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Hardliners Seek Peace with the Green Movement

by MUHAMMAD SAHIMI in Los Angeles

24 Aug 2010 16:2771 Comments

Strains on and within regime prompt gestures at reconciliation.

image-oil-barrels.jpg[ analysis ] The first several months after Iran's rigged presidential election in June 2009 saw a climate of oppression exceptional even by the standards of the Islamic Republic. Peaceful demonstrations of millions of people were confronted by violence, resulting in the death of at least 110. Four were killed in the macabre Kahrizak detention center on the southern edge of Tehran, where narcotic traffickers are usually held. At least two prominent supporters of the Green Movement were assassinated. One was Professor Masoud Ali-Mohammadi of the University of Tehran, who was murdered not only for his support of the movement, but probably also due to his knowledge of Iran's nuclear program.

The second victim was Ali Mousavi, Mir Hossein Mousavi's nephew. In addition, Dr. Ramin Pourandarjani, 26, a staff physician at Kahrizak, mysteriously passed away. It is widely believed that he was murdered due to his knowledge of what had been going on in the center. At least eight people, including four Kurdish activists, were executed.

Thousands were detained, and at least 800 of them are still in jail. Those arrested include university students and professors, journalists, human rights defenders, attorneys for the detainees, and ordinary people. Practically every important Reformist figure was arrested, served with warrants dated several days before the election. After Stalinist-style show trials, most were given long jail sentences. Some were released on bail, the sum of which came to millions of dollars. The condition for remaining out of jail was total silence; when they refused to stop criticizing the election coup and its perpetrators, they were reimprisoned. At least 40 journalists have been forced to leave Iran and go into exile.

The leaders of the Green Movement -- Mousavi and his wife, Dr. Zahra Rahnavard, Mehdi Karroubi, Mohammad Khatami, and others -- were accused of being foreign agents, and of receiving huge sums of money to spend against the Islamic Republic. There were repeated threats that they would be arrested, given long jail sentences, even killed. The movement was labeled fetneh (sedition) by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. Those not supporting the Supreme Leader -- a majority even within the conservative camp -- were tagged khavaas-e bibasirat (useless, unwise elite). The hardliners declared that they would not be satisfied if the movement's leaders "repented." They called on the judiciary to put them on trial, and some even declared them mohareb (enemies of God), for whom the only proper punishment is death.

These are just some of the many dark events that occurred in the aftermath of the rigged election. Khamenei declared that what occurred had tarnished the reputation of the country. What had really happened was that what remained of his own reputation had been ruined, due to his unequivocal support of what the hardliners had done to the nation. In fact, Iran's reputation as a nation of young, educated, dynamic people who are struggling for a better, more open society has been restored.

Nothing that the hardliners have done has worked. The opposition leaders have stood firm. Each accusation and threat by Khamenei and his supporters has received a quick, balanced response from the leaders of the Green Movement. They have insisted that the election was rigged and the rights of the citizens violated. They have declared that they will not retreat from their demands. They have repeatedly asserted that they are ready to lose their lives for their cause. The fact that they were part of the political elite, that they broke ranks with Khamenei and his supporters to side with the people, has only deepened the crisis that the nation has faced since June 2009. The movement has had too many achievements to go away, or be ignored.

At the same time, the hardliners are under tremendous international pressure. In addition to their loss of any legitimacy in light of the election and its aftermath, other developments have ratcheted up the stresses on them. First, the construction of a secret facility for uranium enrichment in Fordow near Qom was revealed. Although Iran probably did not violate its obligations under the Safeguards Agreement it signed with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the revelation added to the international community's suspicions about the nature of the Iranian nuclear program. Next, on October 1, 2009, an agreement was reached in Vienna whereby Iran was supposed to send a little over half of its stockpile of low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Russia and France in return for fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, a medical nuclear facility that provides isotopes for 850,000 Iranian patients. When the agreement was taken to Tehran, however, it met with fierce opposition, even from the leaders of the Green Movement. The Ahmadinejad administration was forced to backtrack, which played into the hands of the United States and its allies and helped them to push through U.N. Security Council Resolution 1929, imposing a new round of sanctions.

Just before the resolution was approved, Iran, Brazil, and Turkey agreed to a deal arranging for a swap of some of Iran's LEU for fuel for the research reactor. But the United States was determined to pass a new sanction resolution and thus brushed aside, even criticized, a deal that amounted to capitulation by Ahmadinejad and his supporters.

Since then the United States and its European allies have imposed their own set of sanctions, and their efforts to tighten the noose have continued unabated.

Despite repeated claims by the Tehran hardliners that the sanctions are not important and "cannot do a thing," they are deeply worried. The hardliners are keenly aware that, more anything else, the sanctions hurt the common people, exacerbating popular anger. The hardliners' own financial empire is under increasing stress, as well. Khatam ol-Anbiya, the engineering arm of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, recently canceled its contract to develop phases 15 and 16 of the giant South Pars natural gas field in the Persian Gulf, specifically citing the sanctions as the cause.

Israel and its neoconservative allies meanwhile beat the drum of war with Iran ever louder. The Atlantic recently published an article by Jeffrey Goldberg on how the military and political elite of Israel think that an attack on Iran may become inevitable. The piece contributed to a new round of heated discussions on the wisdom of engaging in yet another war in the Middle East. Experts ranging from Trita Parsi to Glenn Greenwald of Salon and many others have weighed in. The Atlantic itself held a panel discussion on Goldberg's article that included several pundits.

So "suddenly," the hardliners are discovering that they want peace with the Green Movement and its leaders. The phenomenon is not totally new. Several months ago, Ahmad Khatami (no relation to the former president), a leading hardline cleric and one of the four leaders of Tehran's Friday Prayers, fairly pleaded with the movement. Referring to the next presidential election, he said, "At least do not keep protesting for the next four years." Leading the capital's Friday Prayers on July 17, 2009, the last time he has done so, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani called in his sermon for national reconciliation. Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi, a moderate conservative, also said that ways should be found to achieve national reconciliation.

