Every time I hear a public official or an expert state that the current negotiations with Iran should be about the nuclear issue and nothing else, I find it similar to someone being spat at, insulted and hit by an assailant, and then being told: “We shall discuss and deal only with the insults and will look into the spitting and violence separately, as these are different issues” — as if this would make things better and safer. It makes absolutely no sense. In fact, the experts who justify the negotiating team’s views and rationale always look through a single lens, forgetting Iran’s general behavior.

Similar to 2015, I am convinced everyone knows exactly what Iran is up to yet decides to look the other way. They look the other way for the symbolic diplomatic win, the positive economic windfall for European companies and, now more than ever, the potential access to Iranian gas. I also believe the US and the West have never wanted to break Iran for geopolitical balance in the region. All these are valid and acceptable reasons. What is not acceptable is the hypocrisy and the way these negotiations and potential deal are framed, simply because it exacerbates the Iranian regime’s aggressive behavior and institutionalizes its extortion system.

There is absolutely no doubt that the current regime in Iran has been acting nefariously since its seizing of power. This did not stop, even after the removal by the international community of all its foes at its borders. It is easy to connect the dots. A simple point that should have been added to these negotiations and that goes hand in hand with a military nuclear program is the regime’s missile program. Without being an expert, just reading the capacities they are building and the objectives they are trying to achieve clearly indicates the goal of having missiles carry nuclear warheads. The various confirmed intelligence reports of collaboration with North Korea confirm this.

Iran sent a clear message last month, when the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps launched its second satellite into orbit on the Ghased satellite carrier, according to state media. Despite the US confirming that Iran’s satellite launches defy a UN Security Council resolution, this did not impact the nuclear negotiations whatsoever. It has been kept as a separate topic with no questions asked. Yet, I wonder, if this is a space program why is it being conducted by the IRGC and not the Iranian Space Agency? Also, some questions should be asked on the use of solid fuel (rather than liquid fuel), which is more adapted to military use. Moreover, the first stage of Ghased uses Iran’s medium-range ballistic missile Ghadr-110.

Tehran is greatly benefiting from the “bucketization” of negotiations. It can reap more benefits and, in the end, reach the objectives it has set out. There are a lot of elements in the Western approach that are empowering the Iranian regime and supporting its objectives. Each of its files is a bucket and the West has abided by these Iranian rules. And so, focusing only on the nuclear aspect has given it a free hand on the IRGC missile program. This means that, as it develops capacity through its so-called space program, the IRGC will soon have anti-satellite weapons capacity and intermediate-range missiles that can reach about 5,000 km. Even as Iran faces economic hardship in the aftermath of COVID-19, it has allocated in its current budget more than $200 million to the IRGC’s development of ballistic missiles, which also includes ground infrastructure.

This bucketization was a clear mistake in the 2015 process and should have been amended ahead of Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action 2.0. Indeed, can you even really solve the nuclear issue with Iran without solving the other problems? If anything, doesn’t this focus on the development of a missile arsenal with bigger capacity, accuracy and range make the negotiators question the global strategy of the regime? Or is this not important and, if not, why? What about the growing use of missiles and drones by the regime’s proxies in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon? Is this normal behavior and an indication of a positive outcome after a nuclear deal?

Even in the nuclear deal itself, there are many potential loopholes. For example, what is to stop Iran from increasing its centrifuge capacity (first generation and advanced) and keeping them all dormant in various locations for the duration of the agreement, before activating them when it is ready and has the capacity for the development of a nuclear weapon?

In all transparency, I have asked these questions to quite a few experts that are in favor of the deal. Not one was able to give a convincing answer or could explain how, after a nuclear deal is agreed, they plan to reduce the risks of the regime’s missile program or change its regional behavior. How can they expect a different outcome than the one we saw in 2016, with more terror and violence in all the region’s theaters, such as the massacres in Syria? They — even friends — usually shift the conversation and accuse me of being biased. Yet, I am also sure that they know it is a flawed approach but choose to interpret reports in a way that suits their beliefs. Actually, the facts show that this regime will continue with its terrorist, expansionist goals.

Source » arabnews