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Khamenei’s Heroic Flexibility Masking Deceptive Intentions

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Vatan-e Emrooz : Heroic Flexibility

The successful negotiation and the release of American hostages may be seen as a positive diplomatic achievement, and it could act as a launching pad for Ayatollah Khamenei’s reported green light for further negotiations.

Iran’s nuclear negotiators have been authorized to commence direct talks with the United States, as informed by several well-informed senior sources to the UK-based Amwaj. Media. Maintaining anonymity, high-ranking Iranian officials have revealed that chief nuclear negotiator Ali Baqeri-Kani is ready for a meeting with Brett McGurk, the White House. According to the sources, if this anticipated meeting materializes, the subsequent Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa will be in Oman in the coming weeks.

According to the sources, if this anticipated meeting materializes, the subsequent step would be a meeting with Iran by the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council (Britain, France, China, Russia, and the U.S.) along with Germany.

The U.S. and Iran are both refuting the. report "No direct or indirect discussions are planned, not even those linked to Brett McGurk, the White House coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa," an anonymous U.S. source informed VOA recently, emphasizing the topic's sensitive nature. On September 27, the Iranian Foreign Ministry debunked the speculation, asserting, “Such sensationalized news and media tactics, commonly used for political ambiance, lack authenticity.”

Yet, when VOA inquired about America's willingness to engage with Iran directly, State Department representative Matthew Miller commented, "Our stanceAny has consistently been that we're receptive to diplomatic interactions with Iran. I won’t delve into potential formats of such engagements, but our conviction remains that diplomacy is the foremost avenue to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear capabilities."

Concurrently, Senator Ted Cruz, a GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is pressing for punitive measures against present administration members. This includes those connected to Robert Malley, the former special envoy to Iran under President Joe Biden, in light of revelations suggesting U.S. officials fostered relationships with scholars and policy influencers related to Iran a decade ago. An evaluation of Malley's classified information management has been ongoing since June, during which he has been on hiatus.

Cruz emphasized, "The Biden administration ought to halt its concealed negotiations with Iran and the stripping of sanctions immediately. Moreover, the clearances of any officials connected to these communications should be temporarily revoked until all claims are thoroughly examined, and appropriate actions are undertaken."

If Khamenei were to author a new agreement, the West might again applaud his "heroic flexibility." However, as the ink settles, the stark reality persists: Iran remains committed to expanding its nuclear and missile capabilities, disregarding human rights, and suppressing democratic voices, all while the West seemingly applauds.

Iran's supreme leader utilized the term "heroic flexibility" when he, as a 30-year-old cleric, translated a book discussing a peace treaty negotiated in the 7th century by Imam Hassan, the grandson of the Prophet Mohammed. Khamenei instructed the Iranian diplomats who participated in the 2015 nuclear deal negotiations to display the same "heroic flexibility," resolve, and conviction to achieve Iran's objectives. He cited the historical example of the negotiations conducted by the Imam as a precedent for successful negotiations that continue to be relevant in today's constantly evolving international landscape.

Imam Hassan Mujtaba’s strategic negotiation and acceptance of a peace treaty during a tumultuous time when the new Islamic community was deeply divided and a civil war, known as the First Fitna, was ongoing, is hailed as an act of wisdom, bravery, and pragmatic leadership. This deal, described with the term "heroic flexibility," symbolizes the strength and courage it took to prioritize peace and unity over continued conflict.

Brett McGurk played a vital role in the September 2023 deal that secured the release of American hostages from Iran in exchange for $6 billion and five Iranian prisoners. His negotiations in Oman and Qatar focused on this goal.

Brett McGurk

Amid doubts regarding Iran's sincerity, McGurk and his team in Oman communicated indirectly with Iranian officials, led by Deputy Foreign Minister and Chief nuclear negotiator Ali Bagheri Kani, through Omani mediators. The U.S. team emphasized the necessity to cease attacks on American forces in Syria and Iraq and the release of imprisoned Americans for any de-escalation and resumption of discussions about Iran’s nuclear program. Oman was crucial in reaching the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and was a backchannel for communication between Iran and the U.S.

During negotiations leading to secure the release of five American hostages, the U.S. tempered actions intended to halt Iran's oil exports, signaling a relaxation from stringent sanctions enforcement. This softer approach permitted an increment in Iran's oil exports, including significant shipments to China, its primary buyer, which surged between 1.4 million and 1.6 million barrels a day this year.

Iran's political tactics, including the kidnapping and wrongful accusation of innocents as spies and saboteurs, have again enabled it to augment its finances, reminiscent of tactics used with Western hostages in Lebanon in the 1990s.

The West's tendency towards appeasing Tehran is evident despite Iran's tricks. Western powers appear hesitant to confront Iran. This hesitance is well recognized by Tehran, who often perceive it as a sign of weakness or indecision. The recurring question is, will Khamenei apply the same strategy to entice the West again while continuing Iran's policy of hostages for cash, fostering terrorism, and enhancing its missile and drone capabilities?

Iran's leap progress in its nuclear and missile programs will continue. Even if a new nuclear agreement is reached, supervision over some aspects of Iran's missile program, such as missile experimentation and procurement, is expected to conclude soon (October 2023). Additionally, limitations on Iran's centrifuge development are due to expire in 2024, and over the medium term, other constraints on its nuclear program will gradually be lifted (2031).

Anyhow, any agreement will probably be an informal "less for less," bypassing the U.S. congressional approval requirement. This arrangement suggests that the U.S. may slightly relax its strict enforcement of sanctions, primarily by permitting Iran-controlled access to certain foreign exchange reserves presently restricted by financial sanctions.

In return, the foremost goal for the United States is to diminish Iran's uranium enrichment pace. Tehran revealed in 2021 that they ramped up their uranium enrichment to 60%, thus shortening their breakout time - the duration needed to develop a nuclear weapon. For such a weapon, uranium must be enriched to over 90%. Additionally, the U.S. aims for Iran to strengthen its cooperative ties with the International Atomic Energy Agency and directs its affiliates to avoid targeting American troops in Syria and Iraq.

Making strides in its nuclear ambitions and regional posture, Iran is poised to present demands to the U.S., particularly in light of upcoming American elections. It seems persistent, however, in refusing to alter the SUNSET clauses of the original agreement, effectively maintaining its course towards an unsupervised, independent nuclear program with minor concessions regarding its stockpiles of enriched uranium. Iran’s nuclear program is in the most advanced states since its establishment.

Leveraging its newfound power, Iran is working to strengthen its diplomatic and economic relationships with neighboring countries like Saudi Arabia and global powers like Russia and China. On July 4, Tehran was inducted as the ninth member of The Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and received formal invitations to become members of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) international group, with their participation set to commence at the start of the upcoming year.

Should Khamenei give the green light to negotiate a fresh nuclear agreement, the West may again praise his "heroic flexibility." Nevertheless, Iran is expected to persist in advancing its nuclear and missile capabilities, ignoring ongoing women's protests, human rights violations, and stifling democratic voices, all to the acclaim of the West.



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