Former prime minister and highly influential conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Reza Mahdavi Kani attempted last year to reach out to the clerics that support the Green Movement, asking the hardliners to follow what Emam Hassan -- the Shiites' Second Imam and a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad -- did when he agreed to peace with his enemies. The hardliners reacted very negatively, perhaps because they still could not understand the depth of the crisis. Kayhan, the hardliners' mouthpiece, warned, "When the sword of justice is approaching the pillar of the tent of the enemies and seditious, we should not do anything to have the righteous word of union be on the bayonet." Major General Mohammad Ali (Aziz) Jafari, top commander of the Revolutionary Guards, has always opposed any rapprochement with the Green Movement.

Given the current state of the nation, the idea of a rapprochement with the Greens has been revived. Meeting last week with high officials, Khamenei said, "Putting out the fire that has been set in the society, and bringing back those who for whatever reason have left the pious brothers [his supporters], is one of our most important duties. The criterion for doing so is values and principles. We should recognize that the degree of belief is different in the people, and we should try, through guidance and advice, to bring back those who were part of the system, but due to their mistakes have been set aside." A few days later, on August 18, meeting with academics who are members of the Basij militia, he emphasized, "It is essential for the nation to be unified."

Following the ayatollah's speeches, 249 Majles deputies -- almost all of the parliament aside from its Reformist wing -- issued a statement supporting him, and asking for vahdat-e ommat (union of the masses). The most important aspect of the statement was the recognition of the effect of the sanctions and the threat of war. For example, Mohammad Hossein Farhangi, a member of the Majles leadership, said, "Given that the enemies of the people and the nezaam [political system] will do their best to harm them, it is imperative that a united front becomes the top priority of the officials, and those who committed mistakes correct them and come back."

On Saturday, August 21, Reza Akrami, a spokesman for the Society of Combatant Clerics (SCC) of Tehran, the leading right-wing clerical group, said that that the SCC wants mediation between the ruling establishment and the opposition. He said that he had made the same suggestion last year to Majles Speaker Ali Larijani, Mahdavi Kani, and former Majles Speaker Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a relatively moderate cleric, but that they had turned him down. Another leading member of the SCC, Majles deputy Gholamreza Mesbahi-Moghaddam, said that the mediation should not be done by the officials, but by those "whose words are influential." The opposition "must become convinced" that the reconciliation gesture is sincere, he said, "otherwise they will not return" to the ruling elite. Jafar Shajooni, a radical SCC member, attacked Akrami for speaking of mediation between the hardliners and the Green leaders. He declared that Akrami does not speak on behalf of the SCC and misunderstands what Khamenei has said.

More moderate conservatives have begun blaming the hardliners for the nation's lack of unity. Ali Motahhari, a brother-in-law of Ali Larijani, said, "This is a fault of some of the supporters of the government that want to eliminate some of the important [opposition] figures.... They should compensate for the injustice that they have done, and not interpret any criticism as enmity and insult...." There are signs that the hardliners are willing to make some concessions to the opposition leaders for the sake of appeasement.

In the first sign of concessions, the judiciary has suspended three hardline judges who were apparently responsible for the crimes that happened at the Kahrizak detention center last year. The most well-known of the three is Saeed Mortazavi, the notorious former Tehran prosecutor who earned his nickname "Butcher of the Press" for shutting down dozens of newspapers and periodicals. He is widely believed to be responsible for the death of photojournalist Dr. Zahra Kazemi, who was murdered in July 2003 while in detention. Mortazavi has also been closely linked to the torture of bloggers and young journalists. The other two suspended judges are Hassan Zare' Dehnavi, known as Haddad, a deputy to Mortazavi who has been involved in violent crackdowns on university students, their imprisonment, and torture; and Ali Akbar Heydarifar, a close associate of Haddad's who has been implicated in many crimes.

In a meeting with Basij university students on Sunday, August 22, Khamenei emphasized once again the urgency of uniting the nation. He added that the union must be "based on principles," which apparently means the principle of following and obeying him.

Some of the hardliners, by contrast, still insist on blaming every problem on the leaders of the Green Movement. They want to scuttle any possibility of reconciliation, even though there is actually no evidence that the Green Movement is prepared to back down from its demands. Morteza Nabavi, the managing editor of Resalat, the leading conservative daily and mouthpiece of the right-wing Islamic Coalition Party, said in an interview that the Green leaders could not accept their defeat in last year's election and had planned in advance for what happened after the vote. He said, "Mousavi, Karroubi, and Khatami must admit that they were wrong." But even if they do, he believes, "They are not qualified to lead any group of the people." Davood Ahmadinejad, brother of the president and a former Revolutionary Guard commander, said that the Guards are waiting for the right moment to arrest the leaders of the Green Movement.

Another split within the leadership was exposed over the matter of Hossein Mousavian, a senior member of Iran's nuclear negotiation team during the Khatami administration, whom Ahmadinejad has accused of espionage. Dr. Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, recently stated that Mousavian had committed no crime. Haydar Moslehi, the hardline minister of intelligence, responded that Salehi had erred and that his ministry considers Hossein Mousavian, who now lives in the United States, a spy.

For their part, the opposition and the Reformists appear to be more united than ever. Mousavi dismissed as superficial the apparent differences between the hardliners and conservatives over whether they should represent Islam or Iran to the rest of the world. He observed that regardless of what they represent, it is neither the true Islam nor the true Iran. Soon after, the progressive cleric Abdollah Nouri, interior minister during the Khatami administration, invited all the important figures of the opposition to his home. They all answered the call and participated in the gathering. That truly angered the hardliners, who have been claiming that there are deep fissures in the opposition.

There can be no reconciliation with the hardliners. First and foremost, the minimum demands of the movement must be achieved: (1) unconditional and immediate release of all political prisoners; (2) punishment of those who have committed horrendous crimes against the people, particularly over the last year; (3) a completely free press; (4) complete freedom for all political groups to operate and advocate their views; (5) complete freedom for peaceful gathering and peace protests; (6) impeachment and sacking of Ahmadinejad; (7) complete elimination of the Guardian Council's vetting power that allows it to disqualify candidates from any election; and (8) free and fair elections for both the Majles and a new president.

Once these goals are achieved, a national debate through the free press, the political parties, and the democratically elected Majles will start on how to revise the Constitution and eliminate its undemocratic articles. Fortunately, the leaders of the Green Movement have stood firm. There is no evidence that they will back down. The best defense for Iran against any external enemy is a political system that is accepted by a majority of the people. That will not come about unless and until the transition to democracy begins.

