A new phase of the Syrian civil war?/ Countering Iran’s “3D”s

Jul 20, 2012

A new phase of the Syrian civil war?/ Countering Iran's "3D"s

Update from AIJAC

July 20, 2012
Number 07/012 #05

This Update features some additional material on the changing situation in Syria following the bomb blast there on Wednesday which killed and wounded several leading regime figures.

First up is noted Middle East scholar Fouad Ajami, who looks at the ethnic reality of the Syrian state behind the recent killings and the current stage of the civil war. Ajami stresses that the Assad regime remains rooted in the Alawite minority, and the latest killing of some key regime players – two important Alawite commanders, and the much-less important Christian defence minister – illustrates how this regime has brought this minority both spoils and peril. He then goes on to point out how the recent massacres in the villages of Houla and Tremseh occurred along the Sunni-Alawite fault-lines, illustrating a larger regime strategy of entangling the entire Alawite community into its crimes and repression, leaving Alawites with no choice but to back the regime to the end. For his full argument, CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, British writer Michael Weiss argues the bomb attack spells the end of any hope for a negotiated outcome in Syria.

Next up, Washington Institute head Robert Satloff says these latest events suggest it is time for Washington and other international players to stop focussing on Kofi Annan’s ineffective UN peace plan, and to move on to preparing for a reasonable smooth transition to a post-Assad future for Syria. He argues it is important to now begin intense efforts to encourage the regime’s rapid collapse – which will make the transition much less difficult and mess – equipped with the lessons of other regional transitions, such as in Libya. He has a series of ideas to accomplish this including very public consultations with the opposition-  excluding Iran and Russia – to create a government-in-exile; intense consultations with Syria’s neighbours to obtain guarantees of minority rights and declarations warning Assad against any desperate last stand; and preparing “the deployment of an international stabilization and humanitarian support force designed to reduce the risks associated with post-Assad transition.” For the rest of the advice of this top expert, CLICK HERE. Meanwhile, the New York Times reports that the US Administration is indeed beginning planning for various aspects of transition to a post-Assad Syria in response to recent events. Also, Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute offers some policy advice on dealing with the threat posed by Syria’s massive stocks of chemical and biological weapons.

Finally, Canadian Human Rights Lawyers and former Attorney-General Irwin Cotler urges the international community to plan to thwart Iran’s program of three “D”s – denial, deception, and delay – before the “technical” nuclear talks scheduled for Turkey next Tuesday. He quotes at length from a senior Iranian official close to the nuclear negotiating team, Hamidreza Taraghi, to demonstrate that the Iranians have been pretty up front that these three “D”‘s are the core of what they are trying to achieve in the nuclear talks. To counter them, Cotler offers six points everyone should understand about the Iranian nuclear standoff, and lists nine things the P5+1 negotiators must demand from Iran if it is to to comply with its international legal obligations. For all of Cotler’s important and detailed analysis, CLICK HERE. Plus, here is some good reporting on the agreements and disagreements between Israel and the US on Iran in their talks over recent weeks.

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Syria’s War Hits the House Of Assad

A rebel bomb tears through a cabinet meeting, killing top lieutenants and relatives of Damascus’s dictator.


Wall Street Journal, July 18, 2012,

It has to come to this in Damascus: Wednesday’s rebel bomb attack on a meeting of Bashar al-Assad’s top lieutenants, killing at least three. The war has come to the House of Assad itself. Syria’s dictatorship had rested on a dynasty, and the terror had to be visited on the dynasty. There could be no airtight security for the rulers.

Asef Shawkat, the ruler’s brother-in-law and deputy chief of staff of the armed forces, was a big player in the regime. He was of a piece with this sordid lot. He had risen from poverty, an Alawite soldier who came to power and fortune when he married the late dictator Hafez Assad’s only daughter. In the politics of this secretive cabal, it was said that Shawkat was a rival of Maher al-Assad, the younger brother of the ruler, who commands its killer brigade.

A maternal cousin, Hafez Makhlouf, was also struck down. The specialty of the Makhlouf cousins was large-scale plunder. They sat astride the crony economy, greedy caterpillars of the realm and bag-men of the House of Assad.

The killing of the defense minister, Daoud Rajha, is of a lower order of importance. A Christian, he was a figurehead in a regime that exalted and trusted only the dominant sect, the Alawites.

