By wearing down U.S. negotiators in nuclear talks, buying time and winning concessions, Iran has gained more room to achieve its dream of acquiring a nuclear bomb, an Iranian dissident in exile told Newsmax TV
A seven-month extension
that prolongs negotiations well into 2015 only increases Iran's opportunities to become a nuclear power, Alireza Jafarzadeh of the National Council of Resistance of Iran told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner.
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Iranian leaders and their negotiators "are not backing down, and they see no reason to back down," said Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the council's U.S. representative office.
"Look at this whole process in the past one year." he said. "Tehran has managed to stall and basically try to incrementally wear down the resolve of the United States."
Iran has also changed the terms of the debate over the entire 12 years of an American-led international effort to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons, said Jafarzadeh.
A decade ago, he said, the issue was not the number of centrifuges Iran would be allowed to operate for enriching uranium as part of an ostensibly peaceful nuclear energy program "because Tehran hardly had any centrifuges at the time."
The early negotiations proceeded from an assumption that "there would be no enrichment at all, no centrifuge machines," he said, and that Iran "should have no research and development, they should basically dismantle their program and they should [disclose] the extent of their activities — what they have been hiding for three decades."
Today, he said, the discussion revolves around how many centrifuges Iran can keep and what sort of research and development is approved.
Negotiations under the Obama administration — "particularly in the last year," he said — have effectively "legitimized the nuclear program of Iran" and emboldened Tehran to bar international inspectors from key scientific and military installations suspected of weapons work, said Jafarzadeh.
He also scoffed at Secretary of State John Kerry's recent pronouncement that "verification is the key" in any U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.
"Verification doesn't make a bad deal a good deal," said Jafarzadeh, adding that "verification is a guarantee for something you agree with," when, in fact, the United States hasn't gotten agreement from Iran on anything.
"The administration hasn't talked about weaponization, they haven't talked about the missile program of Iran, they haven't talked about answering all the unanswered questions," he said.
He noted that even the International Atomic Energy Agency, tasked with inspections, is "complaining" and "basically saying that 'we're fed up with this.'"
Jafarzadeh also pointed to a Senate hearing on Tuesday in which he said lawmakers and witnesses agreed that "unless something is done by Congress to stop the trend of concessions, to have some kind of an oversight, we're heading to a disaster."
Jafarzadeh also discussed the Obama administration's surprise announcement on Wednesday that it will re-establish diplomatic relations with Cuba after more than 50 years.
Although Cuba and Iran are allies with increasingly close ties, he said he doubted that Iran would feel pressured by Obama's overture to Cuba.
"As far as the [Iranian] regime is concerned, that's a sign of weakness," said Jafarzadeh.
"They feel that America is not only reaching out to the regime itself and being soft on them, but they are also reaching out to the allies of the Iranian regime, and that's not the kind of signal you want to send to a regime like Iran."
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