Copyright © 2010 Tehran Bureau

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a very good read, thank you


Alal / August 24, 2010 6:59 PM

Thank you for an excellent article clearly showing the situation as it stands. The nerve of the regime trying to reach out in this pathetic way just as they arrest another pair of student activists is unbelievable. If any of the eight minimum demands rightly mentioned by Dr Sahimi are met it will result in the hardliners losing their grip on power.
The steadfastness and bravery of Mousavi and the people around him has been very impressive. Although I disagree with him on many issues (e.g. I despise Khomeini and everything that he stood for) I have to say that I've grown to respect the man very much. The fact that someone who was a senior figure in the Islamic Republic in one of the darkest chapters in Iran's history turns out to be such a principled and honourable person makes me hopeful for Iran's future.

Cy / August 24, 2010 7:33 PM

Dear Professor Sahimi

Thank you for your article.

I hope the leaders of the Green Movement will continue to stand firm even with the drums getting louder and louder.

..and I really hope they do not wait much longer to announce their position regarding the nuclear program..I can not help to feel like they run out of time.

Best regards

Salome / August 24, 2010 8:17 PM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

Let’s assume that SL’s desire for rapprochement is genuine, not a coordinated ruse to sow confusion and disunity in the Green ranks.

Do you contemplate the hardliners standing by placidly as their political star wanes and their economic interests are threatened?

If the hardliners sense danger, they could opt to raise the stakes and preempt SL’s conciliatory manoeuvres with the vigilante-style killing, abduction or incarceration of key reformist figures, especially the big three.

How would SL react to such a terrible fait-accompli? Would he be able to decouple gracefully from the hardliners and achieve a difficult political volte-face under such polarized circumstances?

Ali from Tehran / August 24, 2010 8:26 PM

Great summary of the past year.

GooGoo / August 24, 2010 11:23 PM

Mr Sahimi,
Thank you very much for your excellent article, indicating the possible reasons for this "sudden" change of mind.
I wonder however how this chatter of 'reconciliation' fits with the fact that the two last? Reformist parties (Participation Front and Islamic Mujahedin) were banned during the past week?
Meanwhile the militarisation of public institutions is continuing unabatedly.
My second question is: how long will it take until AN and the IRGC succeed in militarising the political sphere completely?
Thanks in advance,

Arshama / August 24, 2010 11:25 PM

Thank you for these insights! I love your blog!

All the best from Berlin.


Dionysos / August 24, 2010 11:27 PM

Ali , You are assuming that the SL is not a "hard liner". Khamenei is very much involved in the arrests and killing, and torture as the "hardliners" are. All the orders are approved by him.

You are asking how the "hardliners" would react to a "hardliner" position. ............They would except it as benefical to them, as all other decisions from Khamenei have been.

muhammad billy bob / August 25, 2010 1:44 AM

Ali from Tehran:

I believe that the possibility that you raise is quite plausible. I have never been under the illusion that the hardliners actually obey Khamenei 100%. But, if the scenario that you mention does happen, then, Khamenei must decide once for all where he stands. He must decide whether he likes to remain a ceremonial SL and rubber stamp whatever the hardliners do, or that he decides to side with the people to help them move Iran toward a better future, and get the IRGC out of politics and the economy, with the hope that people can forgive him in the long run.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 25, 2010 4:09 AM

Logic suggests that some form of reconciliation and mending of fences is necessary. The differences between the two wings of the IR are not such that they are irreconcilable and Khamanei did accept the 8yr tenure of Khatami's reformist presidency. But Khatami was weak in some respects and Ahmedinejad is strong in defending Iran's rights. Release of prisoners, compensation for wrongs done etc. are all necessary but I cannot see how the results of an election which to date has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt as being fraudulent can be overturned. Ahmedinejad remains president and considering the challenged his govt has failed he has actually done rather well. Reformists will have their day again, it is only a matter of time but I do think some of the demands you state are outlandish. There is no political system which is completely free including those in advanced 'democracies' such as the US, and Iran would be too vulnerable to foreign intereference who would use too free a system to advance their interests. Yes, reform is needed but care is also needed not to throw the baby out with the bath water as some opposition would like.

rezvan / August 25, 2010 4:19 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

"...The best defense for Iran against any external enemy is a political system that is accepted by a majority of the people. That will not come about unless and until the transition to democracy begins."

Does this mean that the Iranian people will get a chance to decide whether they want ISLAMIC before the Republic? Does this democracy include the great precentage of Iranians that favor a secular Republic? What about the Monarchisys and the socialist etc. etc.

Anonymous / August 25, 2010 4:57 AM

If only one of these demands come true. People will take it as a sign of retreat by the regime. I hope Prof. Sahimi is right because this scenario will be the easiest. This regime is collapsing. Thinking that you can deal with these animals in a rational way is only a dream. Just see if this regime retreats as Prof Sahimi hopes to see, people will tear this stooges to the pieces. No Mullah or Basiji or Pasdar will dare to walk on the street.

But none of these will happen because this regime will take it to the bitter end!

shahin / August 25, 2010 4:57 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

Could the younger generation continue their current level of activism and hope to slowly build support for some point in the future, or is there not enough time? As long as the first group of Iranians (as described in your previous article) remain optimistic and united, they should feel good knowing that the more the government has to plan for them and repudiate their actions, the more political clout they obtain.

It seems (from an outsider's perspective) that the government should try to appease the activists and use the country's reputation as "young, educated, dynamic people" to their advantage instead of dealing with it as a problem. Of course, that would most likely mean giving up some power and giving activists more hope... but I think if they have the right plan, it could work.

A Viscous Flow Student / August 25, 2010 5:43 AM

Ali, I don't see that scenario as being anywhere likely. A status quo has emerged, not unlike that which existed before the election, whereby the hard right uses the sides exhibiting more liberal political tendencies as a punch bag, of sorts.

But the SL hasn't deviated significantly, and the relevant, in-power political elites are now more established, in this status quo environment.

Look forward to a lot more of the same in the foreseeable future, with continued national boosts here and there, such as the operational startups of the Bushehr nuclear plant, and perhaps mini-breakthroughs such as 2010 Tehran Declaration. There are more startups and talks planned for Sept/Oct, and these sorts of things will garner considerable public attention, during this extended political status quo environment, particularly if the outcomes are in any way successful.

Pirouz / August 25, 2010 7:49 AM


As I have discussed in the past, the hardliners/conservatives are not unified. There are deep fissures within their ranks, which explains their contradictory actions.

