x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Iranian threat to withdraw from Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty

In advance of talks later this week between Iran and six major powers in Geneva later this week, an Iranian member of parliament suggested that failure in the talks and continued pressure from the US could result in Iran's withdrawal from the international treaty that limits its nuclear programme. Both Russia and China have expressed their reluctance to support tougher sanctions.

In advance of talks later this week between Iran and six major powers in Geneva later this week, an Iranian member of parliament suggested that failure in the talks and continued pressure from the US could result in Iran's withdrawal from the international treaty that limits its nuclear programme. "If the Zionists and America continue their pressure on Iran and if the talks with (six powers) do not reach a conclusion, then parliament will take a clear and transparent position, such as Iran's withdrawal from the NPT," the parliamentarian, Mohammad Karamirad, was quoted by the IRNA news agency as saying. Reuters noted: "Parliament can formally oblige the government to take such a step, as happened when Iran stopped permitting wide-ranging snap UN nuclear inspections in 2006, but Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has final say on matters of state." Agence France-Presse reported: "Iran's latest missile tests should not be used as grounds for tougher sanctions against Tehran, a top Russian negotiator said ahead of key nuclear talks this week. " 'The question is not about using this fact as grounds for the further sharpening of sanctions,' Russian deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency on Tuesday. "Striking a more conciliatory note, he added: 'Of course, these tests, in the context of intense political discussions on the Iranian nuclear programme, add arguments to those who propose additional sanctions.' " In Time magazine, Vivienne Walt looked into the question of whether sanctions could really be expected to be effective. "The option preferred by many in the US congress - a ban on exports to Iran of refined fuel products including petrol - looks like a non-starter. Iran is seen as vulnerable on this front since it imports 40 per cent of its gasoline. But it has the world's second largest proven crude oil reserves and China is the world's second largest crude oil importer. For American hawks this is a marriage made in hell. But no divorce is in prospect. "Iran provided 10 per cent of China's crude oil needs last year; its market share is expected to grow. Chinese companies and middlemen are supplying one third of Iran's refined petroleum requirements as western companies back off. Earlier this year the China National Petroleum Corporation signed a $1.7bn investment deal with the National Iranian Oil Company. The overall Chinese energy stake in Iran is said to be worth $100bn. "Speaking before crucial nuclear talks in Geneva, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu urged the US, Britain and other UN security council members to eschew confrontation. 'We believe that all sides should take more steps to ease tensions and resolve problems, not the opposite,' she said. Beijing's meaning was plain. Even if it supported sanctions in principle (which it does not), it was not disposed to support measures that would harm its national economic self-interest." China's Xinhua news agency reported: "Head of Iran's Joint Chief of Staff Seyyed Hassan Firouzabadi said Israel's attack against Iran is merely a deception, the official IRNA news agency reported on Tuesday. " 'Talks about Israel's potential attack against Iran are merely a deception, since Israel is no more than a paper tiger,' Firouzabadi was quoted as saying. " 'Today the Islamic Republic's army and the Islamic Republic Guard Corps (IRGC) are capable of manufacturing any weapon they intend to produce' to confront any threat, said Firouzabadi on the sidelines of a ceremony Monday to stress the unity between the Iran's army and IRGC." Iran experts Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett wrote: "Absent some agreement with Washington on its long-term goals, Iran's national security strategy will continue emphasising 'asymmetric' defense against perceived American encirclement. Over several years, officials in both the reformist government of Mohammad Khatami and the conservative Ahmadinejad administration have told us that this defensive strategy includes cultivating ties to political forces and militias in other states in the region, developing Iran's missile capacity (as underscored by this weekend's tests of medium-range missiles), and pushing the limits of Tehran's nonproliferation obligations to the point where it would be seen as having the ability and ingredients to make fission weapons. It seems hardly a coincidence that Iran is accused of having started the Qom lab in 2005 - precisely when Tehran had concluded that suspending enrichment had failed to diminish American hostility. "American officials tend to play down Iranian concerns about American intentions, citing public messages from President Obama to Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, as proof of the administration's diplomatic seriousness. But Tehran saw these messages as attempts to circumvent Iran's president - another iteration, in a pattern dating from Ronald Reagan's Iran-Contra scandal, of American administrations trying to create channels to Iranian 'moderates' rather than dealing with the Islamic Republic as a system. President Ahmadinejad underscored this point to us by noting that Mr Obama never responded to his congratulatory letter after the 2008 United States election - which, he emphasised, was 'unprecedented' and 'not easy to get done' in Iran. "The Obama administration's lack of diplomatic seriousness goes beyond clumsy tactics; it reflects an inadequate understanding of the strategic necessity of constructive American-Iranian relations. If an American president believed that such a relationship was profoundly in our national interests - as President Richard Nixon judged a diplomatic opening to China - he would demonstrate acceptance of the Islamic Republic, even as problematic Iranian behaviour continued in the near term." Meanwhile, The New York Times reported: "On Sunday, in a deal that underlined its expanding economic and political power, the Revolutionary Guards purchased just over 50 per cent of Iran's Telecommunication Company in a $7.8 billion deal. "The Revolutionary Guards, in addition to being part of Iran's military complex, has in recent years become one of the largest conglomerates in the country. It has been awarded more than 750 construction, oil and gas contracts and has its own ports. "Its political influence has also increased, with many of its members elected to parliament in 2003 or appointed as cabinet ministers in 2004. "Now, the Revolutionary Guards' hold on the country's telecommunications systems will give it further control over land-line, internet and cellphone services. On election day, the country's text messaging service was cut off; the cellphone network was disconnected during the unrest that followed. Opposition leaders accused the government of misusing state-run services."

pwoodward@thenational.ae