FRESH AIR

Iranian Lies Matter

Oct 25, 2022 | Ran Porat

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi meets with Mohamed Eslami, Chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) in Vienna, Austria, September 2021 (credit: Dean Calma / IAEA)
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Rafael Grossi meets with Mohamed Eslami, Chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI) in Vienna, Austria, September 2021 (credit: Dean Calma / IAEA)

The streets of Iran have been simmering for weeks now, with mass protests following the Sept. 16 death in custody of Iranian woman Mahsa Amini, arrested by the regime’s notorious morality police because they said her hijab head scarf was not covering her adequately. Thousands of people have been in the streets in numerous Iranian cities and towns, led by the brave women of Iran, crying ‘enough’, demanding justice, freedom and the removal of the cruel dictatorship in Teheran.

The regime responded with heightened oppression and violence, resulting in the death of at least 200 people and arrests of an unknown but large number of others.

And who is to blame for the unrest in Iran, according to Teheran? Foreign Minister Hossein Amirabdollahian blamed (Sept. 27) “some outside elements like satellite channels, [and] some websites” for organising the protests. Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei,  pointed (Oct. 3) the finger of blame at “external players”, stating: “I am saying explicitly and clearly – [the] riots and insecurity were planned by America and the usurper, fake Zionist regime.” Some regime apologists even go as far as to claim that Amini really worked with Israel and “committed suicide” just to create unrest within Iran.

To those following the never-ending rounds of nuclear talks between the West and Iran to forge a new version of the 2015 JCPOA nuclear deal, this type of argument – laying the blame for the regime’s own lies and cruelty on US and Israeli plots – rings alarm bells. It’s exactly the same propaganda line used by Iranian officials when they were confronted with undeniable evidence that Teheran had been caught red-handed developing nuclear weapons.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian officials have failed to provide “technically credible explanations” regarding human-manipulated uranium particles uncovered in several undeclared sites in Iran as part of the UN agency’s investigation into Iran’s nuclear weapons project, known as the AMAD project. The location of these sites, as well as information about equipment, materials, processes and people involved in AMAD, were discovered when Israeli agents boldly stole a secret stash of nuclear documents from a hidden archive in Teheran in 2018.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, went to great lengths to argue (Aug. 23) that all this evidence is nothing but “fuss that the Israeli regime and the anti-Iranian groups have made against its nuclear program for more than 20 years.”

In fact, Teheran’s demands that the IAEA investigations into Iran’s nuclear weapons activity be shut down are the main reason that the talks over a JCPOA renewal have hit a dead-end, at least for the time being.

Why is it so important for the ayatollahs to have the IAEA probe stopped? After all, negotiations to renew the JCPOA and remove the biting sanctions on Iran’s economy have continued in different formats for more than a year even though all sides know that Iran’s explanations to the IAEA regarding the sites have been complete fabrications. Everyone negotiating knows that the regime has pursued nuclear weapons, and is likely still aspiring to achieve ‘nuclear weapons threshold state’ status – a turn of a screw away from possessing atomic bombs.

Teheran’s reliance on obvious lies is reminiscent of the famous cliché about propaganda, sometimes attributed to chief Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels, that a lie repeated often enough becomes the truth. Do the Supreme Leader Khamenei and those around him believe that lies, repeated enough times, will become truth, and exonerate them from the consequences of deceiving the international community, illegally seeking weapons of mass destruction and killing and torturing their own people?

Rewarding these lies only exacerbates the problem. The renewed JCPOA talks could lead to huge sanctions relief for Iran, and a deal with a government with a proven track record of breaching every agreement and international norm.

In fact, Teheran never kept to the original 2015 nuclear deal, breaking it from day one in numerous important ways.

Even the assumption that a renewed agreement will stop or slow down Teheran’s race towards the bomb is itself a lie. The new and weaker version of the JCPOA being discussed only focuses on Iran’s uranium enrichment capabilities, leaving it to free to pursue the two other essential elements of a nuclear weapon project – developing a nuclear warhead and perfecting the long-range missiles to carry such warheads.

Worse, technically speaking, the enrichment horses have already bolted the barn, so shutting the door now will do no good whatsoever.

Renewed monitoring and limitations on Iran’s atomic facilities simply cannot undo the irreversible progress Iran’s scientists have recently made – amassing enough indigenous knowledge, equipment and highly fissile material for 1-3 atomic bombs.

Teheran’s strategy is the same across the nuclear board and the home front – to build a tower of lies, stack them one on top of each other and hope that it is high enough to become self-sustaining. Appeasing the ayatollahs via an agreement providing Iran with billions of dollars in sanctions relief while doing almost zero to stop their obvious nuclear weapons aspirations would only validate the regime’s lies. It would be fuel for their terrorist tentacles across the Middle East, and a prize to the people responsible for Mahsa Amini’s death, providing them more funds to continue stifling women’s and human rights in Iran.

Australia has a clear national interest in supporting increased pressure on Teheran – both as a message to the freedom-aspiring Iranian people, and as a way to hold accountable their oppressors for their serial human rights violations, their illegal nuclear weapons program, their rogue behaviour and the miasma of lies that facilitates all three.

 

Dr. Ran Porat is an AIJAC Research Associate. He is also a Research Associate at the Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation at Monash University and a Research Fellow at the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Reichman University in Herzliya.

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