- - Wednesday, June 4, 2014


If there were any doubt that Iran is trying to develop nuclear weapons, that thought was completely dispelled recently by two reports on the Islamic republic’s ambitions.

First, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the regime’s supreme leader, told parliamentarians that anyone who would try to negotiate away Iran’s right to become a nuclear power is a traitor.

That was a not-very-subtle threat to the Iranian negotiating team that has been meeting in Geneva with the P5+1 world powers to reach a final agreement over the regime’s illicit nuclear program in exchange for ending international economic sanctions. The P5+1 are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council — the U.S., United Kingdom, France, Russia and China — plus Germany.

In the last meeting between the two sides that ended a couple of weeks ago, the Iranian negotiators stunned their P5+1 counterparts by drawing new “red lines” that essentially put the negotiations back to square one, a tactic the regime has used for years to thwart the West as Iran continued its all-out effort to develop nuclear weapons. One of those new red lines is that the regime’s missiles, which would deliver the nuclear bombs, are no longer on the table for discussion.

Ayatollah Khamenei, whose orders are disobeyed only at the risk of summary execution, is the man who publicly stated a few years ago that Iran was not seeking nuclear weapons and to do so would be against the holy order. Now he is saying that the holy order requires Iran to arm itself against the “thieves and plunderers of human honor, dignity and morality” — which means the United States.

“The reason for continuation of this battle is not the warmongering of the Islamic republic,” he said. “Logic and reason command that Iran, in order to pass through a region full of pirates, needs to arm itself and must have the capability to defend itself.” That means having nuclear weapons to use against those he calls the “oppressors’ front,” headed by the United States.

The second major recent development was an exclusive report that Iran conducted several high-explosive tests on detonators designed for its nuclear-weapons program, according to a former officer of the regime’s Revolutionary Guards, who escaped the country and is now in Europe. The officer witnessed the detonator tests in the fall of 2007 at the regime’s clandestine TABA complex, northwest of Tehran, where centrifuge parts are produced.

Following the tests, according to the source, the facility was shut down for several days so traces of the tests could be cleaned up. Several times thereafter, a special team tested the area for any sign of nuclear contamination.

The tests at the TABA complex were done years after similar tests at the Parchin military site, which has been off-limits to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations entity assigned to monitor Iran’s nuclear program.

In November 2011, an IAEA report on Iran said it had evidence through member states that Iran had constructed a large explosives chamber in which it had carried out high-explosive tests consistent with the development of nuclear weapons. Iran labeled the report “American lies” and continued to deny the IAEA access to the Parchin site.

Last November, Iran and the P5+1 world powers agreed to work on a draft to limit the country’s nuclear activity in exchange for removal of sanctions. Iran also agreed with the IAEA to take seven transparency steps by May 15 to allow further inspection of suspected sites and to provide information on other concerns about its nuclear program.

The regime has yet to abide by that agreement, but in a 180-degree turn after years of denial, it provided the IAEA in late April and late May with information that the suspected high-explosives tests at Parchin did indeed take place.

In effect, Iran has admitted it has been working toward nuclear weapons, has drawn new red lines to protect its illicit program and has stated in the words of its supreme leader that it intends to destroy America.

The sanctions regime has been breached through last November’s interim agreement that eased some sanctions, and Iran now thinks that it would be difficult for President Obama to walk away from his grand plan of rapprochement, especially with Washington’s focus diverted to the Nigerian kidnappings, the Ukrainian crisis, China’s adventures in the South China Sea and the Israeli-Palestinian divide.

Tehran, taking note of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s success in annexing Crimea and destabilizing eastern Ukraine, is getting in Mr. Obama’s face and throwing down the gauntlet. The president had pleaded with Congress not to approve additional crippling sanctions against the clerical state while negotiations were ongoing. Those negotiations are proving to be a sham.

Ayatollah Khamenei has made his position clear. Now America must adopt the only stance that can make a difference: Stalling and threats must end or the tyrannical Iranian regime will be brought to its knees with ever-more-devastating sanctions.

Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and author of “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010).

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