After six world powers sanctified Iran’s nuclear threshold status Tuesday, July 14 in Vienna, speculation blossomed across the world media as to whether Iran would need 10 or 15 years to go ahead and build a bomb, and at what point it would start cheating.
Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that, were it not for his tireless campaign to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran, there would have been a bomb long ago. The new accord, he charged, opened a pathway for Iran to build a whole nuclear arsenal by the time the accord expired in ten years.
But DEBKA Weekly’s sources in Tehran have discovered that Iran may never cross that threshold at all because its rulers never intended to actually construct a nuclear bomb – at least not so long as Barack Obama sits in the White House. Accused of cheating, they were telling the truth when they protested again and again that they don’t plan to build a nuclear weapon.
This was a double bluff. And it worked.
So why spoil the game by going all the way to a weapon at the risk of American or Israeli military strikes and international opprobrium? Just the existence of an elaborate nuclear program, held ready for weaponizing at any moment, was enough for a canny, hardnosed politician like Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to keep the world on tenterhooks, until he got what he wanted.
After ruling Iran with an iron fist since 1989, the supreme leader achieved his political and imperial objectives without expending a single kilo of Iran’s uranium stockpile.
The Carter intrigue for the Shah’s overthrow
Obama and Khamenei appear to have drawn guidance for their nuclear tactics from a landmark event in the history of US-Persian relations in the years 1977 to 1979, which led up to the Shah’s overthrow 35 years ago.
Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi was toppled in 1979 by a Shiite revolution led by Ayatollah Ruhallah Khomeini, after twelve years in power as emperor of Iran.
Two figures took a hidden hand in this event: The Democratic US President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski.
On January 1, 1979, Carter was the guest at a state dinner in his honor held by the Persian Shah at the Niavaran Palace in north Tehran. The President tried to cheer his host up after finding him moping over the rising tide of popular resistance against his rule, incited by Shiite clerics.
Carter raised his glass in a toast and complimented his host by saying: “Iran is an island of stability in the stormy waters of the Middle East.” He promised that the United States would not allow him to fall.
At the same time as he offered this pledge, Carter’s emissaries were with Ayatollah Khomeini at his place of exile in a village outside Paris discussing plans for his return home.
A month later, on Feb. 1, the Shah was overthrown and he and his family went into permanent exile. The ayatollah returned from exile and seized power in Tehran.
Obama-Khamenei use nuclear scare tactics to elevate Iran
The high-powered American pulling the strings behind the Iranian ruler’s overthrow was in fact Brzezinski. He had expounded a long-view doctrine which marked out a future Shiite Iranian democracy as the vehicle for carrying America to dominant influence in the Middle East (against its rival at the time, the Soviet Union).
Soon after the Shiite revolution, the most prestigious Western media ran articles strongly advocating close cooperation between Christendom and the rising Muslim power and hailing “The Marching Soldiers of Allah.”
When in 2009, thirty years later, Barack Obama entered the White House, Khamenei observed Brzezinski back at work, a grey eminence in his team of advisers, and still preaching the same doctrine for White House policies on the Middle East and Muslim world.
Another influential figure by Obama’s side was Brzezinksi’s close associate, Brent Scowcroft, National Security Adviser to Presidents Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush.
The US president and the Iranian ayatollah spent six years working on the process that led up to the historic détente between the United States and Iran and the eventual nuclear deal. It was structured to elevate the Shiite republic to hegemonic status in the Middle East and Muslim world.
Khamenei was to keep on pushing Iran’s nuclear program forward up to a dangerous edge. International alarm was to provide the impetus for Iran’s leap to the top spot as chief American strategic ally instead of Saudi Arabia and Israel.
Iran now taxed with shouldering the fight against ISIS
The nuclear scare tactic gave Obama the leverage for whipping together five fellow world powers to put the seal on Iran’s elevated international standing without dismantling its nuclear program.
Both leaders, the American and Iranian, grasp that, so long as their alliance endures, Iran will never have to build a nuclear weapon, but can stand immobile on the threshold while reaping the benefits of its restoration to the world community of nations. The US president may claim the deal as the centerpiece of his presidency. For the supreme leader, this too was the crowning achievement of his 26-year rule.
The “marching soldiers of Allah’ are now taxed by Obama and other world leaders with their next mission: to shoulder the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant – ISIS.
On his return from Moscow on Tuesday, July 14, from the signing celebration in Vienna, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented: “A broad front can now fight ISIS.”
The next day, Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, still high on the successful conclusion of the negotiating marathon, spoke about Iran and the P5+1 addressing “common challenges” including the ISIS threat in the region.
He said that “the joint fight against the ISIL terrorist group can be part of a possible broader cooperation, which may include fields of trade and finance between the two sides.” (US and Iran)
In fact, the Al Qods Brigades, Hizballah, and the pro-Iranian Iraq, Afghan and Pakistani militias are already fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria – not too successfully. They’ll have to do a lot better if they hope to turn the tide against the Sunni jihadis.
The comments heard from Lavrov and Zarif point to wider Iranian intervention in store. But whether Tehran can meet the US administration’s expectations to contain if not defeat ISIS remains to be seen.