An influential Iranian cleric has warned President Obama not to include Israel in any nuclear negotiations because the Jewish state must be destroyed.
“What is visible is that Obama has agreed to include the fake Zionist regime (Israel) in future negotiations,” said Ayatollah Mohammad Khatami, a member of Iran’s Assembly of Experts.
“However, we firmly believe [Israel] must be wiped off the face of the earth and we don’t recognize [its existence].” Khatami said according to IRNA, the official news agency of the Islamic Republic.
The Assembly of Experts is responsible for appointing the regime’s supreme leader.
After the six-month interim deal was reached last weekend, Obama asked in a telephone call to Benjamin Netanyahu that the Israeli prime minister “take a breather” in his vocal denunciation of the agreement. In return, the two agreed that Israel would send a delegation, headed by Israeli National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen, to Washington to discuss strategy for a permanent agreement.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Friday that all further discussions will have to leave out Israel, IRNA reported, because Iran would not attend a meeting with a state that is headquartered in Jerusalem.
“We consider the Zionist regime as the biggest danger to the region and the world,” Zarif said.
Khatami said America cannot be trusted and that it’s obvious it wants to break its promises made at the Geneva meeting.
“Already, when the ink of the Geneva agreement is not yet dry, the lie is reflected on websites that Iran does not have (uranium) enrichment rights,” he said.
Iran’s Foreign Ministry strongly objected to a White House press release on the terms of last weekend’s Geneva agreement.
“What has been released by the website of the White House as a fact sheet is a one-sided interpretation of the agreed text in Geneva, and some of the explanations and words in the sheet contradict the text of the Joint Plan of Action (the title of the Iran-5+1 world powers deal), and this fact sheet has unfortunately been translated and released in the name of the Geneva agreement by certain media, which is not true,” Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said Tuesday.
Shortly after the Geneva agreement was reached last Sunday, the Islamic Republic’s supreme leader claimed victory.
“I thank God … the new government … was able to legitimize the Iranian nation’s nuclear program on the international stage,” Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said, “and take the initial step in a way that the nuclear rights and the enrichment rights of the Iranian nation are acknowledged by world powers where before they had tried to deny them. (The agreement will) open the way for future big strides in technical and economic progress.”
Early Sunday, Iran and the 5+1 world powers – the five permanent U.N. Security Council members plus Germany – reached agreement in Geneva over its illicit nuclear program.
Under the agreement, Iran, in return for billions of dollars in sanctions relief, will keep much of its nuclear infrastructure, is limited to enriching uranium at the 5 percent level for six months, will convert its highly enriched uranium of 20 percent to harmless oxide and will allow more intrusive inspections of its nuclear plants by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which will be limited to only agreed-on facilities.
On Tuesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced that the Islamic Republic’s uranium enrichment process “will never witness the stop of enrichment in Iran and that enrichment is our red line.”
“The most important fact is that there will be no new sanctions. This means that the sanctions regime has been broken,” Rouhani said.
Khamenei, as negotiations resumed last week, told thousands of Basij militia forces that the Iranian strategy was an “artistic maneuver and the use of different tactics (would be used) to reach different goals and ideals” of the Islamic regime. Stalling tactics for more than a decade have allowed Iran to greatly enhance its nuclear capability to the point it could become nuclear-armed within weeks.
Khamenei called Israel a “rabid dog,” “unclean,” “illegitimate” and “a bastard.”
“The Zionist regime is destined to destruction because this miserable regime was imposed (on the Middle East) based upon force, and no imposed phenomenon can last,” he told the Basij forces.
Basij commanders in return issued a statement Wednesday: “The everlasting covenant with the supreme leader will continue for the full elimination of arrogant powers (America) and the destruction of the Zionist regime. We ask God the same way that had Muslims through the renewed alliance with the Prophet (Muhammad) enter Masjid al-Haram (the grand mosque in Mecca upon the conquest of Mecca by Muhammad), this renewed alliance (with the supreme leader) also prepares the dignified and victorious believers into Al-Aqsa Mosque (the third holiest site in Islam in Jerusalem).”
Reza Kahlili is a pseudonym for a former CIA operative in Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and author of the award-winning book “A Time to Betray” (Simon & Schuster, 2010). He serves on the Task Force on National and Homeland Security and the advisory board of the Foundation for Democracy in Iran (FDI).