Iran would extend talks for a final nuclear deal with world powers beyond a June 30 deadline if need be to satisfy red lines drawn this week by its supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a senior Iranian official said.

“Iran will work hard to reach an agreement within the specified time of three months or even sooner, but if the deal doesn’t meet the criteria the leader has introduced for a good deal, we would extend the time,” said Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi, a member of the Iranian negotiating team, in televised comments reported Friday by the Mehr News Agency…

Among the red lines for Iran, Mr. Khamenei said, is that his country won’t allow for outside inspections of military sites, a condition that the U.S. and five other powers in the talks—China, Russia, France, Germany and the U.K.—are unlikely to accept

Mr. Khamenei also insisted that all sanctions on Iran be removed as soon as the deal was finalized. But the U.S. wants the sanctions to be gradually removed.

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Iran can resume enriching uranium to higher levels at “any time” if the international community doesn’t live up to its commitments under a proposed nuclear deal, the head of Iran’s nuclear program said…

Salehi’s speech is the latest in a string of public remarks by top Iranian officials that have systematically unraveled what President Obama has called a “historic understanding” that was supposed to lead to a permanent deal limiting Iran’s nuclear program and preventing it from developing a nuclear weapon.

“Regarding the 20-percent [enriched] uranium, any time that the opposite side does not live up to its commitments, we can join two cascades of centrifuges to produce more than five kilos of 20-percent uranium,” Salehi was quoted by state-controlled Press TV as saying.

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The White House Friday hit back at Iranian assertions that sanctions against the nation be lifted as soon as a nuclear deal is finalized, saying a pact with Tehran would not go through unless such penalties were removed in phases

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani demanded Thursday that all sanctions against the country be lifted “the same day” any agreement is signed. Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei then went on to call the U.S. “devilish” and expressed doubts about the agreements being finalized…

“The supreme leader has said many, many things over the years that we have strong objections to,” Rhodes said.

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The international framework nuclear agreement reached in Switzerland last week makes no specific mention of Iran’s Parchin military facility—a key location of suspected nuclear weapons work.

The omission of Parchin in the formal statements released by negotiators after the deal was reached is raising questions about whether Iran will agree to disclose all details of its work on building nuclear arms.

“Parchin has been the center of Iran’s weaponization efforts for decades,” said John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.
“There is simply no provision for adequate international inspections of Parchin or any other weaponization-related activities, including Iran’s ballistic-missile programs,” Bolton added. “We have only our own intelligence capabilities, which Iran and North Korea have repeatedly evaded.”

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Was Lausanne, in fact, an “historic misunderstanding”?…

Since the “framework” was announced Tehran and Washington have been at odds over the timing of the withdrawal of sanctions. And on Thursday State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke reiterated the U.S. position, arguing, “The process of sanctions suspension or relief will only begin after Iran has completed its major nuclear steps…That’s consistent with what we said over the last week or so, and that was agreed upon by all the parties,” he said.

There is that word “agreed” again. A post-Lausanne negotiating ploy or not, Khamenei’s intervention is an example of the slipperiness of Tehran when it comes to negotiations. Back in 1979, U.S. diplomat Bruce Laingen, an old Iran hand and the most senior American official held captive during the Iran hostage crisis, warned in a cable to take nothing at face value when it comes to talks with Tehran as “statements of intention count for almost nothing.”

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Khamenei’s remarks could be bluster, tactical positioning for some domestic or international audience. But they are entirely consistent with recent Iranian behavior. His speech suggests that Iran still fundamentally sees itself in a holy war with the West, a war that can be managed prudently but that is still a fundamental clash of values and interests. His speech suggests, as Henry Kissinger and George Shultz put it in a brilliant op-ed essay in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday, that there is no congruence of interests between us and Iran. We envision a region of stable nation-states. They see a revolutionary anti-Western order.

If Iran still has revolutionary intent, then no amount of treaty subtlety will enforce this deal. Iran will begin subtly subverting any agreement. It will continue to work on its advanced nuclear technology even during the agreement. It will inevitably use nuclear weaponry, or even the threat of eventual nuclear weaponry, to advance its apocalyptic interests. Every other regional power will prepare for the worst, and we’ll get a pseudo-nuclear-arms race in a region of disintegrating nation-states.

If President Obama is right and Iran is on the verge of change, the deal is a home run. But we have a terrible record of predicting trends in the Middle East. Republican and Democratic administrations have continually anticipated turning points in the Middle East: Republicans after interventions, Democrats after negotiations. But the dawns never come.

At some point, there has to be a scintilla of evidence that Iran wants to change. Khamenei’s speech offers none. Negotiating an arms treaty with Brezhnev and Gorbachev was one thing. But with this guy? Good luck with that.

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The inspection promises are a farce. We haven’t even held the Iranians to their current obligation to come clean with the International Atomic Energy Agency on their previous nuclear activities. The IAEA charges Iran with stonewalling on 11 of 12 issues.

