understand Iran’s intentions. With such an agreement, the Iranians would be exercising “taqqiya” — an art perfected by late Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini — i.e., lying to one’s enemy in furtherance of Islam.
Thus, any such agreement by Tehran will come only as a last-ditch ploy to buy critical additional time, enabling the mullahs to cross the nuclear arms goal line.
It is foolish to think after more than a decade of forward progress with its nuclear program — at great economic expense — Tehran would, so close to reaching its final goal, bring its nuclear arms program voluntarily to a halt.
Iran may even go so far as to allow inspection of its Parchin nuclear facility where, the International Atomic Energy Agency believes evidence of illegal activities may exist.
Quickly after the IAEA reported these concerns last year, satellite photographs detected Iran immediately undertaking efforts to destroy evidence. Top soil covering the site’s 62 acres was scraped away, followed by a subsequent removal effort to a deeper depth. Old soil was replaced with soil from elsewhere in an attempt to clean up the site. All IAEA requests to visit Parchin have been denied by Iran.
While U.S. President Barack Obama’s brief telephone conversation with Rouhani created false hopes a new Iranian president represented new thinking on the nuclear issue, the truth is while the face is new, the thinking is not.
(Current Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s displeasure with Rouhani about accepting Obama’s telephone call was clear from his statement “some of the events in Rouhani’s visit to New York were inappropriate.”)
Rouhani is simply Khamenei’s “closer” whose mandate is to finish the job — not to halt the nuclear program but to bring it on home to a successful weaponized conclusion.
Khamenei’s mandate was the same given previous President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But Iran’s nuclear program encountered serious delays when its computers became infected by a malware developed by the United States and/or Israel.
Recognizing now is the most critical time to lull the West into a false sense of security to complete his mandate, Khamenei has simply replaced Ahmadinejad’s dour face and belligerent attitude with Rouhani’s happy face and supposedly more cooperative attitude.
Meanwhile for Iran, it is business as usual. All it needs is time — the amount of which remains a matter of debate. For Rouhani, it is back to the same negotiating ploys he famously bragged helped him earlier deceive the West, by practicing “intelligent (meaning taqqiya) diplomacy.”
In an effort to strike a balance between U.S. soft-line critics wanting a negotiated deal and hard-line critics opposed to lifting sanctions, Obama apparently is offering the Iranians another option. While keeping sanctions in place, the United States would dole out cash to Tehran from $50 billion of its frozen assets in U.S. banks in exchange for constructive steps by Iran to shut down its program.
A similar initiative with North Korea by the George W. Bush administration failed then and will fail now.
Those wishing to believe Iran ultimately will resort to reason to avoid war lack any appreciation of the eschatological mindset driving that country’s leadership — one believing it is protected by Allah in pursuing its Islamic global domination goal.
This brings us to “Alireza M.”
Alireza, 37, is an Iranian citizen convicted of drug-related offenses. Iranian justice turns on the whims of the state, as did Alireza’s conviction. He was sentenced to be hanged. Executed in early October at Bojnourd prison, Alireza was declared dead after hanging for 12 minutes. His body was taken to a morgue for pick-up by his family.
Arriving the next day, family members were shocked to find Alireza breathing. Undeterred by a botched execution, Tehran applies the idiom, “If at first you don’t succeed …” kill, kill again, ruling the recovering survivor will be re-executed.
(Apparently, the tradition of stoning survivors who escape death being given their freedom is inapplicable to hanging survivors.)
The West must recognize Tehran is just as committed to killing this one Muslim as it is to killing millions of non-Muslims once it gains a nuclear arsenal.
A retired U.S. Marine, Lt. Col. James Zumwalt served in the Vietnam War, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Gulf War. He has written “Bare Feet, Iron Will — Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam’s Battlefields,” “Living the Juche Lie: North Korea’s Kim Dynasty” and “Doomsday: Iran — The Clock is Ticking.”