Bob Feferman
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI)

Beware: Iran’s Leaders Are Not Potential Moderates

Reports of a potential agreement between the P5+1 and Iran indicate that this dangerous regime could be left as a nuclear threshold state. In his brilliant essay, Michael Doran makes the case that the Obama administration has been deluded into thinking that a nuclear deal, even a bad one, would help change the nature of this virulently anti-American and theocratic regime by empowering the so-called “moderates” spearheading Iran’s nuclear negotiations.

Reality check: the current leadership of Iran is anything but moderate, nor do they have the potential to transform into moderates. Any deal that leaves Iran as a nuclear threshold state would have grave consequences for the security of the United States and Israel.That’s why it’s important to look at the record of Iran’s current leaders, the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei and President Hassan Rouhani. 1994 is a good place to start.

On July 18th, 1994, a deadly suicide car bomb exploded outside the AMIA Jewish community center in Buenos Aires, Argentina killing 85 people and injuring hundreds more. Following an exhaustive investigation, in 2006, Argentina’s Attorney General Alberto Nisman, stated in this detailed indictment:

“…it can be said with certainty that the highest-echelon Iranian government officials were directly responsible for the AMIA attack. Toward this end, we will show that said officials made the decision to carry out the attack, defined the manner in which it was to be implemented, and instructed the terrorist organization Hezbollah to carry out the operation in its capacity as a mere instrument, in this case, of the will of the Teheran government…”.

At the time of the AMIA bombing, the Supreme Leader of Iran was the Ayatollah Khamenei and Hassan Rouhani was Secretary of the Supreme National Security Council, the body responsible for planning the bombing. In conversations with a reporter from the Miami Herald, Nisman said he believed that Rouhani was directly involved in the planning of the attack.

Would supposed “moderates” plan the bombing of a community center in a neutral country located in a totally different hemisphere?

Indeed, the recent tragic death of Alberto Nisman under mysterious circumstances raises even more questions about the current Iranian leadership.

According to a report in The New York Times, “Intercepted conversations between representatives of the Iranian and Argentine governments point to a long pattern of secret negotiations to reach a deal in which Argentina would receive oil in exchange for shielding Iranian officials from charges that they orchestrated the bombing of a Jewish community center in 1994”.

Days before his death, Alberto Nisman had accused the President of Argentina and the Foreign Minister of being responsible for the attempted cover-up. The case of the AMIA bombing brings us to the second point.

While current President Rouhani is no moderate, it is the Supreme Leader, the Ayatollah Khamenei, who holds the reins of power. As Iran expert Karim Sadjadpour wrote, “Khamenei is the single most powerful individual in a highly factionalized, autocratic regime”. And Ali Ayatollah Khamenei is a committed fundamentalist.

Whereas the world rightly focused its attention on the previous Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and his threats to “wipe Israel off the map”, it has largely ignored the same threats by the Ayatollah Khamenei. Moreover, the international community has failed to hold Khamenei accountable for what amounts to incitement to genocide.

The advocacy group United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) tracks the statements of Khamenei, and the daily record of extremist activity under Rouhani, which provide clear proof of how dangerous it would be to leave Iran as a nuclear threshold state.

Last November, Khamenei shared via Twitter a graphic on, “9 key questions about [the] elimination of Israel,” which included the recommendation that, “…The West Bank should be armed like Gaza”. Khamenei certainly knows a thing or two about arming Gaza.

It is the Iranian regime under the leadership of Khamenei that is responsible for providing Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza with an endless supply of rockets and the technological know-how to manufacture them. Indeed, the world has largely ignored the fact that since Israel unilaterally left Gaza in 2005, terrorists fired more than 11,000 rockets from Gaza at Israeli civilians even before last summer’s fighting in Operation Protective Edge.

Would “moderates” supply rockets to terrorists and threaten the destruction of a sovereign nation? Obviously not.

Any deal that leaves Iran as nuclear threshold state would prove to Tehran the benefits, rather than the costs, of threatening genocide and being the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism. Instead of encouraging moderation, it would reward extremism.

Wishful thinking is not a foundation for clear-headed foreign policy, and history has taught us that we cannot ignore the past. Nobel Prize Laureate and Holocaust survivor Eli Wiesel said, “If there is one lesson I hope the world has learned from the past it is that regimes rooted in brutality should never be trusted. And the words and actions of the leadership of Iran leave no doubt as to their intentions”.

The Obama administration would be wise to heed his advice.

About the Author
Bob Feferman is Outreach Coordinator for United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI), a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group that seeks to prevent Iran from fulfilling its ambition to obtain nuclear weapons. UANI’s private sanctions campaigns and state and Federal legislative initiatives focus on ending the economic and financial support of the Iranian regime to compel Iran to abandon its illegal nuclear weapons program, support for terrorism and gross human rights violations.