Iran's Suspect Deal in the Making: The Mullahs Devious Tactics Of Taqiyah (Obfuscation), Kitman (Dissimulation), And Istitar (Pulling A Curtain)
23 March 2015
By Amir Taheri
By all indications both the Islamic Republic's ''Supreme Guide'' Ali Khamenei
and US President Barack Obama appear determined to reach some sort of
agreement on the Iranian nuclear issue. The deadline they seem to have fixed
is March 31, which coincides with the end of Iranian New Year holidays.
Earlier this week, in an interview with Reuters, Obama hinted at the broad
outlines of the putative accord.
Under it, Iran's nuclear program will be frozen at more or less the present
level which, speaking quickly so that he would say it without being caught
out, Obama said would keep Iran a year away from building its first bomb if
it ever decided to do so.
In exchange, Iran would agree to remain in that position, known as
''threshold,'' for 10 years, a ''sunset'' clause that could be reviewed after
In other words, after a minimum of five and a maximum of 10 years Iran would
be free to cross the ''threshold'' from the current one year to months or
even weeks, going high-gear producing a nuclear arsenal. In other words,
Obama has decided to resign himself to the possibility of a nuclear-armed
As a reward for accepting the five to 10 years' probation, Iran would benefit
from a gradual reduction and eventual lifting of some sanctions imposed since
the 1990s. (A range of sanctions imposed prior to that date and linked to
other ''mischiefs'' allegedly committed by Iran would not be affected by any
accord on the nuclear issue.)
Provided it actually happens, such an accord would amount to an admission by
Iran that it has committed ''crimes'' in the form of violating the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and thus must endure international probation
for up to a decade.
The accord would also give the P5+1 group, of which the US is the most active
member, what is known in diplomatic language as a droit-de-regard (right of
supervision) on major aspects of Iranian industrial and economic policies.
The whole P5+1 show has quite a few disturbing aspects.
To start with, the P5+1 is an informal ad hoc body whose legitimacy remains
murky at best.
We don't know who or what it represents as a group.
It is not mandated by the United Nations; for that we should have had a
Security Council resolution spelling out its composition, rules of conduct,
and mission statement. The fact that talks have ignored six Security Council
resolutions on the very subject of Iran's nuclear program shows that the P5+1
is not acting on behalf of the UN.
The group does not represent any economic or military alliance, for example
the European Union and/or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO),
either. It doesn't even represent an informal but generally recognized
grouping such as the G-8—if only because Russia, which remains a member of
the P5+1, has been expelled from the G-8.
To sum up: the P5+1 has no legal existence, no mandate, no mission statement,
and thus no authority to conclude any accord with Iran which is a properly
constituted nation state, a member of the UN and thus enjoys full sovereignty
Then we face the question of who is going to sign any accord and on whose
On the Iranian side the answer is clear: any properly mandated official of
the Islamic Republic could sign.
But, what about the other side?
Would all P5+1 countries sign and, if yes, at what level?
Even then, what would the European Union's Foreign Affairs tsarina Federica
Mogherini do? Theoretically, she is supposed to be the P5+1's interface with
the Islamic Republic.
Another question concerns the status of whatever is eventually signed. Would
it be just a desiderata list, as was the case with the so-called Geneva
Accord, later devalued into just a press statement?
Or are we aiming at a Memorandum of Understanding which, in diplomatic lore,
is a rough copy for a proper treaty?
Or, perhaps, the aim is to arrive at an international treaty in due form?
In that case, whatever is initialed at the end of the current talks would
have to be submitted to proper legislative procedure in Iran, in all P5+1
countries, and in all 28 member states of the European Union.
I doubt that the Islamic Majlis, Iran's ersatz parliament, would approve a
text that puts the nation under foreign tutelage for up to 10 years, despite
its being made up of regime loyalists.
Iranians of all ideological shades are allergic to foreign intervention in
their domestic affairs. And the painful memories of 1919, when Britain and
Russia tried to put Iran under their joint tutelage are still burning many
Even Khomeinists, who as pan-Islamists reject nationalism as deviation from
''the Only True Faith,'' might not find it easy to accept an accord under
which Iran would need the signature of foreign powers to spend its own money,
and that for up to 10 years.
On the other side, the US Congress as well as the French and British
parliaments are also unlikely to rubber-stamp a text that would leave Iran
only a year from making a bomb.
All international treaties include a mechanism for arbitration without which
it would be impossible to gauge compliance.
So who or what is going to be the arbitration authority and the guarantor of
compliance of whatever text is concocted by US Secretary of State John Kerry
and his Khomeinist counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif?
If we go by the five to 10 year clause it is clear that neither Kerry nor
Zarif are likely to be in a position of power when those fatidic sunsets
Even then, we would not be at the end of the story.
Someone would still have to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security
Council demanding the cancellation of all previous resolutions under which
Iran has been subjected to international sanctions for decades.
President Hassan Rouhani and his so-called ''New York Group'' of aides would
be doing Iran and even their own Khomeinist camp a big disservice by
submitting to the diktats of an informal group acting as judge, jury and
Iran would do better to hold direct and transparent talks on an equal legal
footing with the US, nation to nation, and with the UN as a member state, and
with any other country with which there is a contention, on all issues of
The mullahs are known for devious tactics of taqiyah (obfuscation), kitman
(dissimulation), and istitar (pulling a curtain) when they want to surrender
without losing face. However, such tactics are not worthy of a proper nation
state, especially a proud one such as Iran.
Amir Taheri was born in Ahvaz, southwest Iran, and educated
in Tehran, London and Paris. He was Executive Editor-in-Chief of the daily
Kayhan in Iran (1972-79). In 1980-84, he was Middle East Editor for the
Sunday Times. In 1984-92, he served as member of the Executive Board of the
International Press Institute (IPI). Between 1980 and 2004, he was a
contributor to the International Herald Tribune. He has written for the Wall
Street Journal, the New York Post, the New York Times, the London Times, the
French magazine Politique Internationale, and the German weekly Focus.
Between 1989 and 2005, he was editorial writer for the German daily Die Welt.
Taheri has published 11 books, some of which have been translated into 20
languages. He has been a columnist for Asharq Alawsat since 1987. Taheri's
latest book "The Persian Night" is published by Encounter Books in London and