Should the West Trust Iran?
The discussions between the West and Iran concerning the nuclear deal are boiling down to one word – “TRUST“.
For years, Tehran, and specifically, Supreme Leader Khamenei, reiterated time and again that militarizing its nuclear program is not an option…but nobody really believed it because at the same time, he was spewing anti-Western rants (he still does) and the nuclear program had literally gone underground (it still is).
And then, President Rouhani took office in a whirlwind of promises for change and moderation. Suddenly, the faces representing Tehran showed up with smiles paving the way to the nuclear deal. For a while, it seemed that Tehran could be trusted. IAEA inspectors flew in, nuclear plants were open for inspections and uranium enrichment beyond 5% diminished. Sanctions were lifted and hardliners on all sides had to sit back and simmer for a while.
3 Reasons Not To Trust Iran
Unfortunately, the smiling diplomats from Tehran headed by Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif worked hard to find loopholes in the deal and they were joined by the hardliners to state the obvious – There would be no “freezing”, “dismantling”, “reigned in”, “rolled back” etc… as the West believed. At most, Tehran was ready to press the “pause” button. And yet, the West kept on hammering at a deal in the hope of winning the day through diplomacy as a worthy alternative to a military option.
But then, there’s the issue of Iran’s support of Syria (Assad). Although Tehran continues to support Assad politically, financially and militarily as we have shown in earlier posts, the same smiling diplomats set up a wall of denials in an effort to distance themselves from the atrocities and from Hezbollah itself. In the face of all the evidence to prove otherwise, each denial represents another crack in the wall of trust Rouhani had worked hard to create. Efforts to link Iran’s involvement in Syria to the nuclear talks were immediately shot down by Tehran and so, the West plods on.
Finally, the interception by the Israelis of a ship loaded with weapons originating in Syria, travelling through Iran and headed for Gaza poked another big hole in Tehran’s veil of trustw. While the Israelis touted the “smoking gun” they were seeking, Zarif immediately set up a wall of circumstancial denials. First, he ridiculed the munitions seizure by spinning it into an attempted PR stunt by Israel coinciding with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s presence at the annual AIPAC meeting in Washington – “Amazing Coincidence! Or same failed lies.” He then stated that it would be “inconsecutive” for Assad to send missiles to Gaza when he needs them badly himself. And although he may be right about the great timing vis-à-vis the AIPAC convention and that Assad needs the weapons, the fact remains that containers of missiles and ammunition emanating from Syria and shipped through Iran are now in Israeli custody in Eilat. And the fact remains that, despite yet another reason to mistrust Iran, the West continues to bet on diplomacy.
So, Can Iran Be Trusted?
Rouhani and Zarif have proven themselves to lack trustworthiness in their denials on the nuclear program, on their involvement in Syria and on their involvement in attempted terrorism against the civilian population in Israel. If this were a baseball game, the umpire would shout out “strike three, you’re out” and Tehran would be sent off the field.
Unfortunately, it seems that after so many denials by Rouhani and company, it is the West’s turn to be in denial, preferring to ignore all the warning signs in an effort to let diplomacy save the day. And although it is admirable to do everything possible to avert a war, if Iran can’t be trusted, what’s the use in a deal?