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Op Ed - Iranian Affairs

Why Iran cannot accept Pompeo’s “No Pre-Conditions” offer

By Heshmat Alavi

During his recent visit to Europe, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attended a press conference with his Swiss counterpart on June 2 and responded to a question about recent remarks made by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on engagement without U.S. pressure.

“We are certainly prepared to have that conversation when the Iranians can prove that they want to behave like a normal nation,” Pompeo said.

These remarks sparked a variety of reactions inside the mullahs’ regime in Iran.

“The U.S. Secretary of State expressed his readiness for talks without preconditions. However, he also emphasized the American effort to fundamentally reverse the malign activity of this Islamic Republic will continue,” the Fararu website wrote.

Friday marked the beginning of Pompeo’s third visit to Europe in the span of 30 days, with all meetings focusing mainly on Iran. The U.S. top diplomat began his five-day tour with a 45-minute meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

Prior to the meeting, Pompeo attended a press conference where Merkel stressed how Iran would be the main issue of their discussions, and how to prevent Tehran from obtaining nuclear weapons and continue further aggressive measures.

Such language from Merkel is quite damning for Tehran considering how the mullahs are counting on Germany in their effort to preserve and obtain political/economic interests out of mutual relations.

Pompeo also met with his German counterpart Heiko Maas, who has voiced differences of opinion with Washington’s approach, yet is “certain about our agreement with the U.S. over the necessity of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.”

It is worth noting that Pompeo made critical remarks about Iran’s delaying in signing bills related to the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a convention aimed at fighting to disrupt money laundering and funds for terrorist groups. Various FATF regulations will bring about major restrictions for Iran’s banking systems.

“Iran has utterly failed to meet its commitments under the FATF action plan that [Iran] had agreed to back in 2016. As part of that plan, Iran committed to ratify both the UN Palermo Convention on Transnational Organized crime and the UN Terrorism Finance Convention. But, as we might expect from the world’s number one state sponsor of terror, they’ve chosen not to do that yet. Today, I call on Iran to ratify both treaties without delay and to do so without reservation,” Pompeo said.

From the mullahs’ regime, we are witnessing mixed reactions in response to Pompeo’s negotiations with no pre-conditions proposal.

“Considering the new decision and measures scheduled for White House officials, they are once again throwing the ball into Tehran’s court,” wrote Iran’s Jahan-e Sanat (World of Industry) daily. “As a result, it is necessary for Iran’s diplomatic apparatus to use this opportunity and seek engagement with Washington.”

Keyhan daily, however, provided a completely different narrative. Known as the mouthpiece of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, this outlet published a piece titled, “Pompeo’s deception in offering negotiations without preconditions makes only idiots happy.”

“The U.S. is threatening war against us so we would give in to new negotiations… The Trump administration exited [the 2015 nuclear deal] and is now attempting to dictate a new deal with more comprehensive criteria (including a permanent nuclear deal encompassing our missile program and regional influence). This is not negotiations. In fact, this will place [the regime] before prosecution and allow [the U.S.] to enforce their demands. In other words, [Pompeo’s] 12 conditions,” the piece further explains.

Adding to Iran’s troubles is the latest position taken by U.S. President Donald Trump during his visit to London. Asked whether he would take military action on Iran, Trump said there is always a chance but I prefer to negotiate.

“… Iran is a place that was extremely hostile when I first came into office,” Trump told British television station ITV. “They were a terrorist nation number one in the world at that time and probably maybe are today.”

The regime ruling Iran, facing a brewing economic crisis and Rouhani talking about “tough times” recently, needs money. This can only be provided through talks and concessions to the U.S. However, such a development means Tehran would have to take major steps back from its support for terrorism, ballistic missile development and proliferation, and … Such a scenario would result in a meltdown of the mullahs’ regime in its current form.

If the mullahs choose to stand their ground, it would become an absolute certainty that Washington will continue its “maximum pressure” policy. This is certain, especially with the global oil market remaining stable despite the U.S. sanctioning oil from Iran and Venezuela.

Due to this impasse, we are witnessing senior Iranian officials speaking of negotiations on one day, while seeking to save face by making remarks about “standing firm” the next day.

Former Obama administration officials and other American figures are reportedly advising Tehran to wait out Trump’s first term. However, facing a complete oil embargo, the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) blacklisted, its regional influence under escalating pressure and a domestic fire simmering in the ashes of protests/uprisings, the mullahs know their days are numbered.

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