The Assads can be said to have brought the Alawites both spoils and peril. They took them—a historically despised community—from the destitution of the mountains, and gave them a dominion of four decades. The edifice was unnatural, a majority Sunni society with pride as to its place in Islamic history submitting to the rule of a “godless” bunch of schismatics.

A merchant-military nexus gave the regime some cover. Sunni and Christian businessmen bought into the Assad enterprise, seeing it as a way of keeping Syria’s fissures from getting worse. The rebellion that broke out some 17 months ago came out of the neglected countryside, the rural Sunni society that had been marginalized and robbed in the rapacious economy of the Makhloufs and the Assads. The regime held on, believing that every new dose of terror would do the trick.

For the good length of this rebellion, Damascus itself was kept out of the fight. There was no love lost for the regime in the warrens and the mosques of that old, broken city. Fear did the trick: The crack units of the regime were based in Damascus. This was, inevitably, where the regime would stand or fall.

An early resolution of this grim war would have kept intact the institutions of the Syrian state, such as they are. It would have enabled the Alawites to walk away from the wreckage, dissociate themselves from the crimes of the Assads, and reach an accommodation with the Sunni majority. But Bashar al-Assad has been sly: He made sure that the Alawites, as a community, were implicated in the recent massacres that have poisoned the well between these two communities.

Alawite villagers were unleashed on their neighbors. They killed at close range. The survivors knew the killers, they had gone to school with them. The fiction that this was regime violence was shredded in the recent horrific massacres. There was method in the cruelty, and this will make itself felt in the phase to come: The Alawite-based regime was rounding out the borders of an Alawite homeland.

The recent killings in the villages of Houla and Tremseh were done on the fault-line between the Alawite mountains and the Sunni plains. In this script, the Alawites would make a run for it, quit Damascus and Homs—cities where their presence had been negligible in past decades—and make a stand in the Alawite mountains and the coast adjoining them. In this scenario, there would be a horrific fight for Damascus. The Alawite military barons and the enforcers alike have grown used to the ease of urban life. The fabled mountains could no longer sustain them.

Forgotten in this descent of Syria into the abyss are the hopes once pinned on Assad. He had married well—a Sunni woman of Homsi background, London-born—and he had talked of reform. His country was desperate to believe him and grant him time. The protesters had started out with graffiti and placards, pleading for reform. A handful of boys in the forlorn southern town of Deraa had started it all: Inspired by Tunisia and Egypt, they scribbled anti-regime graffiti on the walls.

But this regime only knew the rule of the gun. Some 27 “torture centers” cover the country, according to Human Rights Watch. In this first YouTube civil war in our time, the videos tell of a regime that grew more cruel as official panic set in. The Syrians had crossed the Rubicon, for them there would be no return to the servitude of the past.

Mr. Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and the author most recently of “The Syrian Rebellion,” just published by Hoover Press

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By Robert Satloff

PolicyWatch, July 18, 2012

Today’s apparent assassination of top military officials in Syria marks a new and possibly decisive phase in the civil war between Bashar al-Assad’s regime and the broad, loosely coordinated, but clearly potent opposition. For the United States, this turn of events should shift the policy discussion from a UN debate over renewal of the ineffectual Annan peacekeeping mission to ways of exploiting the disarray, namely by pressing Assad to leave power while avoiding outcomes such as chaos, ethnic bloodbath, or jihadist takeover.

With at least three of the eight targeted military leaders apparently dead, the Damascus bombing will almost certainly be a major blow to the regime’s ability to conduct its war against the Syrian people. The impact will be felt both operationally and psychologically, with the potential for cascading problems in conducting military actions across the country. The surviving leadership will have to rebuild a command structure in an environment where increasing numbers of military officers and civilian supporters are likely to see the assassinations as the writing on the wall for the regime and begin to seek alternatives for their own survival. Depending on whether the regime is able to steady itself quickly, the incident could also provide an opportunity for opposition forces to press ahead with creating safe zones in various parts of the country, or even to take decisive action against Assad.


