There have always been two imperatives for Iranian leader Ali Khamenei: the increasingly urgent need for money (the banks are broke, the importers can’t pay for staples like food and medicines, the new year’s bonus may not be paid), and the refusal to end the nuclear weapons program. Thus, his repeated insistence that any deal must stipulate that all sanctions be ended at once. This includes access to SWIFT and to blocked Iranian accounts in the West.
Iranian foreign minister Mohammad Zarif’s quick tantrum about the “timing” of the lifting of sanctions shows how sensitive he is to this requirement.
To repeat what I’ve said before, Khamenei is personally paying many of the costs of the Iranian jihad in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq (SILY might be a good acronym), which intensifies the urgency.
I think the Iranians think they’ve beaten the system on inspections, in part because there is never any cost to them for stiffing the IAEA (which would evidently be the chief justice for any future agreement), and in part because they’ve probably globalized the program (notably w/North Korea). So they can pretend to agree to all manner of limitations.
Finally, the whole melodrama will have confirmed the Rouhani-Zarif theory, which is the real reason Iran agreed to the negotiations, that the U.S. is totally in the folds of the Iranians’ robes. That defector who said that Kerry was working for Iran vs. the French knew what he was saying. Pity more hasn’t been made of him, but then, the western governments didn’t want to annoy the Leader.
Categories: Chatham House Rules