Another UN nuclear watchdog inspection team was given the brush-off by Iran Thursday, Feb. 14.
After less than 24 hours in Tehran, the team leader, senior inspector Herman Nackaerts, admitted to reporters on his return to Vienna: “We had discussions on the structured approach but could not finalize the document" on enhanced inspections of Tehran’s nuclear program.
He tried to lighten the disappointment by commenting: "Our commitment to continued dialogue is unwavering. We will work hard now to resolve the remaining differences but time is needed to reflect on the way forward.” But then he admitted, "We haven't agreed yet on a date for the next meeting.”
Nothing more that a waste of time is awaited from the nuclear negotiations starting Feb. 25 in Kazakhstan between Iran and the P+1 group (US, Russia, China, Britain France and Germany). Tehran has already decided the Iranian delegation will shun substantive discussions on any aspect of their disputed nuclear program from the word go.
What the Iranians find hard to understand, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's sources in Tehran report, is the failure of the West, especially Washington, to heed Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s crystal-clear dismissal of any negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program – direct or indirect, with the US or the world powers or the IAEA – until the West lifts its oil embargo and sanctions on Iranian banks.
On Wednesday, Feb. 6, the US Treasury Department imposed new sanctions which prevent Tehran from laying hands on its revenues from crude exports, except in the form of goods bartered by the receiving countries.
This effectively locks Iran’s oil income overseas.
Most Iranians are hurt by sanctions, yet back nuclear program
Khamenei’s refusal to engage in bilateral talks with Washington came the day after the new sanctions were clamped down.
"Negotiating with America will not solve any problems," Khamenei told air force commanders who had gathered on Thursday as part of anniversary celebrations of the 1979 Islamic revolution.
In answer to US Vice President Joe Biden’s offer of direct talks, the Iranian leader said: “If some people want American rule to be established again in Iran and are turning a blind eye to the country's national interests and independence in order to please Americans, then the nation will confront them," he said. "You are holding a gun against Iran and saying you want to talk. The Iranian nation will not be frightened by the threats."
The supreme leader was telling the US that Iran will not be broken or retreat from its nuclear program under the pressure of sanctions. And he enjoys majority popular backing for his intransigence.
According to a Gallup survey on the impact of sanctions on Iranians conducted on December 2012 and just released:
• A majority of Iranians 56% said sanctions have seriously affected their livelihoods and 29% said they were somewhat hurt.
• A majority of 63% were in favor of Iran continuing to develop its nuclear program, even in the face of sanctions.
• Almost half – 47% – held the United States responsible for the sanctions against Iran. One in 10 Iranians said their own government carries the largest share of the blame.
New methods for blinkering the international nuclear watchdog
This survey showed that, while the Obama administration is emptying the Iranian national treasury rial by rial, sanctions were strengthening Iranian popular support for its government and enabling the continued development of a nuclear capability.
A new strategy for blinkering the international nuclear watchdog (IAEA) came to light this week:
At a closed meeting of Iranian leaders, Wednesday, Feb. 13, Fereydoun Abbasi Davani, Director of the Iranian Atomic Energy Agency warned that the international watchdog’s system is not secure.
"It is necessary to speak more wisely during negotiations and avoid contentious topics in order to reach mutual confidence and clarify misunderstandings,” he said. "Agency executives have to notice that, unfortunately, their system does not possess sufficient security, and that the Islamic Republic has emphasized this point many times. It is necessary [for them] to pay more attention in how they interact with Iran.”
Davani went on to claim, “All the activities of Iran's Atomic Energy Agency are conducted according to [IAEA] provisions and under surveillance of Agency cameras.”
"Be certain that any form of media reporting regarding [Iranian] agency activities takes place after accurate notification of the Agency, and in reality, the media do not discover anything. The interesting point is that our country's classified reporting session takes place a short time after the presence of inspectors and their notifications.
"We use nuclear energy that has thousands of peaceful benefits in producing energy, curing difficult diseases, expanding national agriculture and industry, and [as per] international agreements, we report all of these activities to [the IAEA] in a timely legal manner.”
Sanction-hit Iran is forking out $1bn per month to Bashar Assad
DEBKA-Net-Weekly's military and intelligence sources say that the Obama administration needs to ask itself a key question: If sanctions are so successful and Iran is so hard up, how has Tehran made itself the main armorer and financial backer of the Bashar Assad regime in Syria?
Our sources estimate that Iran is forking out around $1 billion per month in aid to Syria and an additional $300 million monthly allowance to its Lebanese proxy, Hizballah.
North Korea, like Iran, carries on with its nuclear development regardless of sanctions – and its economic plight is worse than Iran’s. The only conclusion to be drawn in both cases is that sanctions and even extreme penury are not the answer to stopping the rise of rogue nuclear powers, because they aren’t working.