The decimating of Syria’s top security leadership clearly moves the goalposts for U.S. policy. Assad’s near-term demise, while not assured, is now more likely than ever, and if it comes to pass, it will have been achieved by the courage and ingenuity of Syrian opposition forces. For some in Washington, this will validate both the arm’s-length approach the Obama administration has taken to the idea of more direct involvement in the anti-Assad effort and its reliance on economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. In reality, though, Assad’s demise will have come because of armed action by Syrians, not outside measures that came months later than necessary and at the cost of thousands of innocent lives and the potential for greater radicalization in his wake.

But Assad is not yet gone. To facilitate his fall, U.S. policy must now shift gears away from the diplomatic ballet over the Annan mission, the covert effort to support the arming of opposition elements, and the low-intensity effort to organize the Syrian political opposition (via the equally unwieldy collection of nearly a hundred countries in the “Friends of the Syrian People” group). Instead, Washington should build on the Damascus attack to hasten the regime’s collapse, focusing on the dangerous period marked by Assad’s last stand and the emergence of whatever comes next.

Specifically, the administration should do the following:

  • In coordination with key allies, urge Assad both publicly and privately to leave for exile with his remaining family while he still has a chance to avoid the fate of Muammar Qadhafi and Saddam Hussein.
  • Privately urge Iran and Russia to remove any residual military presence in Syria.
  • Convene leaders of the Syrian opposition (both civilian and military) and key “Friends of Syria” (e.g., Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and major European powers) to discuss a blueprint for the endgame, including the formation of a successor government-in-waiting. Neither Russia nor Iran should be invited. This is as much political theater as practical policymaking, given that the goal at the moment should be to drive an ever-deeper wedge between Assad and his shrinking circle of support, especially among Alawites outside his clan and his remaining Sunni collaborators.
  • Work with the Syrian opposition, the Arab League, and Turkey to issue a statement offering specific commitments to the protection of Syrian minorities in the event of Assad’s departure, with reference to Alawites, Christians, Kurds, and Druze.
  • Dispatch military/security officials to consult with Syria’s neighbors — Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel — in a high-profile display of coordination to warn Assad against a desperate, last-chance external adventure.
  • Begin intensive preparations for the deployment of an international stabilization and humanitarian support force designed to reduce the risks associated with post-Assad transition. Its mission should include securing and possibly removing Syria’s chemical weapons stocks, supporting the successor government’s efforts to prevent violent retribution against Alawites and others perceived as pro-Assad, and providing humanitarian assistance. The latter element should include medical care (on hospital ships and onshore) and other aid to Syrians who suffered during the regime’s brutal crackdown, as well as assisting in the repatriation of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Lebanon, and Jordan. Although this could eventually become a UN-sanctioned operation, it is important for the United States to take the lead in defining the mission with key allies as soon as possible.

More generally, Washington now has the opportunity to apply the difficult and often painful lessons learned from political transitions elsewhere in the Middle East over the past eighteen months. While the arc of Syria’s history may be bending toward justice — paraphrasing President Obama’s comments after Egyptian revolutionaries forced Hosni Mubarak out in 2011 — transitions in the Middle East have produced not just popular governments, but also regression in minority rights (Egypt), weapons proliferation (Libya), and the empowerment of political movements long critical of U.S. policy in the region — let alone the emergence of horrific, Taliban-style rule in Mali.

Despite not giving the opposition the material support it has wanted, the United States has avoided damaging its position among Syrians the way Russia has. If the Assad regime is truly on the edge, the Obama administration has been gifted the opportunity to help shape the transition in a way that limits the potential for negative outcomes and, along the way, bolsters America’s standing in a post-Assad Syria.

Robert Satloff is executive director of The Washington Institute.

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Combating Iran’s cycle of denial, deception, and delay


Jerusalem Post, 19/07/2012     

There are a series of specific undertakings that Iran must be called upon to do, and be verified as doing, if it is to comply with its international legal obligations.

Next Tuesday, Iran and six major powers – the permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany (the P5+1) – will hold yet another “technical” meeting in Turkey – in the words of the leading EU negotiator – also yet again – to “look further at how existing gaps in positions could be narrowed and how the process could be moved forward.”

These technical discussions follow three sets of “substantive negotiations” in Istanbul, Baghdad and Moscow, between Iran and the P5+1, all of which ended inconclusively.