GooGoo, Salome, Alal, and Dionysos:

Thank you.


I am for a secular republic. The path to it will be long, but we will get there. As for a return to monarchy, I do not believe it has any significant support both within and without Iran.


Your point is well taken. But, let's hope cooler heads will prevail.

My student:

Wise men will do what you suggest. But the ruling elite is not of that type.

Next time leave your first name and say "from the VF class," so that I would know who you are.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 25, 2010 8:46 AM

Dear Teacher:

Thank you again.
I anticipate that your next article will discus the roles of Majles (if any!), and its negative, positive or null contribution to a breathing green movement.

HD / August 25, 2010 6:57 PM


Some points in relation to the nuclear issue.

The draft "fuel swap" agreement by Russia, France and the US in October 2009 included about 3/4 of the low enriched uranium supposedly possessed by Iran at that date (2,600 pounds out of an estimated 3,500 pounds), not "a little over half" as suggested in your article.

The May 2010 agreement with Turkey and Brazil differed from this earlier proposal in that it didn't take account of the stocks of low enriched uranium produced by Iran since the previous October: *this* deal included "a little over half" of the then-current stock (2,600 pounds out of an estimated 5,000 pounds).

However, the May 2010 agreement wasn't a "fuel swap" deal at all: Iran's low enriched uranium deposited in Turkey was to remain "the property of Iran", so Iran could have regained its deposited uranium *in addition to* the highly enriched uranium which it would also have received under the agreement. In other words, Iran would actually just be buying enriched uranium – not swapping it – a position previously rejected by the Vienna Group (US, Russia, France), and hence a moving of the goalposts.

This later agreement also didn't involve cessation of uranium enrichment in Iran – a key IAEA demand.

I would therefore not agree with the suggestion that the May 2010 proposal was rejected because "the United States was determined to pass a new sanction resolution"; rather, it seems that both sides failed to reach common ground.

Ian / August 26, 2010 12:36 AM


I know we've had our differences, but can you please address the author of this article with a title that demonstrates a little more respect?

Dr. Sahimi, Mr. Sahimi, Professor Sahimi, anyone of these will do.

This piece of advice will take you far, especially if you plan on pursuing this fetish you have with this country many of us call home.

Please don't be mad for this advice. I just don't want to log on to Tehran Bureau one day soon and see you referring to Professor Sahimi as Moe.


B / August 26, 2010 3:17 AM

Dr. Sahimi:

Thank you as always for your informative article. Even if the Greens reconcile I am really worried about the IRGC. I am afraid of a complete IRGC takeover and Iran becoming another Pakistan. I hear (even from Aziz Jafari himself) that the IRGC has Green supporters within. What percentage of the IRGC do you think is Green? How about the Army what is their makeup?


Ali / August 26, 2010 5:29 AM

Both Karroubi and Mousavi can not be trusted. They were involved in mass murder of 1367. Why don't they talk about their involvements?
They knew the mass executions was wrong and still kept quite.

gooya / August 26, 2010 6:32 AM


Looking over my previous comments elsewhere on this site, I see that I've addressed Dr. Sahimi consistently as "Muhammad", and referred to him in conversation with others as "Dr. Sahimi" and "Prof. Sahimi". He hasn't expressed any objection to my addressing him as "Muhammad", but I'm happy to use whatever title he prefers. I would, however, rather hear it from him.

Ian / August 26, 2010 6:51 AM

Really a thought-provoking, well-researched post. Suspension of Mortazavi strikes me as significant; the highest-level member of their own camp that the hardliners are sacrificing. Of course not to be confused with a remotely adequate response to the regime's crimes, but still a manifestation as you say of deepening contradictions among hardliners. The true value of Mousavi is his ability to exploit these contradictions as someone respected by both the majority of the people and a non-trivial segment of the ruling elite.

Martin Weil / August 26, 2010 6:52 AM

Ian, there you go again!

Read the text of the proposals and show us where is the documented basis of your interpretations!

Based on the text, there are five difference:

-- Simultaneous exchange instead of processing Iran’s deposited LEU
-- Guarantee for the return of LEU if the deal doesn’t materialize
-- Exchange in Turkey instead of Russia
-- 1 year time limit for exchange and delivery
-- Recognizing Iran’s right to enrich

Where in the original proposal does it specify the amount of transfer as a fraction or percentage of the enriched uranium Iran has?

Which part of the original proposal had cessation of enrichment?

And, since you have elevated the original proposal to the status of an agreement, please tell us where did you see Iran's signature on the original proposal?

As a legal scholar with background in history you should know that an international agreement is an "agreement" because all parties to the proposal have "agreed".

Please continue to post - you are more informative than you think.

jay / August 26, 2010 8:19 AM

Dear Dr. Sahimi,

Hopefully you will not dignify this supercilious troll Ian with a reply to his latest mind-bender.

He does not deserve to be engaged in serious discussion. Discerning TB readers will easily pick out his falsehoods on differences between the October 2009 and May 2010 nuclear fuel swap agreements.

Please ignore him, no matter how provocative and noxious he gets. Unlike you, his craven anonymity shields him from accountability - both personal and professional - for what he posts.

Yes, his intentions are sinister, but the banally middlebrow way he tries to manipulate us - with a blathering mix of disinfo, fearmongering, casuistry and cajolery – has value as spectacle.

In case you haven’t been following his long-winded neo-colonial polemics of late, I’ve extracted some highly-enriched whoppers for your enjoyment:

"... I’m in favour of a very selective attack on key nuclear sites ..."

"The argument against an attack on the grounds that it would hurt the Greens is typical propaganda of this [Western-leftist] kind, designed solely to prevent an [Western] attack [on Iran] because it would not be in Moscow’s interest."

"At this stage, it seems as though the Iranian people have a choice between the Tehran-Moscow-Beijing nexus ... or a secular and democratic Western-leaning Tehran. Unfortunately, most Greens actually seem to hate the idea of Western interference ..."

"I am “acutely interested” in Iranian politics because I am a freedom-loving Westerner who wants Iranians to be free of tyranny. Everything else is just a means to that end ..."
(Ian, Aug 19 @ 11:11 PM)

"I wasn’t talking about any sort of invasion of Iran, but about finding a way for the Green movement to utilize limited military action [by the West] to its advantage by blaming it on the hardliners."

