Iran’s view of the deal

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries Sohrab Ahmari’s column on the Iranians’ view of the deal (behind the Wall Street Journal’s subscription paywall). Ahmari seeks to convey the perspective of the regime on the deal.

For the insiders’ perspective Ahmari turned to Iran’s hard-line Kayhan newspaper. The newspaper faithfully mirrors the views of the regime. What the New York Times is to the Obama administration, Kayhan is to the mullahs. Ahmari explains that “the editor of Kayhan — Hossein Shariatmadari currently holds the post — is directly appointed by Mr. Khamenei and is considered the leader’s representative to Iranian media.” In the United States of course, no such arrangement is necessary to keep the Times in sync with the Obama administration. The Times voluntarily performs its service to the administration and throws in Tom Friedman for good measure.

Ahmari spoke by phone with Payam Fazlinejad, “a Kayhan writer and senior researcher and lieutenant of Mr. Shariatmadari’s.” Ahmari reports:

Mr. Fazlinejad’s reading of the Geneva agreement mixes triumphalism and hard-nosed skepticism. “We need to be able to have an accurate view of what occurred and then assess it against the positions of the supreme leader and his guidance,” he says. “But as a general matter, if the right to enrich is accepted, which it has been, then everything that we have wanted has been realized.”

Last year, Mr. Shariatmadari, the editor of the newspaper, wrote that Iran has a right to enrich uranium up to 99%. The Obama administration insists that the Geneva agreement doesn’t enshrine a right to enrich uranium. Yet the deal permits the Iranian regime to continue enriching uranium up to 5%—a level that can be quickly escalated to produce weapons-grade material. Mr. Fazlinejad views the Geneva 5% concession as great-power acquiescence to Tehran’s enrichment program. “Now, the details—including the amount of enrichment and the specific enrichment locations and the technological shape of our enrichment program—are up to our technicians to determine,” he says.

And then there is this, from the regime that is at the head of the pack of state sponsors of terrorism (not that there’s anything wrong with that):

The Kayhan writer warns against perceiving any diplomatic agreement over Iran’s nuclear program as a first step toward broader rapprochement between Washington and Tehran. “The nature of the opposition of the Islamic revolution with the regime of liberal democracy is fundamentally philosophical,” Mr. Fazlinejad says. “It’s an ideological difference. It is not a tactical enmity, or one that has to do with temporary interests, which can be shifted and the enmity thus done away with. . . . So in contrast to all the punditry of late in the international media, which says that these negotiations are a step toward peace between Iran and the United States—those who take this view are completely mistaken.”

On this point, the mullahs and the Obama administration will just have to agree to disagree.

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