While one may hope that the narrowed focus of these talks will somehow produce a dramatically different result than the previous sets of both substantive and technical negotiations, experience demonstrates that such negotiations benefit Iran alone and are part of a comprehensive Iranian strategy. Simply put, while negotiations continue, uranium enrichment is accelerated, the centrifuges spin, and Tehran approaches “breakthrough” capacity for nuclear weaponization – the whole in line with an Iranian strategy of using negotiations as a means for advancing uranium enrichment and the nuclear weaponization program itself.

That this, in fact, may be Iranian strategy was revealed by the Iranians themselves on the eve of the Baghdad negotiations on May 14, where Hamidreza Taraghi, an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and close to the Iranian negotiating team, summed up the Tehran’s “successes” during negotiations as follows: First, Western countries did not want Iran to have a nuclear power plant, but its Bushehr reactor was now connected to the national grid.

Second, the West had opposed Iran having heavy water facilities, but the country now has one in Arak.

Third, the West had said no to any enrichment, “But here we are, enriching as much as we need for our nuclear energy program,” Taraghi said, referring to the thousands of cascades of centrifuges spinning for years in the half-underground facility in Natanz.

Fourth, since January, and on the eve of the resumed substantive negotiations in Istanbul in April, dozens more advanced centrifuges were installed in the Fordo mountain bunker complex, near Qum, built to withstand a heavy attack.

Fifth, Taraghi also said that in the Istanbul talks, Iran had managed to convince the West of the importance of a religious edict, or fatwa, against the possession of nuclear weapons.

In a word, Taraghi and other Iranian officials concluded that their policy “forced the United States to accept Iranian enrichment,” and in effect, the related nuclear program.

Earlier this year, Iranian negotiator Hassan Rowhani elaborated on this strategy: “While we were talking with the Europeans in Tehran, we were installing equipment in parts of the facility in Isfahan.”

Rowhani added, “In fact, by creating a calm environment, we were able to complete the work on Isfahan.”

Indeed, just as with Isfahan, Iranians completed their work on the secret Fordo plant – uncovered by the West in 2009 – but where the groundwork for this facility was laid as early as 2006 according to the International Atomic Energy Agency – and at a time when Iran was offering to return to negotiations.

Moreover, statements this week from Iranian officials – such as Alaeddin Boroujerdi, the chairman of an Iranian foreign policy committee – that substantive talks will resume if sanctions against Tehran are lifted – itself an ongoing Iranian negotiating mantra – support the notion that not only are negotiations themselves a delaying tactic, but delaying the negotiations is itself a tactic – part and parcel of the comprehensive Iranian 3D strategy of denial, deception and delay: Denial of any nuclear weaponization program to begin with; deception as to the depth and breadth of that program; and delay, delay, delay! In addition, the focus on the P5+1 negotiations with Iran is itself receding from the international radar screen in the shadow of the dramatic developments in Egypt, Syria, Libya and the like, thereby advancing the Iranian 3D strategy.

Accordingly, one may well overlook the underlying intersecting dynamics that underpin the Iranian weaponization program and the overall toxic convergence of the Iranian four-fold threat: nuclear; statesanctioned incitement to genocide; statesponsorship of international terrorism – and indeed, Iranian footprints appear yet again in this week’s attack on Israelis in Bulgaria – possibly through its proxy, Hezbollah; and massive domestic repression of human rights. Simply put, this four-fold threat constitutes a clear and present danger to international peace and security, to Middle East and regional stability, and increasingly, and alarmingly so, to the Iranian people themselves.

An understanding of the current negotiating context requires an appreciation of the underlying intersection dynamics, which include: First, there is the standing violation by Iran of international legal prohibitions respecting the development of a nuclear weaponization program. In particular, Tehran continues to violate a series of UN Security Council resolutions involving repeated demands for complete and comprehensive suspension of its enrichment related, reprocessing and heavy water activities – as well as repeatedly violating its obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by denying the IAEA permission to openly inspect their facilities.

Second, there is compelling evidence – particularly that which has emerged from the international nuclear monitor – the IAEA – that Tehran’s nuclear program is, in fact, a nuclear weaponization program. As international expert Anthony Cordesman recently concluded after an examination of IAEA reports, “Anyone who concludes that Iran is not yet pursuing a nuclear weapons program is deluding themselves.”

