Shortly after talks concluded Saturday in Turkey between the so-called “P5+1” nations and Iran, an online statement from the Iranian Revolutionary Guards’ “Prophet Mohammad Division” claimed the West has surrendered to Iran’s will and accepted the Islamic republic’s right to nuclear enrichment.
The P5+1 countries are the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany.
They agreed for the first time that Iran has the right to enrich uranium to the 3.5 percent level, which is used for peaceful purposes. That material, however, can be further enriched to become weapons-grade. Enriching uranium to 20 percent purity is a critical step to nuclear weaponization.
Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, told reporters afterward that Iran rejected a suspension of its 20-percent uranium enrichment program. “Suspending Iran’s nuclear activities in return for the removal of sanctions … belongs to the past.”
Brigadier Yadollah Javani, the head of the Guards’ political bureau, wrote on the Guards’ official website that Iran sees no reason to rethink its position on its nuclear program, and sees its nuclear enrichment as its red line.
“Iran now, because of its progress in its nuclear program, holds a much stronger position in the negotiations with the West,” Javani wrote, “and it seems that the West has now realized that all of its pressure on Iran has proven fruitless, and now it has adopted a correct strategy of accepting a nuclear Iran.”
A more detailed analysis by Mehdi Mohammadi, an Iranian international affairs and nuclear program expert, appeared in the Keyhan newspaper, which is directly under the supervision of Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
“For the first time in the history of the negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program with the West (which began in 2003), the West adopted a position it deemed a red line till now,” Mohammadi said. “It seems that the West is now talking openly about Iran’s right to enrichment.”
“Until now the Americans were adamant about a full halt to the Iranian nuclear enrichment activity, which they would describe its purpose as for a nuclear bomb, but now the Western officials and even the radical American organization ISIS [the Institute for Science and International Security], which in truth is the research arm of the CIA, clearly states that Iran has a right to enrichment of uranium to the 3.5 percent level.”
Mohammadi said Iran’s inflexible position has caused dissension among the P5+1.
“If one evaluates the statements by the members of the 5+1, one can notice how truly divided they are,” Mohammadi said. “Their worst nightmare is the need to provide a common front on the Iranian nuclear issue. Not only are there major differences in the intelligence analysis between America and Israel, but also between America, Russia and China. That is why the world powers have agreed to a second round of negotiations as they need time to solve their own differences on the issue.”
The countries are to meet again in Baghdad on May 23.
Despite four sets of U.N. sanctions, Iran holds enough low-enriched uranium for six nuclear bombs — 5,450 kilograms of low-enriched uranium and about 100 kilograms of uranium enriched to the 20-percent level — and continues to expand and enrich uranium at its Natanz and Fordow nuclear facilities.
An Iranian cleric, Mohammad Sadegh Yousefi Moghadam, recently stated that nuclear science will only strengthen the Islamic Republic of Iran in the face of the enemies — and is mandated by the Quran.
The Quran chapter “Al-Anfal” urges the faithful to “prepare against them whatever you are able of power, and of steeds of war, by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know (but) whom Allah knows.”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and the author of the award winning book, ”A Time to Betray.” He teaches at the U.S. Department of Defense’s Joint Counterintelligence Training Academy (JCITA) and is a member of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.