Shortly before US Secretary of State John Kerry was due in Qatar Monday, Aug. 3, Iran’s highest authorities led by supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei Sunday launched a public campaign to support Tehran’s noncompliance with the Vienna nuclear accord and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 of July 20, on its ballistic missile program. The campaign was designed by a team from Khamenei’s office, high-ranking ayatollahs and the top echelons of the Revolutionary Guards, including its chief, Gen. Ali Jafari.
It was kicked off with a batch of petitions fired off by the students of nine Tehran universities and Qom religious seminaries to Iran’s chief of staff Maj Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, demanding immediate tests of long-range ballistic missiles to prove that the missile ban was invalid.
It was essential, said one student letter, “…to underline the necessity for protecting the country’s defense capabilities and ensuring continued development of Iran’s ballistic missile capability.”
The students, whose influence on public opinion is substantial, went on to argue: “Firing the ballistic missiles in military drills would discourage the US Congress, the Israeli Knesset and their regional Takfiri mercenaries (a reference to the Islamic State) from future strikes against the Islamic Republic.”
The Security Council Resolution, which unanimously endorsed the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (Vienna nuclear accord) signed by Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif, called on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic technology until the date eight years after the JCPOA Adoption Day.”
Tehran retorted that none of its ballistic missiles were designed to deliver nuclear weapons, and so this provision was void. Shortly after its passage, the foreign ministry in Tehran issued an assurance that “…the country’s ballistic missile program and capability is untouched and unrestricted by Resolution 2231.”
On July 30, Ali Akbar Velayati, Khamenei’s senior adviser on international affairs and member of the Expediency Council, told reporters, “The recent UNSC Resolution on Iran’s defensive capabilities, specially (sic) its missiles, is unacceptable to Iran.”
debkafile’s Iranian sources report that Tehran deliberately engineered this campaign’s timing for it to surface the day before the arrival of John Kerry, the live wire behind the Vienna Accord, in Doha, Qatar, Monday. He has defined his mission as an effort to ease the concerns of the Gulf and other Arab nations about the negative affect of the accord on their security.
Before taking off from Cairo Sunday, Kerry issued this emphatic statement: “There can be absolutely no question that if the [Iran deal] is fully implemented, it will make Egypt and all the countries of this region safer.”
This proposition may be harder than ever to sell to Iran’s neighbors once its ballistic missiles are launched over their heads.