In a speech at the Heritage Foundation on May 21, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo outlined a list of 12 conditions Iran must meet to reach a new nuclear agreement with the United States.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, one of the lead architects of the nuclear deal Tehran struck with former President Barack Obama, responded this week by lashing out at Pompeo, dismissing his demands as “insulting,” and accusing President Donald Trump of “erratic behavior.”
Pompeo presented his list of conditions in May as follows:
First, Iran must declare to the IAEA a full account of the prior military dimensions of its nuclear program, and permanently and verifiably abandon such work in perpetuity.
Second, Iran must stop enrichment and never pursue plutonium reprocessing. This includes closing its heavy water reactor. Third, Iran must also provide the IAEA with unqualified access to all sites throughout the entire country. Iran must end its proliferation of ballistic missiles and halt further launching or development of nuclear-capable missile systems.
Iran must release all U.S. citizens, as well as citizens of our partners and allies, each of them detained on spurious charges.
Iran must end support to Middle East terrorist groups, including Lebanese Hizballah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Iran must respect the sovereignty of the Iraqi Government and permit the disarming, demobilization, and reintegration of Shia militias.
Iran must also end its military support for the Houthi militia and work towards a peaceful political settlement in Yemen.
Iran must withdraw all forces under Iranian command throughout the entirety of Syria.
Iran, too, must end support for the Taliban and other terrorists in Afghanistan and the region, and cease harboring senior al-Qaida leaders. Iran, too, must end the IRGC Qods Force’s support for terrorists and militant partners around the world.
And too, Iran must end its threatening behavior against its neighbors – many of whom are U.S. allies. This certainly includes its threats to destroy Israel, and its firing of missiles into Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It also includes threats to international shipping and destructive – and destructive cyberattacks.
“That list is pretty long,” Pompeo conceded. “But if you take a look at it, these are 12 very basic requirements. The length of the list is simply a scope of the malign behavior of Iran. We didn’t create the list, they did.”
It is noteworthy that less than half of Pompeo’s 12 conditions pertain directly to Iran’s nuclear program. The others concern other forms of what he called Iran’s “malign behavior.”
Foreign Minister Zarif certainly took note of that in his furious response, which dismissed Pompeo’s speech out of hand. Zarif called Pompeo’s speech a “baseless and insulting statement” that “issued a number of demands and threats against Iran in brazen contravention of international law, well-established international norms, and civilized behavior.”
“It comes as no surprise that the statement and the one made by the US president on Iran were either ignored or received negatively by the international community, including by friends and allies of the United States. Only a small handful of US client states in our region welcomed it,” Zarif sneered.
Zarif claimed Pompeo lacked an understanding of Iran’s “history culture and the Iranian people’s struggle for independence and freedom,” a struggle the Iranian people are actually conducting against Zarif and his thuggish government, which typically responds by shooting them and throwing them in jail.
The women of Iran just managed to win the right to watch a World Cup soccer match for the first time in 40 years with massive street protests. For a refreshing change, Zarif’s regime did not beat them to a pulp, murder them, or lock them in dungeons, but it did try to cancel the mixed-gender soccer viewing parties at the last minute due to nebulous “infrastructure” issues.
At any rate, Zarif rejected most of Pompeo’s conditions on the grounds that Iran will not allow foreign powers to meddle in its internal politics, the way Iran constantly meddles in the politics of other nations.
The Iranian foreign minister found the Trump administration an unwelcome change from the very pliable Obama administration, accusing President Donald Trump and his team of hurling “baseless and provocative allegations” and making “impulsive and illogical decisions,” most of which seem to involve favorable treatment for countries that practice a different brand of Islam from Iran’s theocracy, and of course supporting the “Zionist regime” and its “cruel atrocities” against Gazans.
Zarif constantly referred to the “international community” as backing his wicked theocracy, which really ought to give the Europeans serious pause about getting in bed with Tehran and becoming a party to its atrocities, no matter how much money European countries stand to make from Iranian contracts. Indeed, even as Zarif was punching out his little screed, German Chancellor Angela Merkel was entertaining a few public doubts about Iran’s “aggressive tendencies” and how Europe has been legitimizing them.
Zarif even complained about the state of President Trump’s denuclearization diplomacy with North Korea:
His remarks immediately following his meeting with the leader of the DPRK regarding his possible change of mind in 6 months are indicative of what the world is facing—an irrational and dangerous US administration. Does the US Secretary of State really expect Iran to negotiate with a government whose president says: “I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong. I don’t know if I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse?” Can such a government really set preconditions for Iran? Isn’t it actually confusing the plaintiff for the defendant?
That is exactly what Democrats in the United States have said about the contrast between Iranian and North Korean denuclearization, so Zarif’s subscriptions to the big U.S. newspapers are clearly paid up.
It is also the exact reverse of the way to look at the two situations: it was urgently necessary to crack down on Iran and withdraw from the JCPOA to send Kim Jong-un a message that he is not dealing with Barack Obama, and will not be getting a sweetheart deal with farcical inspections, secret side arrangements, and midnight pallets of cash delivered to Pyongyang. Trump’s often-stated willingness to walk away from talks with North Korea’s Kim Jong-un is the exact opposite of Obama’s disastrous “a bad deal is better than no deal” desperation to sign something with Iran – a desperation Zarif and his team shrewdly took advantage of every step of the way.
The Iranian Foreign Minister’s long and hilarious list of counter-demands includes the United States unilaterally dismantling its nuclear arsenal and forcing Israel to disarm as well, stop selling weapons to nations Iran would like to attack someday, stop supporting Israel, and admit that America secretly supported the Islamic State. That last is a heck of an insult to Barack Obama, the man who did so much for Mohammed Javad Zarif and his regime. Obama secretly encourages banks to break U.S. law to make Tehran rich, and Zarif ends up accusing him of creating ISIS.
The problem for Zarif is that if European leaders keep seeing rants like his, including jaw-dropping claims that Iran is “engaged in serious diplomatic efforts to end regional conflicts in Syria and Yemen,” they are going to feel increasingly queasy about the moral black hole Obama sucked them into with the JCPOA.
Putting Iran on a ten-year path to nuclear weapons was bad enough, but long before Iran’s first nuclear bomb detonation – which you can bet will happen much sooner than anyone in the Obama administration predicted – Tehran is using the money and prestige granted by Obama’s deal to exert its malevolent influence across the Middle East and bring the region closer to war. Iran richly deserved to be under the sanctions Obama lifted and should have remained under them until the Iranian people were free of the tyrants Zarif represents.