"So if the Greens don’t want to covertly support an [Western] attack [on Iran] for fear of being labelled traitors, then I hope at least they will remain neutral ... or (like I said) the Greens will find themselves isolated everywhere."

"I would like Iranians to get on with us Britishers more, and learn to trust us a bit better."
(Ian, Aug 22 @ 9:25 PM)


"... I'm broadly in support of the project [of destroying the Dome of the Rock in order to rebuild the Jewish Temple and find the sacred red heifer]. My view is that they [Jews] have the prior claim and that the site is more important to them than it is to Muslims, so in the interests of long-term peace it should be allowed to go ahead. ... [O]ne has to be careful about trying to argue too many technicalities if and when the Jewish people eventually decide to act by building on the site. "
(Ian, Aug 7, 12:15 AM)


Ali from Tehran / August 26, 2010 8:52 AM

Ali from Tehran

well done as usual..is good to have you among us...

why don't you stop posting and getting involved in something that is NOT of your concern, if interested in knowing Iranians, just read and learn

don't you see you're just humiliating yourself??

Alal / August 26, 2010 7:00 PM

Ali from Tehran:

Absolutely not. I will not. The man has an agenda, if not an outright agent of some sort, coming here to influence people with the agenda. Every time a website becomes popular with Iranian people, suddenly some "interested Westerners" show up!

Thanks for summarizing. Honestly, I had not noticed some of them. The man has so much nerves that comes to a website for Iranians and tells the reader that he favors attacking Iran.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 26, 2010 7:06 PM

Muhammad Sahimi,

What makes you think this is "a website for Iranians"? This is a website by a U.S. tv network, written in English. It seems pretty open to westerners who are intrested in Iran.

If you do not like someone's opinions, argue the opinion. Don't argue that they shouldn't speak. That's the first sign that your own opinion is not strong enough to hold up against criticism.

muhammad billy bob / August 26, 2010 9:41 PM

The only other person to address Professor Sahimi as Muhammad is Pirouz. Funny that.

Pak / August 26, 2010 10:34 PM

Moe Will Rob:

You are right there next to Ian with your inane comments, apologist stance, your insincerity, and not least of all, your outright ignorance on almost all topics discussed here.

Engaging Ian, and you I might add, is like engaging a Tea Bagger over health care, or Obama's religion, or Obama's birth certificate. It's a complete waste of time.

And here is a piece of advice for you, if you want anyone to take you remotely seriously, consider changing your name: cracker bob, red neck bob, neocon bob, any one of these will do.

B / August 26, 2010 10:47 PM


Maybe I don't want to be taken seriously.

What is extremely funny is how people jump to conclusions based on a name.For example I am pretty far away from any of the "cracker,red neck,neocon" remarks of yours. I am a rather urbane (I think) Native-American with political allegence to the Libertarian party of the U.S.

Check you assumptions. They are probably incorrect.

muhammad billy bob / August 27, 2010 12:45 AM


Nothing in the May 2010 agreement suggests the LEU was to be "exchanged" for highly enriched uranium:

As you will see, the agreement is deliberately vague, saying merely that Iran was to deposit some LEU in Turkey till they received fuel rods from a different source. Since the LEU deposited in Turkey was to remain the property of Iran, they could then have demanded the return of the LEU _in addition to_ the fuel rods. In this respect it differs from the October 2009 Vienna Group draft agreement, which does not appear to have been published by the IAEA, and so I rely on secondary sources:


The plan is widely reported to have been that Iran's LEU would be sent to Russia for enrichment and then to France for manufacture into fuel rods, before the final product was to be returned to Iran:

In other words, this is a completely different arrangement: one is a genuine fuel swap, the other is effectively a simple purchase of fuel rods.

As you also point out, the May 2010 agreement specifically affirmed Iran's right to continue enrichment; something which the IAEA has demanded that Iran cease from doing and which was part of the rationale for sanctions. In contrast, the October 2009 draft agreement was intended to provide the framework for further talks aimed at a cessation of enrichment in Iran (the whole "fuel swap" thing was meant to dispose of Iran's stocks of LEU and give them fuel rods in return, so they wouldn't need to enrich themselves). These two proposals therefore head in totally different directions, something misrepresented by Dr. Sahimi, who simply blamed the USA for not agreeing to it, even though it contradicts repeated UNSC resolutions and IAEA demands.

The figures I have given for the proportion of Iran's stock of LEU that would be covered by the deal rely on estimates that were widely reported at the time, and I made it perfectly clear in my previous comment that these are *estimates*, because Iran is very cagey about the amount it has. Feel free to dispute those estimates (I don't think they were disputed by Iran at the time), but my point is that Dr. Sahimi seems to have made an error there, and it is for him to justify his statements if he can. The fact that the LEU produced in Iran since October 2009 was not taken into account in the May 2010 agreement was another important factor at the time.

You go on to accuse me of "elevat[ing] the original proposal to the status of an agreement", but if you had actually *read* what I said, you would have seen that I only referred to it as a "draft 'fuel swap' agreement". The word "draft" is important, is it not? At the same time, I referred several times to the May 2010 agreement as an "agreement", because it *was* agreed by Tehran. I was absolutely correct, as in every other point I made.


> Absolutely not. I will not [respond]. The man has an agenda, if not an outright agent of some sort, coming here to influence people with the agenda.
> [...] The man has so much nerves that comes to a website for Iranians and tells the reader that he favors attacking Iran.
If you won't address my criticisms, as you signally failed to do in the previous discussion:
where on August 11, 2010 1:05 AM I raised a number of factual issues including a "serious breach of journalistic ethics" in respect of your presentation of IAEA findings (you basically ignore everything after Feb 2008 so as to say that Iran is compliant with the IAEA), then I can only conclude that you are not capable of responding. This is actually pretty embarrassing for someone who has written for the Huffington Post, the New York Times and others, so I'm not surprised you practically accuse me of being one of those "deceitful, belligerent spies who are enemies to the people of Iran". If I were *actually* a belligerent spy I might have (e.g.) asked HuffPo to make a correction on that shoddy article you did for them recently, but I think that you probably have good intentions and are simply misled (I don't suffer the kind of paranoia that seems to stalk these discussions). So once again, my criticism of the above article which we're now discussing is a *factual* one (albeit of less signifance than our previous disagreements), and I would therefore suggest that you attempt a factual reply.