Third, while the comprehensive economic sanctions – themselves authorized by UN Security Council resolutions – are having an important effect – i.e. Iranian currency has lost half its value, inflation is above 25 percent, unemployment is approaching 35 percents, Iranian oil sits idle in Iranian tankers – the Iranian government is already finding ways to circumvent some of their more detrimental effects by procuring new super-tankers from China, disabling tracking devices in their ships, securing alternative methods of banking, and forging strong trading relationships with countries not in the pro-Western camp.

Fourth, even countries in the pro-Western camp are continuing their trade with Iran.

Indeed, The Jerusalem Post reported last week that “hundreds” of German and Iranian enterprises have a “flourishing trade relationship.”

In particular, German engineering giant Herrenknecht AG reportedly delivered heavy tunnelling equipment to Iran – some of which is promoted as having the capability of “drilling down to depths of 6,000 meters,” which could facilitate the building of an underground nuclear facility.

Providing such “dual-use” items to Iran – items that have civilian utility but could easily be used for prohibited military purposes – is in breach of the sanctions themselves, and runs directly contrary to the stated purposes, goals and objectives of the P5+1.

Equally troubling is the recent Swiss refusal to adopt and endorse EU sanctions barring energy and financial transactions with Tehran. Indeed, some fear this “loophole” may be exploited by oil companies, and it should be noted that Switzerland is one of the top centers for oil trading, and also hosts a branch of the National Iranian Oil Company NICO, although the country does not import oil from Iran.

Fifth, while the P5+1 has affirmed that an Iranian nuclear weapon is “unacceptable” – that the objective is preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon as distinct from containing a nuclear Iran – and that no option “is off the table,” the protracted negotiations and the Iranian 3D strategy exploiting these negotiations – have undercut these declared positions of the P5+1.

Sixth, while there is increasing reference – and indeed indulgence – of the purported fatwa issued by Khamenei prohibiting a nuclear weaponization program as “sinful” and “contrary to Islam” – which some commentators have taken as conclusive in and of itself that Iran’s intentions are peaceful and its nuclear program civil in intent and consequence – this ignores not only the findings of the “military dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program, as determined, inter alia, by the IAEA, but the permissibility within Islam itself to deceive the enemy where it serves a higher interest – including the specific authority in Islam for the supreme leader to do exactly that.

One should recall the report by the IAEA itself in 2009 to the effect that Khamenei as early as 1984 had endorsed a decision by the then-leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to launch a secret nuclear weapons program.

In the words of the IAEA report – and a chilling reminder of Iranian intent and consequence – “according to Khamenei, this was the only way to secure the very essence of the Islamic Revolution from the schemes of its enemies… and to prepare it for the emergence of Imam Mahdi.”

Accordingly, the crucial question, then, is how to prevent what the P5+1 has deemed “unacceptable” – a nuclear Iran – given that the Iranian 3Ds have thus far prevailed? How do we ensure that these P5+1 negotiations succeed in halting the nuclear weaponization program rather than continuing their path of inconclusive results, leading to more weaponization?

There are a series of specific undertakings that Iran must be called upon to do, and be verified as doing, if it is to comply with its international legal obligations. Among these undertakings, which should serve as a benchmark for an effective negotiation, are the following:

1. Iran must undertake to abide by, and fully implement, its obligations under Security Council resolutions and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Iranian compliance should not be seen as a “concession” for which the West must necessarily reward Iran, but rather a set of obligations that Iran must independently adhere to and comply with. Simply put, there is no Iranian “right to enrich,” the most recent of the Iranian negotiating mantras.

2. Iran must – as a threshold requirement – verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program, so as to counter the Iranian strategy of delay, or buying time for a nuclear breakthrough. Indeed, as US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta put it – and international experts have similarly made this point – if the Iranian enrichment program is not suspended, Iran will have a nuclear bomb by the end of 2012, with all the consequences relevant thereto.

3. Iran must ship its supply of enriched uranium out of the country where it can be reprocessed and made available to Iran, under appropriate inspection and monitoring, for use in its civil nuclear program.

4. Iran must verifiably close – and dismantle – its nuclear enrichment plant at Fordow, embedded in a mountain near Qom, which the Iranians had initially denied had even existed. Otherwise, Iranian enrichment at Fordow will enter the zone of impenetrability rendering it closed to inspection and immune from any military strike.

