Iran Edition—Iranian Democracy Party pledges support for nuclear talks and more

Iran EditionBrett Cox provides weekly updates on news and analysis on the Iranian nuclear challenge in Persian language media. In this week's edition, Iran's Democracy Party holds a conference to pledge their support for nuclear negotiations, and more.

 

By Brett Cox

June 17, 2014

Last month, the Supreme Leader re-activated the Strategic Council for International Affairs and announced new members. The short announcement, posted on his press website, also expressed the hope that the Council will be more effective in its duties. A lengthy analysis of the announcement on BBC Farsi listed the new, more conservative members and their background:

Kamal Kharazi - Chair of Strategic Council and Minister of Foreign Affairs under President Khatami

Mehdi Mostafavi-Ahri - former head of the Supreme Leader's international affairs office

Saeed Jalili - former Deputy of National Security Council

General Ahmad Vahidi - former Minister of Defense and Ahmadinejad cabinet member

Ibrahim Shibani - former Iran ambassador to Austria, former President of the Central Bank and member of Ahmadinejad cabinet

Hossein Taremi - former Iran ambassador in Saudi Arabia and China

According to the BBC, the announcement is remarkable as it essentially replaces the moderate and reformist members of the Council with conservative politicians. It goes on to suggest, however, that this may or may not have political significance. The appointees when Khamenei first established the Council in 2006 ranged from former Khatami cabinet members to former advisers of the Supreme Leader himself, all not in decision-making positions at the time. Though the reshuffling shifts the balance in favor of conservatives, it does match the 2006 arrangement of keeping differing opinions in the conversation.

Several days following Khamenei’s announcement, IRNA reported that the Council would be meeting in the coming week to discuss the current nuclear negotiations and general foreign policy strategy.

June 30, 2014

 “A final nuclear deal and improved relations between Iran and the U.S. will increase the potential for cooperation in Afghanistan when the U.S. leaves in 2016.”

––Kayhan Barzegar in the Washington Quarterly

Khabar Online reporting on Bazergar's piece on Iran foreign policy:

Barzegar, a professor at Tehran University and former research fellow at Belfer’s Project on Managing the Atom, continued in his article: “Iran’s foreign policy in Afghanistan after the departure of American forces in 2016 will hinge on two effects, competition and cooperation, with other regional and supra-regional actors, especially Pakistan and America.”

Saeed Jalili
May 24, 2013 - Former Iranian nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili campaigns in Tehran during an unsuccessful presidential bid. Jalili was named last month to Iran's Strategic Council for International Affairs. (Majid Saeedi/Getty Images)

“Since the fall of the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, the Islamic Republic of Iran has followed a two-vein policy there. In one vein, it has been an advocate for maintaining the stability of and assisting Afghanistan’s central government, and in the other it has opposed the presence of foreign troops in the country.”

In a different part of his article, the Iranian professor added: “Afghanistan has a special position in three dimensions of Iran’s national security: civil-cultural, economic-developmental, and political-security.”

According to Barzegar, “A win-win nuclear deal in the current negotiations could subsequently lead to improved relations between Iran and America, which would increase the potential for Iran-US cooperation in solving the crisis in Afghanistan and opposing extremists after US forces leave.”

July 7, 2014

“Not only are we not worried, but we are composed.”

––Mardom Salari’s resolution from a conference last week

Last week, the Democracy Party held a conference in Tehran to pledge their support for and confidence in Iran’s negotiators at the current P5+1 talks in Geneva. The nuclear debate in Iran has produced a new fault line in the political spectrum over foreign policy, specifically over the ongoing negotiations in Geneva: the “Worried”, the “Valiant, and now, the “Composed”.

The event was attended by Hassan Qashqavi, Deputy of Parliament and spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Ali Janati, Minister of Culture and Islamic Guidance, and a number of members of the Democracy Party’s Central Council.

The conference ended with a resolution that takes jabs at the “Worried” and the “Valiant” and promotes the party’s vision as the best way forward. It touts Rouhani’s consensus and its achievements in rescuing the country from the depths it had been forced into by a “Worrier”, referring to former president Ahmadinejad:

“If history can be the least bit of a guide, then we can remember that just one year ago, our country was in a miserable, hopeless state in all realms: political, economic, social, and cultural. And today, we enjoy a hopeful, moderate, stable status…and can expect a bright tomorrow.”

Across the political spectrum in Iran, respect for its right to a nuclear program is an important outcome of the negotiations. The resolution ensures that “the Iranian people’s rights to use nuclear power peacefully will not be shortened one iota”, and that the current team of negotiators will prevail in this endeavor, securing Iran’s future.

July 8, 2014

In the Supreme Leader’s view, enrichment capacity, research and development, and the Fordow installment, are the three important matters in Iran’s nuclear bargaining.

––ISNA reports on a meeting the Supreme Leader held to discuss the issues facing the nation, in which he set out Iran’s red lines with respect to the latest round in Geneva

The Supreme Leader introduced a new number to the conversation. Khamenei says the P5+1’s goal is “to limit Iran to 10,000 centrifuges, but at the beginning they started with 500 to 1,000 (10,000 units meaning 10,000 of the old kind of centrifuges), and now, according to officials, Iran’s actual need is 190,000 units.”

According to Ali Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, “We need 190,000 units to maintain the Bushehr power plant. We must be specific when discussing enrichment… numbers of centrifuges and what generation of centrifuge is being used are separate conversations.” Salehi went on to suggest that building another power plant would be yet another conversation over what equipment and number of centrifuges Iran will need. 

Brett Cox is a research intern at the Project on Managing the Atom at the Belfer Center and a student at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy.