Today, July 8th 2016, three conferences were held in Paris . The second conference entitled ‘one year after Nuclear Deal’
the Moderator was Lincoln Bloomfield, former assistant US secretary of state for political military affairs from 2001 to 2005.
Panelists, were Mitchell Reiss, former director of policy planning at the U.S. Department of State on Iraq, Iran and the Arab-Israeli conflict, Bruno Tertrais, Senior Research Fellow at the Foundation pour la Recherche Stratégique, Francis Townsend, former Homeland Security Advisor to United States President and TV personality Senator Robert Torricelli, Member of the US Senate from 1997 to 2003 and served 14 years in the U.S. House of Representatives, and Robert Joseph, US Special Envoy for Nuclear Nonproliferation and the Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and Int’l Security until 2007
Excerpts from the Conference:
Lincoln Bloomfield: We are going to discuss whether there was a spirit as well as the letter to the agreement? Did Iran come to the table only because of economic duress? Why did Iran come to the table? How do you explain Iran’s engagement in Syria and Yemen? Does moderation have a different meaning in Iran? Why didn’t Rouhani make on his promises? Are these signs of progress in Iran, or signs of severe weakness? I am joined by Mitchell Reiss, Bruno Tertrais, Francis Townsend, Senator Robert Torricelli, and Robert Joseph
Mitchell Reiss :Since the end of WWII, the US had 3 objectives in the Middle East. Arab-Israeli peace, flow of oil, preventing any single party rising to power. Iranian regime threatens all three. The State Department labeled the Iranian regime as a state-sponsor of terrorism. The Obama Administration shamelessly reached out to Iran without any conditions. The regime is using funds from nuclear deal to mask its secret nuclear and ballistic missile activities. There is no apparent strategy of how the US is going to organize its battlefield and to appeal to the population. There is no forum for dissident voices and human rights advocates. Tehran continues to stir up unrest in the region. The next US President needs to promote a comprehensive policy on Iran and promoting regime change
Bruno Tertrais : We must have to have a practical policy, not to think Iran would disappear. We have less information now about the Iranian nuclear program than we did last year. The deal created a special procurement channel that has not been used even once. The Obama Admin’s hope to change Iran’s behavior after the nuclear deal, this bet has failed. I think Tehran has a great responsibility in the sectarian violence in the 2000s, just as the USSR was in the outbreak of WWII. It has been helped immensely to the survival of the murderous regime of Bashar Assad. I don’t think the Islamic Republic would afford to drop the Bashar Assad regime. The nuclear deal has had zero effect on the regime’s behavior. The nuclear deal has not changed the Iranian regime’s domestic repression. There were more than 20 limb amputations in Iran in 2015. The supreme leader has made several rabid anti-American speeches. The illusions about change in the Iranian regime have been shattered
Bloomfield: There have been recent German Intelligence reports that the Iranian regime has been trying to procure nuclear materiel outside the deal. There is much evidence on the effect of Iran on the rise of Daesh
Frances Townsend: There have increased attacks on women, more amputations, more executions. The deal has served as cloak for the Iranian regime to cover this aggression. We have seen Gen. Soleimani, a known terrorist, leading Iranian forces in other countries, including Bahrain. The external aggression of the Iranian regime has been historically unprecedented. US indifference to this is troubling to me, giving them a green light that they can continue. I worry deeply about the political situation between Iran and the Saudis. I am deeply concerned that with the three ISIS attacks in Saudi Arabia, the Iranian regime might take advantage. Thinking of the increasing sectarianism the Iranian regime promotes is cause of concern. Under the cloak of this agreement, Iran has become more vocal and there has been more physical abuses. President Obama has not applied his values and standards to the case of Iran. It’s time to rethink our policy on Iran and the region