5. Iran must suspend its heavy water production facilities at Arak. It is sometimes forgotten that heavy water is an essential component for producing plutonium, which is the nuclear component North Korea used to build its own nuclear weapon. Simply put, the path to nuclear weaponization need not be traveled by uranium enrichment alone – and the suspending of uranium enrichment, however necessary, will not alone result in Iran verifiably abandoning its nuclear weaponization program.

6. Iran must allow IAEA inspectors immediate and unfettered access to any suspected nuclear sites. Indeed, as a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Iran is bound by its obligations not to pursue nuclear weapons and to open its nuclear sites and installation.

7. It should not be forgotten that Iranian authorities had announced – even boasted – in 2009 and 2010 of their intention to build 10 additional uranium enrichment facilities. The IAEA still has not received any substantive response to its request for information about this nuclear archipelago of additional uranium facilities.

8. Again, one should not ignore that Iran’s nuclear weaponization program continued to advance against the backdrop of the 3Ds of denial, deception, and delay. For example, in 2007 and 2010 Iran continued to conceal its nuclear activities by not informing the IAEA of its decision to build a new nuclear plant at Denkhovia, or the additional enrichment facility – the aforementioned Fordow Fuel Enrichment Plant. Therefore, the need for inspection – and verification – is crucial, and must include the Iranian authorities providing the IAEA the requisite access, as the IAEA has called for, to the necessary documentation, personnel, sites etc. that Iran is concealing.

9. Iranian authorities need to grant the IAEA access to the Parchin military complex near Tehran. As the IAEA has reported, Iran has conducted high explosive testing – possibly in conjunction with nuclear materials – at the complex. As Anthony Cordesman has reported, these are “strong indicators of possible weapons development.”

Yet Iranian authorities have repeatedly denied such access to the IAEA – including refusing such visits in January and February 2012, while at the same time dismissing the IAEA information as a set of “forgeries.” Moreover, Yukiya Amano, the IAEA chief, has called access to Parchin a “priority,” citing also the sanitization of the site – and possible removal of incriminating evidence of weaponization – this past March.

This might explain information that emerged to the effect that the Iranians were prepared to grant access to Parchin.

Interestingly enough, Iran is already being credited for this “concession,” which its alleged sanitization – and cover-up of the evidence – would have made such access less meaningful in any case, and where access to Parchin alone is but a minuscule part of the undertakings to which Iran must adhere.

10. Iran needs to allow the IAEA to install devices on centrifuges for the monitoring of uranium enrichment levels. Simply put, Iran could move to weapons grade uranium even if it is using only low enriched uranium, by increasing both the number and the speed of the centrifuges.

11. As Senators Joe Lieberman, John McCain and Lindsey Graham put it in their recent Wall Street Journal article, there needs to be an additional agreement respecting “intrusive inspections based on the Additional Protocol under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty to ensure the Iranians aren’t lying or cheating about the full scope of their program, as they have in the past.”

12. Negotiations should not ignore, marginalize or be allowed to sanitize Iran’s massive domestic repression, or provide cover for their continuance.

When the US negotiated an arms control agreement with the Soviet Union, it did not turn a blind eye to the USSR’s human rights abuses. Indeed, the Helsinki Final Act linked the security, economic and human rights baskets. Negotiations with Iran should do no less.

13. Nor should the negotiators ignore Iran’s ongoing state-sanctioned incitement to hate and genocide, a standing violation of the Genocide Convention. Simply put, Iran has already committed the crime of incitement to genocide prohibited under international law and should be called to account to cease and desist from such incitement, and its perpetrators called to account.

In summary, given the Iranian 3D pattern of denial, deception and delay, the whole while uranium continues to be enriched and centrifuges continue to spin – and while the nuclear weaponization program is on the verge of a “breakthrough” – only a verifiable abandonment by Iran of its nuclear weapons pursuits will suffice.

For that objective to be secured, negotiations must not be a cover for the 3Ds, but a password to full Iranian compliance with their international obligations, and a benchmark for international peace and security.

The writer is a member of the Canadian Parliament and a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. He is cochairman of the Inter-Parliamentary Group for Human Rights in Iran, and a member of the advisory board of United Against Nuclear Iran. He is a professor of Law (Emeritus) at McGill University.

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