As veteran nuclear expert David Albright points out, that makes future verification impossible — how can you determine what’s been illegally changed or added if you have no baseline? Worse, there’s been no mention of the only verification regime with real teeth — at-will, unannounced visits to any facility, declared or undeclared. The joint European-Iranian statement spoke only of “enhanced access through agreed procedures,” which doesn’t remotely suggest anywhere/anytime inspections. And on Thursday, Iran’s supreme leader ruled out any “extraordinary supervision measures.”…

Obama imagines that this deal will bring Iran in from the cold, tempering its territorial ambitions and ideological radicalism. But this defies logic: With sanctions lifted, its economy booming and tens of billions injected into its treasury, why would Iran curb rather than expand its relentless drive for regional dominance?

You set out to prevent proliferation and you trigger it. You set out to prevent an Iranian nuclear capability and you legitimize it. You set out to constrain the world’s greatest exporter of terror threatening every one of our allies in the Middle East and you’re on the verge of making it the region’s economic and military hegemon.

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As a nuclear power, Iran will find new friends eager to sign on to its project of challenging the established order—an order underwritten by American power. In effect, an Iranian bomb will engender another empire in thrall to evil. 

Tehran has already seeded assets in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. A Defense Intelligence Agency assessment contends that within a year, the Iranians will have a ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

The White House argues that the only alternative to its terrible deal is war, but that’s nonsense. Iran has no ability to make war on the United States except as a continuation of the terrorist war it has been waging against us for the last 36 years. As the former prime minister of Israel Ehud Barak and Senator Tom Cotton have argued, the White House is overstating both the nature of the military strike that would bring Iran’s program to a halt and Iran’s capacity to retaliate.

But all that changes once Iran gets the bomb. At that point, as Kissinger and Shultz know only too well, we must contend with the prospect that they will use it. A similar prospect caused the United States and the Soviet Union to engage in a high-stakes struggle on four continents for nearly half a century. Obama’s foreign policy legacy, enshrined by a deal that opens the door to an Iranian nuke, wouldn’t be a historic reconciliation with an adversarial regime, but a return to the nightmare of the Cold War.

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The gradual expiration of the framework agreement, beginning in a decade, will enable Iran to become a significant nuclear, industrial and military power after that time—in the scope and sophistication of its nuclear program and its latent capacity to weaponize at a time of its choosing. Limits on Iran’s research and development have not been publicly disclosed (or perhaps agreed). Therefore Iran will be in a position to bolster its advanced nuclear technology during the period of the agreement and rapidly deploy more advanced centrifuges—of at least five times the capacity of the current model—after the agreement expires or is broken…

Some of the chief actors in the Middle East are likely to view the U.S. as willing to concede a nuclear military capability to the country they consider their principal threat. Several will insist on at least an equivalent capability. Saudi Arabia has signaled that it will enter the lists; others are likely to follow. In that sense, the implications of the negotiation are irreversible.

If the Middle East is “proliferated” and becomes host to a plethora of nuclear-threshold states, several in mortal rivalry with each other, on what concept of nuclear deterrence or strategic stability will international security be based? Traditional theories of deterrence assumed a series of bilateral equations. Do we now envision an interlocking series of rivalries, with each new nuclear program counterbalancing others in the region?

Previous thinking on nuclear strategy also assumed the existence of stable state actors. Among the original nuclear powers, geographic distances and the relatively large size of programs combined with moral revulsion to make surprise attack all but inconceivable. How will these doctrines translate into a region where sponsorship of nonstate proxies is common, the state structure is under assault, and death on behalf of jihad is a kind of fulfillment?

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We have the Obama administration saying Iran agreed not to operate advanced centrifuges, and the Iranians saying they will begin operating them the day after a deal is signed. We have the Obama administration saying sanctions can snap back, and the Iranians saying they’ll be gone once and for all the very day the deal is signed. We have the Obama administration saying there will be a strict inspections and verification regime, and the Iranians saying there won’t be anytime/anywhere inspections. We have the Obama administration trying to reassure us that it won concessions on the underground site at Fordow and the heavy-water reactor at Arak (and, indirectly, on the military testing site at Parchin), and the Iranians boasting they’ve given up nothing serious with respect to any of them. We have the Obama administration reassuring us that Israel will be fine—but saying that it’s crazy to ask the Iranian regime to recognize Israel’s right to exist.

It’s hard to see Barack Obama or John Kerry ever walking away from a deal. But it might be possible to put enough pressure on Obama and Kerry that they would have to clarify various aspects of the deal in ways that might cause Iran’s supreme leader to decide it’s not worth it. Khamenei thinks we’re the Great Satan. We can take a cue from this. We can find devilish details to highlight. We can heighten the contradictions, exacerbate the tensions, make unacceptable the ambiguities, and thus tempt the Iranians to decide to walk away.

All other fronts of opposition should be pursued as well. The case against the deal should be made comprehensively, emphasizing the nature of the Iranian regime, the overall impact of this deal on the Middle East, the ways the deal will make war more likely. But the best prospect for victory is to stop the deal before it happens. The three months until the planned final signing ceremony are an opportunity for disrupting, and indeed derailing, the deal.

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Via the Free Beacon.