Ian / August 27, 2010 12:49 AM

Dear B,

I prefer the moniker “Pentagon Bob” for our gun-toting Appalachian idiot savant. I coined it for him in reaction to his repulsive comments on the TehranBureau article commemorating the destruction of IranAir Flight 655.

My favourite of Pentagon Bob’s ruminations is this flawless, polished gem:

"Does the Iranian government have the same policies as it did 150 years ago? Oh yeah, Iran didn't have an idependent [sic] government 150 years ago, as it was a part of the Ottoman Empire."
(Muhammad Billy Bob, responding to Rezvan, May 2 @ 3:51 PM)


No wonder he considers Ian a kindred spirit.

Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 1:33 AM

Dear Ian,

You continue to hound Dr. Sahimi on this website, apparently still laboring under the illusion that the good professor is compelled to satisfy the whims of any anonymous CampusWatch freak or hasbara provocateur who develops a fetish for challenging him.

May I suggest a less subterranean approach:

Compose your own piece and submit it to TehranBureau.

Given your solid academic credentials and the vast scope of your learning and research, I'm sure the moderator would be pleased to publish it. And considering your established bent for verbosity and digression, it could even be serialized.

All the more fun for us: YOU will become a de facto "journalist" and WE will have the pleasure of assaying your "journalistic ethics."

Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 2:01 AM

Dr Sahimi,
Thank you very much for this enlightning article. More than a year after the crackdown, some "moderate harliners" (what an oxymoron!), are begining to realize the extend of the damage that has been done, not only to the system and the society, but also to themselves personally. Blood was spilled, huge suffering was inflicted and there is nothing that can wash it away, except a total and true repentance.

gloumdalclitch / August 27, 2010 2:18 AM

MB Bob is a Native American?

Well, you're talking to someone who is part Iranian, part Native American (no foolin')

So, what is your tribal affiliation? Where exactly is the geographic location of your family's NA community?

Your views regarding Islam surprise me, coming from a Native American, as we have a very long history of religious persecution in the US, right up to the present day (Peyote ritual). Doesn't your family have any stories of this? (My great grandmother was a healer)

I have to say, since as far back as the Hostage crisis, the Native American part of my family has been very understanding towards the prejudice I've endure for being part Iranian. This is true even though on this part of the family, we have fought in every US war since at least as far back as WWI and have no less than 3 Purple Hearts in the family.

So yes, I find your comments quite extraordinary for one of our people. Looking forward to hearing about your affiliation information and family references.

Pirouz / August 27, 2010 2:40 AM

Pentagon Bob,

With a name like Billy Bob I had no choice to but to make assumptions about your ethnicity. In all fairness, you brought upon yourself with that ridiculous name.

Dear Ali from Tehran,

Pentagon Bob is a much better name. Thank you.

And I am still laughing about the Ottoman line - with an intellect like this I'm certain he will find a well paying position within the GOP.


As neoconservative I'm certain you are against any form of governmental health care plan. But I can assure some of the kind hearted readers of Tehran Bureau are willing to chip in for you to seek some much needed psychiatric treatment. Of course, the goal would not be to demonstrate our magnanimity, but we (can I speak for all of us just once?) are quite tired of your drivel.

I suggest you take Ali from Tehran's advice and submit your own article to Tehran Bureau instead of incessantly spamming the comments section with insults and nonsense. If the editorial staff deems your article not worthy of publishing, might I suggest the Jerusalem Post? Even better, perhaps a guest appearance on Fox News' morning program "Fox and Friends" - they'll let any lunatic sit in on that program, psychiatrically treated or otherwise.

Dr. Sahimi

It seems I've gotten so caught up battling the "bomb Iran" parasites on Tehran Bureau comments section I have not had time to congratulate you on another well written article.
The "bomb Iran" crowd brings out the worst in me, particularly when disguised under the veil of "I only want to bring Iranians democracy."

B / August 27, 2010 3:36 AM


Talk about making incorrect assumptions. Yours are usually way off base. (that's a baseball term I'm sure you're familiar with).
As I've said before, I've never been to the pentagon, but I do own several guns. But I just like to shoot them. I've only been hunting once, and really felt bad when I killed that little squirrell and had to bash his head with a log to finish him off. But he was eaten,my freinds grandmother made squirrell soup.

You too should check your assumptions. What exactly was repulsive about my comments on IranAir flight 655? That it was an accident? Is that repulsive? Go ahead cut and paste something that was so repulsive.

muhammad billy bob / August 27, 2010 3:36 AM

“this supercilious troll Ian [...] He does not deserve to be engaged [...] Please ignore him, no matter how provocative and noxious he gets [...] his craven anonymity [...] his intentions are sinister [...] a blathering mix of disinfo, fearmongering, casuistry and cajolery [...] his long-winded neo-colonial polemics [...] anonymous CampusWatch freak or hasbara provocateur [...] established bent for verbosity and digression”
– Ali from Tehran

“why don’t you stop posting [...] you’re just humiliating yourself”
– Alal

“inane comments [...] insincerity [...] outright ignorance”
“Engaging Ian [...] is like engaging a Tea Bagger [sic!] over health care [...] It’s a complete waste of time.”
“neoconservative [...] seek some much needed psychiatric treatment [...] tired of your drivel [...] incessantly spamming the comments section with insults [sic] and nonsense”
“might I suggest [...] ‘Fox and Friends’ - they’ll let any lunatic sit in on that program, psychiatrically treated or otherwise.”
– B

The trouble is, this sounds just like an Iranian diplomatic communiqué. Why should anyone care?

Ian / August 27, 2010 5:02 AM


And "strategic strikes" to "bring democracy" to Iran, sounds just like an American/Israeli neocon "diplomatic communique."

Keep up your warmongering and we'll keep responding.


B / August 27, 2010 7:20 AM


There you go again!

You made claims, I asked you to prove your claims based on the original source material. Simple! You came back with references to news sources that you did not bother to read - and some not relevant to your main charge in the original post.

You were probably thinking that you could use your legal skills and just bury the readers in the mass of your references. If you would have bothered to read you would have seen that "exchange" of fuel is referred to in paragraphs 3,4, and 6 of the Tehran Declaration. This charge that the Iranians were not proposing an exchange in the May Tehran Declaration is one that has been leveled by a very, let's call it "special", community.