Robert Torricelli: We find ourselves in a life and death struggle with the Iranian regime on how this planet is going to be governed. This struggle is going to be settled by destruction. There is no chance that Iranians are not going to cheat and there is no chance our gov’t is going to catch them. Iranians are pretending to be saying the truth, and we are pretending to believe them. Today, with Barack Obama as President, having spent 3 trillion dollars on the war in Afghanistan, we are not prepared for that conflict. The regime agreed to retreat from making the bomb, because the majority of people didn’t want it. A new group of leaders are going to face an old problem. We know how to destabilize tyrannical governments that are economically weak; I don’t know why we aren’t doing it? I hope that in the coming Clinton Admin, all our weapons are used
Robert Joseph: One year later, where are we? What did we learn? We learned six lessons. First, Iran maintains and continues to pursue nuclear capability. It continues to operate a nuclear enrichment facility. On the surface, the regime has complied with a number of key articles of the agreement, but they have not eliminated them. They have taken some steps where they have been monitored. But Iran is not complying with a number of key provisions of the agreement. Iran is pursuing over 100 times to acquire illicit technologies. Iran has successfully stonewalled IAEA, and have successfully frustrated IAEA attempts. The recent identification of uranium particles from samples of Parchin indicates the regime was no doubt following a nuclear weapon. The only purpose for long range ballistic missiles is to deliver nuclear weapons. Still Iran has many ways to circumvent the agreement. Third, the regime has expanded its support for terrorist groups and allies, giving them funds from unfrozen assets. An estimated 70.000 occupational force size in Syria. The regime can become more brutal, and it can go nuclear in short order. Fifth, we have learned that the policies of the P5+1 have failed. We have learned that we must change course dramatically. We must recognize that the regime will not moderate, we must pressure it from every direction. We must stop the serial concessions being given to the regime in the economic field. We must counter the Iranian destabilizing activities wherever they are, we must support the Iranian Resistance to this regime, this is the most important thing we should do. Churchill, said: "never give in and never give up “This is the type of determination we need for dealing with the Iranian regime
Bloomfield: Focus on this question, is the Iranian regime succeeding or failing? Khamenei wants all Muslims to view him as substituting the 12th Imam, but he has a handful of paid militias following him. Did Iran come to the table because of lack of legitimacy?
Reiss: I would say the regime is stronger, because they are 40 years in power. There is no imminent threat to topple them. They are massively interfering in others’ affairs without any counter force. Obama said they need to live with the Iranian regime, these are unprecedented words by a US President
Tertrais: The Islamic Republic is dangerous, but the Iranian influence in Iraq is less. Iran has lost a lot of prestige in the Sunni world. The price of oil which is very low compensates the assets they are receiving. I do think they are not as strong in reality today
Townsend: They came to the talks from a position of weakness, but we failed to exploit and increased their strength. Now they have access to international markets, and use their cash to fund their aggression. The abandonment of the Saudis, is the most public betrayal of Saudis by the US. Our strategic allies think that by making the nuclear deal, the US has made a strategic choice of allies
Torricelli: I see separation of US and Saudis inexplicable, it is deeply distressing. I cannot count the number of times Egyptians and Saudis were defended by the US. It is mission impossible for the regime to control the young Iranian nation over a generation
Robert Joseph: At the tactical level, the Iranian regime might seem stronger; but I think the Senator is right. The notion of free and democratic Iran has a tremendous appeal to all generations in Iran. We need to support that notion. We have to regenerate our leadership and support the Iranian people, I don’t think there is any snap-back sanctions provision going to work. It takes years to snap back the sanctions. There are so many political factors involved in this Iranian cases. They are already in violation, the game does not play that way. I don’t think there is any snap-back sanctions provision going to work. It takes years to snap back the sanctions.
Tertrais: Iran is already much beyond the threshold, much higher than Germany, etc. They have invested strongly in their program. Iran’s violations are coming in a few years time. It is a question of who is going to be smarter
Reiss: In US, only one-third of people took up arms and beat the British Empire, so a small group of dedicated people can overcome the regime
Torricelli: The Iranian regime is at best a regional power with failed enterprises.