News - Iran Matters

Belfer Iran Brief – Dispute continues over inspection and interviews, Israeli military assesses that Iran may be “threat in decline,” and other news

June 10, 2015

Highlights

  • Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, challenged Iranian officials’ claims that inspections of military sites or interviews with scientists would not be permitted, saying that Iran has already agreed to permit “access to sites, documents (and) people.”
  • Reuters cited an Israeli military source, who “reflects thinking at the highest levels of the armed forces,” arguing that nuclear deal with Iran will “allow for the supposition that, in the coming period of years, this is a threat in decline.”
  • After a hardline lawmaker was videotaped accusing Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif of “treason,” Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated his confidence that negotiators are working to “obtain what is in the interests of the country and the regime. 

Diplomacy and nuclear issue                           

  • Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, challenged Iranian officials’ claims that inspections of military sites or interviews with scientists would not be permitted, saying that Iran has already agreed to permit “access to sites, documents (and) people.” (AP, 6/8Wall Street Journal, 6/8)
    • Maj. Gen. Hassan Firouzabadi, Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces: “(Enemies) aren’t afraid of expressing their excessive and illogical expectations, including inspection of sensitive and military centers, speaking to our nuclear scientists and researchers and other issues that will be impossible to take place.” (Fars News, 5/25)
    • Brig. Gen. Massoud Jazayeri, Deputy Chief of Staff: “Any kind of inspection of Iran's military sites, including managed and restricted access, is unacceptable… We will not allow any visits to military sites, whether they be limited, controlled, unfree or in any other form.” (Reuters, 6/5)
    • Ali Akbar Velayati, adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: “Iran will never let any foreigner have access to its military sites… We won't permit any stranger, either American or non-American, to visit the Islamic Republic's military and sensitive centers.” (IRNA, 6/9Reuters, 6/8)
    • Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi: “Controlled and managed access (to the military sites) does not mean inspection… We are trying to set some rules for managed access to non-nuclear sites.” (Reuters, 6/5)
      • Araqchi said in a closed Majles session that Iran had accepted IAEA “managed access” to military sites, according to lawmakers who leaked his comments. Araqchi subsequently denied that Iran had accepted “inspections of military sites” but said he provided the Majles with “procedures” on “managed access” to military sites.
      • Javad Karimi-Ghoddousi, hardline MP and member of Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee: “Mr. Araghchi said that inspections of military sites have been accepted but the inspections are regulated and will be seriously managed.” (Mehr, 5/25)
      • Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif: Interviewing nuclear scientists is “marginal” topic which “has nothing to do” with nuclear negotiations. (Press TV, 5/25)
  • After a hardline lawmaker was videotaped accusing Zarif of “treason,” Khamenei reiterated his confidence that negotiators are working to “obtain what is in the interests of the country and the regime.” (AFP, 5/27Telegraph, 5/27Khamenei.ir, 5/27)
  • Western diplomats said they agreed on “snapback” provision that would preclude Russian and Chinese veto, but Iran has not agreed to mechanism. (Reuters, 5/31)
  • Iran “shared some information” with IAEA about Possible Military Dimensions. No detail was announced. (IAEA, 5/29Reuters, 5/29)
  • Araqchi: “Our basis is mistrust and this is the reality… We don't trust the other side at all and they don't trust us either.” (AFP, 6/6)
      • Final agreement would be about 20 pages with five appendices totaling 40-50 pages.

Sanctions and Iran’s economy

  • At Atlantic Council event with European ambassadors, UK Ambassador Peter Westmacott said that sanctions have probably reached “the high water mark,” and “you would probably see more sanctions erosion” if sanctions continue, unless Iran commits clear violation. (Bloomberg, 5/26Al-Monitor, 5/26Atlantic Council, 5/26)
    • French Ambassador Gerard Araud: “Something that really bothers me is this view in Washington that European business is more eager to go back in than U.S. business…European businessmen are not more greedy than American ones…We — not you — made the sacrifice of the sanctions. We lost a lot of money…We have done a very tough job, we have done it in a very loyal way.”
  • Deputy Oil Minister Amirhossein Zamani-Nia said that if negotiators reach deal by June 30, sanctions will be lifted by late November/December. (AFP, 5/25Fars News, 5/25)
    • Regarding increased oil exports, Oil Minister Bijan Zanganeh said: “We believe that immediately, or after one month of lifting the sanctions, (we will achieve) half a million (extra) barrels per day, and after 6-7 months we will achieve one million barrels.” (AFP, 6/3)

Iran nuclear agreement IAEA Amano

IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano speaks to the media during a press conference on June 8th, 2015. (AP Images)