If you want to be precise with words then there was no such thing as "The draft "fuel swap" agreement by Russia, France and the USA..." as you have referred to it. A draft for agreement was proposed by El Baradei to the P5+1 and Iran to be negotiated. Again, if you would have bothered to read your own references you would have read this too. And then, there was never an agreement because agreement would have meant that all parties have agreed. You conveniently forget to mention that the draft agreement was proposed by El Baradei - a third party - thereby enabling a subtle obfuscation.

There was also no agreement in May. Again, it was called the Tehran declaration. There was no agreement - parties to the declaration did not agree. (Have you read Animal Farm?)

I know it is more convenient to your arguments if you could use your own momentary and malleable definitions so that you can construct arguments upon them. And, that may work for you when you are preaching to the converted. For the most part, it won't work here. Although I must say that this forum is good training ground for you to sharpen your arguments and become more subtle!

Ian, with your intellectual prowess and your deft Google search skills the task of analyzing the source material and proving your assertions using established meanings for words should be a simple homework assignment. In fact, you could publish it as a full length article right here.

Good luck!

Jay / August 27, 2010 8:34 AM

I've said it once, but you haven't got it yet? hey?

in a negotiation if you don't look for a win/win solution, that negotiation is doomed to fail

that's what we call the western ignorance, why should anyone care about your one sided UNSC resolutions and double standard IAEA requirements?

Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano head of IAEA, was in Israel to push them for NPT...read the news to see the out come for yourself

psycho bob

when shooting the ""squirrel"" - with one L- did you use M16 or just a shotgun? was anything left of it, to make soup?? awwww how pathetic

Alal / August 27, 2010 12:39 PM

“On the other hand, Ahmadinejad and the Hojattieh ... [seem] quite happy to talk about their plans publicly: specifically, their wish to kill all the Jews.”

(Ian, protecting the Jews from a second Shoah and most certainly not being paranoid, Aug 1 @ 1:06 AM)


“Iran seems to want to play with fire without understanding that we're talking about *the survival of humanity*.”

(Ian, valiantly protecting humanity from extinction and definitely not being paranoid, Aug 24 @ 1:13 AM)


“I don't suffer the kind of paranoia that seems to stalk these discussions.”

(Ian, correctly psychoanalyzing himself on this thread, Aug 27 @ 12:49 AM)

Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 2:25 PM

"The trouble is, this sounds just like an Iranian diplomatic communiqué. Why should anyone care?"

(Ian, finding eerie similarities between the output of the Iranian ministry of Foreign Affairs and the writings of Alal, B and Ali from Tehran, Aug 27 @ 5:02 AM)

My response:

Trouble is, Ian, you sound like the lovechild of Omri Ceren and Sohrab Ahmari. Why should anyone care?

Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 2:59 PM

in a negotiation process, if you don't look for a win/win solution, that negotiation is doomed to fail

why should anyone care about your one sided UNSC resolutions and double standard IAEA requirements?

Japanese diplomat Yukiya Amano head of IAEA, was in Israel to push them for NPT...but unfortunately was ignored by Isralei leaders..

Alal / August 27, 2010 3:51 PM


Please, please post your comments ONLY ONCE. I spend so much time weeding out your identical posts. I already have enough spammers to deal with.

moderator / August 27, 2010 5:40 PM


I was using a 12 guage shotgun. With bird shot. So, yes there was plenty of meat available. I didn't eat it, though. Didn't sound too palitable.

muhammad billy bob / August 27, 2010 6:26 PM

Dear Jay @ 8:34 AM,

Kudos for your masterly debunking of the latest bout of 'Ianspeak'.

But as you rightly point out, in facing down a cynical propagandist with rational, incisive counter-argument, you may serve as the whetstone on which he hones his talent for subterfuge.

Seriously, Jay, why can't we all just set aside our silly Moscow-inspired* aversion to Western bombs and learn to trust the British a bit more**? The White Man's Burden gets so very burdensome when the foolish natives play hard to get!

As an insight into British culture, I can tell you on excellent authority [ie., Ian says] that Britons consider Truth far more important than lies***.

TB Forum References

* Ian, Aug 19 @ 11:11 PM
** Ian, Aug 24 @ 01:13 AM
*** Ian, Aug 23 @ 07:28 PM

Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 7:23 PM


Take a look at the following installation and tell me if U.S. should bomb it. The U.S. administration at the time was clearly deceived and with the passage of time following administrations chose to look the other way. Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Dimona, fled to the United Kingdom and revealed to the media evidence of Israel's nuclear program and its purpose. He spent 18 years in prison for it and will have to spend the rest of his life under strict communication and movement restrictions in Israel. Explain to me the double standards with regard to Iran. And take this message back to Israel with you. As far as Iranians are concerned,
לעולם לא עוד




Niloofar / August 27, 2010 7:48 PM


Take a look at the following installation and tell me if U.S. should bomb it. The U.S. administration at the time was clearly deceived and with the passage of time following administrations chose to look the other way. Mordechai Vanunu, a former technician at Dimona, fled to the United Kingdom and revealed to the media evidence of Israel's nuclear program and its purpose. He spent 18 years in prison for it and will have to spend the rest of his life under strict communication and movement restrictions in Israel. Explain to me the double standards with regard to Iran. And take this message back to Israel with you. As far as Iranians are concerned,
לעולם לא עוד




Niloofar / August 27, 2010 8:09 PM


I am of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation. The location of our tribe is the central Applalachian mountains of North Carolina. My ancestors were the few that were able to escape the forced removal by the U.S. government in the 1800's to Oklahoma. I do not live on the Qualla reservation, just outside of it.

I do not think you have really been reading my comments. If you have been, You'd know that I do not believe in persectuting any religion. I do, however, believe that no religion should persecute others.

muhammad billy bob / August 27, 2010 8:30 PM


> You made claims, I asked you to prove your claims based on the original source material.
And I have done so, and provided the text of the May 2010 agreement as reported in the Guardian and pointed out that the October 2009 draft agreement hadn't been published by the IAEA (what do you expect me to do? go to Vienna to find it in their library?) so referred you to media coverage of it, which is perfectly reasonable under the circumstances. I really have no idea what point you're trying to make here.

