COUNTDOWN TO DISASTER

COUNTDOWN TO DISASTER IN IRAN

Determined to achieve a legacy agreement with Iran to put a shine on his lackluster presidency, Barack Obama signed up to a deal that far from making the world a safer place, will potentially light the fuse of the Middle East tinderbox. The nuclear deal agreed between the E3/EU+3 (China, France, Germany, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States, with the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy) and Iran, contains many clauses and annexes that seem to relate mainly to the lifting of sanctions in Iran. In return the West appears to get very little, apart from a few scant paragraphs detailing Iranian cooperation in slowing down its nuclear enrichment process for a period of eight years. It is a very bad deal for the West and a breakthrough deal for Iran. The agreement was signed in Vienna on 14th July and has to be ratified by all of the participating legislatures within 90 days. The world is facing a countdown to disaster in Iran.

The deal will release over $150 billion in assets that were frozen under the sanctions, re-vitalizing the broken Iranian economy and enabling the theocratic regime to re-double its funding of Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, Bashir al-Assad in Syria and the brutal Shi’ia militias in Iraq.  Page after page of the so-called Joint Comprehensive Plan for Action (JCPOA) relates specifically to the dismantling of all sanctions on Iran’s banking, insurance, metals, aviation, shipping, arms and general trade markets, even covering the re-opening of Iran’s right to sell carpets and caviar to the West. Ludicrously, the West must also now end its “exclusion of Iranian citizens from higher education coursework related to careers in nuclear science, nuclear engineering or the energy sector.” In other words Western universities will now train Iranians in advanced nuclear technology to ensure that they are properly equipped to build a nuclear bomb.

More ominously, the JCPOA commits the E3/EU+3 nations to supporting Iran’s crumbling economy financially with export credit guarantees, grants, financial assistance and even loans to the Government of Iran. All “persons, entities and bodies” previously banned from travelling to the West will have their full rights restored and must in future be issued with visas. The list of these persons, entities and bodies runs to more than a dozen pages and hidden away near the foot of this long catalogue of Iranian banks, petro-chemical companies, sanction-evaders and individuals is none other than General Ghasem Soleymani, the notorious commander of the terrorist Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC). Soleymani has a long history of supporting terrorism and has the blood of many Americans and Europeans on his hands, but under the terms of the JCPOA he will now be able to travel at will to Europe and America.

As far as scrutiny of Iran’s nuclear programme is concerned, regular inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) appear to be limited to the Natanz site in Isfahan Province, Iran’s main underground nuclear facility with over 19,000 operational centrifuges. Natanz itself was first revealed to Western intelligence agencies by the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI), an exiled key opposition group, in 2002; until that point it had been a closely guarded secret by the Iranian regime. In February this year the PMOI revealed another secret site called Lavizan-3 in a military base in northeast Tehran’s suburbs. Again this had been entirely hidden from Western inspectors.

However the JCPOA agreements states that: “Iran will permit the IAEA regular access, including daily access as requested by the IAEA, to relevant buildings at Natanz.” The fact that only ‘relevant’ buildings will be accessed and only at Natanz is perhaps indicative of how Iran intends to restrict inspections to the bare minimum. The West is reassured by a clause that states: For 15 years, the Natanz enrichment site will be the sole location for all of Iran's uranium enrichment related activities including safeguarded R&D.” So that’s alright then, we can trust the Iranian regime who previously hid all their nuclear facilities from the West, to centralize their nuclear enrichment processes at one site which will be open for regular inspection! How on earth John Kerry and the E3/EU+3 team fell for this is astonishing! But it should be remembered that the mullahs entered into negotiations with the West because, following the whistleblowing of the Iranian resistance, sanctions had crippled the Iranian economy. Nevertheless, for Kerry and the E3/EU+3 to capitulate to almost every Iranian demand reveals a level of weakness that will be eagerly exploited by the mullahs.

In the ‘General’ issues at the very end of the lengthy agreement we find an astounding clause under the heading ‘Nuclear Security’. Here we discover that the E3/EU+3 nations “and possibly other states, as appropriate, are prepared to cooperate with Iran on the implementation of nuclear security guidelines and practices” which will, according to the agreement, include: “Cooperation in the form of training courses and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to prevent, protect and respond to nuclear security threats to nuclear facilities and systems as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.” To be completely clear, the clause goes on to say that this will involve: Co-operation through training and workshops to strengthen Iran’s ability to protect against, and respond to nuclear security threats, including sabotage, as well as to enable effective and sustainable nuclear security and physical protection systems.”

In other words the West, together with China and Russia, will now be committed to protecting Iran’s nuclear facilities from attack by Israel or Saudi Arabia. Cynics have already suggested that the Russians, who wish to re-open a contract to supply Iran with ground to air ballistic missiles ostensibly to be used to protect their nuclear facilities, specifically inserted this clause! The situation is staggering!

To add insult to injury, the JCPOA agreement commits “Senior Government officials” of the E3/EU+3 nations and Iran to “make every effort to support the successful implementation of this JCPOA including in their public statements.” The ink was hardly dry on the agreement before Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, in a fiery address to mark the end of Ramadan in a mosque in Tehran said: “Whether this scheme is approved or disapproved, we will never stop supporting our friends in the region and the people of Palestine, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Bahrain and Lebanon. Even after this deal our policy towards the arrogant US will not change. Our policy in the region is 180 degrees different from the US," he told an audience of hardliners who cried: “Death to America” and “Death to Israel”.

So Iran’s Supreme Leader has already breached a key clause in the pact. Let this be a salutary warning to all the E3/EU+3 legislators who must now give their seal of approval to the agreement. The fascist and oppressive theocratic regime in Iran cannot be trusted. This pact should be rejected. The only way to make the world a safer place is to topple the corrupt mullahs and restore freedom and democracy to the beleaguered people of Iran.

Struan Stevenson

Struan Stevenson was a Conservative Member of the European Parliament representing Scotland from 1999 to 2014. He was President of the European Parliament’s Delegation for Relations with Iraq from 2009-2014. He is President of the European Iraqi Freedom Association (EIFA).