Iranian domestic politics         

  • Tehran is cancelling gasoline subsidies, part of subsidy reduction plan originally prepared in 2010. (AFP, 5/25)
  • The government has permitted two new reformist parties to organize – Nedaye Iranian (Voice of Iranians) and Ettehad Mellat Iran (Iranian National Unity) – but reformers are skeptical whether the parties will be allowed to survive as elections draw closer. (Financial Times, 5/25)                                                

US-Iran relations

  • President Barack Obama in interview with Israeli Channel 2: “A military solution will not fix it. Even if the United States participates, it would temporarily slow down an Iranian nuclear program but it will not eliminate it…Sanctions won’t do it, a military solution is temporary, the deal we are negotiating will take a nuclear bomb off the table for the next 20 years.” (Times of Israel, 6/2Yedioth Ahronoth, 6/2Ha’aretz, 6/1)

Geopolitics and Iran

  • In rare public speech, Quds Force Commander Qassem Suleimani accused the US of being complicit in ISIL’s rise and said fighting ISIL is in “our nation’s interest.” (Financial Times, 5/25Press TV, 5/25Mehr, 5/25)
    • Suleimani: “ISIL is a plague and a major catastrophe…We have to quarantine our borders to safeguard the health of our nation and help our neighbor so that this cancer does not spread into our country.”
      • “How is it possible for the US troops to be present in Ramadi under the pretext of supporting Iraqi nation and yet do nothing to stop the killings there? Can this fact mean anything other than their involvement in the conspiracy?”
  • Abdolreza Rahmani Fazli, Iran’s interior minister, reiterated that Iran will enforce a 40 km (25 mile) buffer zone along its border with Iraq: “We have previously announced that if Daesh advances to around 40 kilometers of our borders and intends to commit an act of sabotage, Iran will definitely intervene.” (Financial Times, 5/25Press TV, 5/25
    • Note: Iran used enforcement of this exclusion zone as justification for cross-border attacks by its air force in December 2014.
  • Iranian military leaders called for new defense spending to counter ISIL threat.
    • Brig. Gen. Ahmad-Reza Pourdastan, commander of ground forces: “The Army and the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Ground Forces should be strengthened so that we can buy tanks, develop our systems and overhaul our helicopters, because today the battle is between the ground troops.” (Fars News, 5/24Press TV, 5/25) (Financial Times, 5/25)
    • Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan: “Like the past we do not have hard threats but rather are faced with soft threats.” (IRNA, 5/26)
  • President Hassan Rouhani: “Iranian nation and government will remain at the side of the Syrian nation and government until the end of the road.” (Reuters, 6/2)

Israel

  • Reuters cited an Israeli military source, who “reflects thinking at the highest levels of the armed forces,” arguing that nuclear deal with Iran will “allow for the supposition that, in the coming period of years, this is a threat in decline.” (Reuters, 6/4)
    • Note: Amos Yadlin, director of the Institute for National Security Studies, argued in April that a nuclear deal with Iran would not diminish Israeli military options if Iran eventually decides to develop a weapon: “Military action against the Iranian nuclear program in 2025 would in all probability not be much more complicated or difficult than in 2015. Before the Iranian nuclear infrastructure is expanded over the duration of the agreement, between 2025 and 2027, the Iranian program will be reduced compared to what it is today, intelligence about it will be better, and it will be less immune than it is at present.” (INSS Insight, 4/27)
  • In a visit to Israel, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey said he agrees with Israel’s assessment that Iran will funnel some sanctions relief into its military and proxies. (AP, 6/9)
    • Dempsey: “I share their concern…If the deal is reached and results in sanctions relief, which results in more economic power and more purchasing power for the Iranian regime, it's my expectation that it's not all going to flow into the economy to improve the lot of the average Iranian citizen. I think they will invest in their surrogates; I think they will invest in additional military capability.
  • Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, visiting Washington, called on US negotiators to “extend talks a third or a fourth time,” which he said was “still better than signing a half-baked agreement.” (Wall Street Journal, 6/5)
    • In a separate interview, he said that “Iranians are using delay tactics. It seems they want to come close to the deadline without an agreement… there will be no time to close all the loopholes and clarify all the details. And this will serve the Iranians.” (Politico, 6/5)
  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: “I am often portrayed as the nuclear party pooper…But I speak with quite a few of our neighbors, more than you think, and I want to tell you that nobody in this region believes this deal will block Iran's path to the bomb.” (AP, 6/9)

“Red lines,” “points of no return,” and military strikes

  • No significant developments.

Uncertain or dubious claims

  • No significant claims.
For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation:Belfer Iran Brief – Dispute continues over inspection and interviews, Israeli military assesses that Iran may be “threat in decline,” and other news.” News, Iran Matters, June 10, 2015.