January 15, 2014 -- New York – AJC continues to be deeply concerned about Iran's motives in negotiations with the U.S. and five other world powers over its nuclear program.
Ahead of Monday's start date for the six-month interim agreement between Iran and the P5+1, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani declared in a tweet that "the world powers surrendered to the Iranian nation's will."
“President Rouhani’s gloating is telling," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Is Iran truly committed to negotiating a permanent agreement to end its quest for nuclear-weapons capability, or has President Rouhani revealed an unaltered Iranian strategy of deceit, with which he has also been associated earlier in his career?"
For more than a decade, Iran has ignored IAEA and UN Security Council actions, as well as U.S. and EU sanctions, aimed at stopping its nuclear-weapons program. The interim agreement announced in November was hailed as a diplomatic breakthrough. It was seen by its backers as a first step in resolving the Iranian nuclear crisis, setting the stage for further negotiations on a permanent accord to be concluded by mid-2014.
"The fact that European and other companies, some encouraged by their own governments, are already visiting Iran, and others are lining up, even before Iran has taken concrete steps, could very well weaken the carefully constructed sanctions regime," said Harris. “That alone may give Rouhani undue comfort, and perhaps reason to savor success.”
In a separate but related development, and again underscoring the profound questions about Iran, Foreign Minister Zarif honored the memory of Imad Mughniyeh, one of Hezbollah's top terrorists. Mughniyeh was a terrorist par excellence, who was responsible, among other attacks, for the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut. Zarif laid a wreath at Mugniyeh's grave in Lebanon. Mugniyeh died in 2008.
"To honor the Hezbollah leader responsible for, among many other terrorist attacks, the murder of 241 U.S. Marines is to spit in the eye of the U.S.," said Harris. “And this is by the very same person, Zarif, who is overseeing Iran’s team in the talks with the P5+1.”
Hezbollah, created more than 30 years ago, has long served as Iran’s terror proxy around the world. Both Iran and Hezbollah are on the ground in Syria working hand-in-hand with the Assad regime, in its nearly three-year-long war against rebel forces, which has resulted in an estimated 120,000 deaths and millions of refugees and internally displaced persons.”