Renewed negotiations over a return to or revision of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)—the nuclear deal between Iran and world powers from which former President Donald Trump withdrew in 2018—kicked off in Vienna on Monday with feigned fanfare.
The Islamic Republic has made it clear that no agreement can be discussed, let alone reached, unless all sanctions hindering the regime’s operations are removed. It has also been engaging in double-speak, bragging about its strides in uranium-enrichment, on the one hand, while insisting that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, on the other.
Nobody buys the latter assertion, but the other parties to the JCPOA have convinced themselves that the interests of all concerned are best served through diplomacy. Never mind that Tehran refuses to allow American representatives anywhere near the room where the talks are being held. Washington is willing to have the mullahs dictate the terms of the entire arrangement, and let European, Russian and Chinese envoys enjoy face-to-face contact with their Iranian counterparts.
This makes chief Iranian army spokesperson Brig. Gen. Abolfazl Shekarchi’s interview on Saturday—a mere 48 hours before the start of the kowtowing in Austria—all the more relevant and chilling. Though the powers-that-be in Tehran have never hidden their desire for the destruction of the United States (the “Great Satan”) and Israel (the “Small Satan”), Shekarchi’s words in the current context should serve as sufficient cause for America to call off the whole charade.
Speaking to the regime-controlled Iran Students News Agency (ISNA), Shekarchi announced that Israel’s annihilation is his country’s “greatest ideal before us and the greatest goal we pursue.”
He additionally mentioned the assassination of the head the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ Quds Force in a U.S. drone strike nearly two years ago, saying that the “highest level of revenge for martyr [Maj. Gen. Qassem] Soleimani’s blood is the withdrawal of Americans from the region.”
Asked why the “arrogant” global powers, particularly the United States and the “Zionist regime,” have come to the conclusion that they cannot confront Iran, and therefore have no choice but to negotiate, he replied: “When we refer to ‘the Zionists,’ many … think of the occupying regime in Jerusalem … [but] we recognize the occupying regime in Jerusalem as a tool of international Zionism.”
He went on to describe how this “occupier regime” came and took over an “important part of the Islamic world [by] raping and oppressing Muslims.”
“Anyone with a Muslim name, like Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and any regime that helps this fake regime [Israel], is a part of this regime,” he added, alluding to the Abraham Accords, which he slammed, while asserting that it’s impossible to get along with the America.
“The oppressed nations that are being forcibly enslaved by the United States today are having their underground facilities and resources looted,” he claimed, describing the “new ignorance fed to the people by the infidel world” as “civilization.”
Yes, he continued, “in terms of thinking, there is no gap between Britain, France and America.”
Given the shared supplicatory stance of the above three Western countries, he was pretty accurate, though he was actually trying to lump them together as colonialist/imperialist invaders, rather than peace-and-quiet-seekers at all costs.
Ditto for his final remark about America, the intent of which was to illustrate the inevitable victory of Islamist forces against the West, but is not far from an apt depiction of its decline in the eyes of its enemies.
“Every day since the Islamic Revolution 43 years ago, the United States has fallen several hundred meters from the mountain peak, and is now near the valley,” he said. “Is it wise to go after an America that is falling into the valley!? Naturally, you have to abandon America, which is on a downward slope. Not only has it achieved nothing, but it’s also lost its dignity.”
Coming from a despotic, ayatollah-led regime whose people are abused and impoverished, the assertion that the United States hasn’t accomplished anything over the past four decades is ridiculous. But there is more than a grain of truth to the second allegation, and not merely because former President Jimmy Carter sat by helplessly while Islamists took over Iran and held dozens of U.S. embassy staff hostage for 444 days.
Former President Barack Obama’s administration, too, humiliated itself by pleading with Iran to sign the disastrous JCPOA in the first place—rewarding it with tranches of cash, and proceeding to ignore its multiple and egregious violations of the pact. Today, it’s President Joe Biden’s team that’s bowing down and bending a knee.
Sadly, it doesn’t matter that The Jerusalem Post’s Benjamin Weinthal exposed Shekarchi’s pre-Vienna interview, which ISNA posted solely in Farsi, with no traces on its English-language website. Biden and his European, Russian and Chinese bidders in the Austrian capital are perfectly capable of and happy to put Iran’s intentions aside in order to push their agenda forward.
Ruthie Blum is an Israel-based journalist and author of “To Hell in a Handbasket: Carter, Obama, and the ‘Arab Spring.’ ”