> "exchange" of fuel is referred to in paragraphs 3,4, and 6 of the Tehran Declaration
Drawing attention to the use of the word "exchange" is an example of the sort of sophistry that you accuse me of. If you read the document, you'll see there is no "exchange" at all – merely a "deposit" of LEU in Turkey, and a receipt of fuel rods. You have repeatedly failed to address this central point: that the LEU was to remain the "property of Iran". Citing the use of the word "exchange" and accusing me of being "special" is hardly a good argument, though it obviously beats other people's "criticisms" of my remarks hands-down.

> If you want to be precise with words then there was no such thing as "The draft 'fuel swap' agreement by Russia, France and the USA..." as you have referred to it. A draft for agreement was proposed
Seriously, dude, WHO CARES whether it was a "draft for agreement" or a "draft agreement"? And you do know it was *agreed* by the Vienna Group (if not by Tehran), don't you?

> You conveniently forget to mention that the draft agreement was proposed by El Baradei - a third party - thereby enabling a subtle obfuscation.
How is it "convenient" or a "subtle obfuscation" not to have mentioned El Baradei? What possible difference could it make to what I've said?

> There was also no agreement in May. Again, it was called the Tehran declaration. There was no agreement - parties to the declaration did not agree.
So you want to call it a "declaration" rather than an "agreement". How is this a useful distinction? Contrary to your bizarre observation, it was *obviously* agreed by the parties to the declaration – Turkey, Brazil and Iran – so it's clearly some sort of "agreement". Your criticism of my choice of words is not only specious but (frankly) ridiculous.

> I know it is more convenient to your arguments if you could use your own momentary
> and malleable definitions so that you can construct arguments upon them.
None of my arguments depend upon these questions of nomenclature, which in any case you have failed to pick apart. By focussing on these irrelevant points you are implicitly admitting that you can't dispute the serious points I made in my criticism of Dr. Sahimi's article; but I suppose you'd rather bite your own tongue off than admit that.

> you could publish [...] a full length article right here.
I would be thrilled to be given the opportunity to write an article for the venerable TB, but since TB's stock-in-trade is Iranians writing for Iranians, and since I could only write from the position of a Westerner who hasn't actually been to Iran (and is not an established journalist), I would have to question the appropriateness of such a contribution from the perspective both of TB itself but also of the TB audience. However, in my own mind (at least) I think there would be some value to writing up a few of the issues related to the propaganda coming from both sides on the nuclear issue – there have been some serious misunderstandings of international significance – and I also think I could do a fair job of showing the misperceptions, propaganda, fearmongering and outright lies that have come from the US, Israel and Iran ("Fear and Loathing in Washington and Tehran", anyone?).

However, if I were to do it properly I would want to spend at least a week at the British Library doing background research and dotting the 'i's, and I would also want to do some email interviews with English-speaking Iranians and possibly one or two Westerners. From memory, I would also need to purchase some documents from the IAEA, so all in all it would involve some considerable expenditure of time and money on my part, which I wouldn't do on a purely speculative basis, as "Ali from Tehran" and "B" have suggested. I am nevertheless open to invitations (moderator?), and I know you're all dying to rip an article by me to pieces (which would actually be a good incentive for getting my facts completely straight); but let's not hold our collective breath, eh? More likely this'll give a few people at TB a good laugh, but I'm not one to shy away from a challenge...

Ian / August 27, 2010 9:36 PM


It seems Ian is willing to write an article for TB if "invited" and given that his "considerable expenditures" are convered. I can only imagine how relieved you must be to hear of this news.


Dr. Sahimi has writes for free. Instead of questioning his facts with your links that you don't even seem to be reading yourself (thanks Alal), why don't you take a page out of his book?

Delusional does not begin to explain what sort of psychosis you are afflicted with.

B / August 27, 2010 11:39 PM


You are ill informed, you change your positions too often, and the bottom line is, you do not know what you are talking about. You are also extremely arrogant. After reading a few articles, you act like you are the top expert on the subject.

Once you told him :"That is why nobody agrees with you." How do you know that? Do you know how many times his articles on the subject have been cited? Check the internet. In your view, you represent the rest of the world.

Or, you asked him whether the Iranian government has used his article to explain its position and asked him "to clarify this." How the heck does he know that? If you are insinuating that he actually works with them, then shame on you. Have some shame, or control your impulses for making accusations.

I have followed Dr. Sahimi's writing on Iran's nuclear program for years. In my view, they are the most balanced and fair of anything I have read on the subject, because like any article that he posts here or elsewhere, he writes as a scientist, not a political commentator interested in settling some scores.

I believe he may be a bit optimistic about the intentions of Iran's leaders for the program, but he certainly does his homework on the problem when his writes, and he is extremely well-informed.

You have accused him of misleading the people. That is outrageous, not only because it is a lie, but also because you do not even know about all of his writings on the issue, as well as the rules and regulations of the NPT, the Additional Protocol, and Iran's Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA.

He has pointed out many times that the issues supposedly remaining between the IAEA and Iran are either beyond Iran's obligations towards its SGA, or fit in within the AP that Iran has not ratified, or of dubious nature. Let's look at some of the issues that you pretend are being ignored by him, but they are not.

1. The heavy water plant in Arak: A HWP is NOT covered by the SGA. It does not fall under IAEA inspection regime, unless there is a HW nuclear reactor operating. So, the IAEA demand for inspection (that Iran has allowed on several occasions) is illegal and beyond its authority.

2. HW nuclear reactor in Arak: It is under construction and will not come online before at least 2014. Iran has only a six month advanced notification to the IAEA before it introduces nuclear materials into the nuclear reactor. Therefore, Iran can legally refuse any inspection demand by the IAEA.

3. Request to talk to Iran scientists, or visit Iran's conventional arm industry: Not only this falls under the AP that Iran has not ratified and has no obligation toward, but also, given the history of assassination of Iranian scientists in its missile and nuclear program, and given the US long history of using the IAEA to spy on countries like Iran, Iraq (before it invaded it), and North Korea, the demands, if met, will be extremely dangerous.

4. The laptop documents, based on which most of your absurd claims and accusations against Dr. Sahimi are supposedly based, because you keep claiming that the IAEA has still problems with Iran. ElBaradei said explicitly that they are forged. Many experts have said the same. David Albright has taken no position, because he has said privately to many people that they are forged. In an article Dr. Sahimi strongly criticized him for his silence. See


The US has refused to make available the laptop, its original documents, or even copies of the original documents available, with the excuse that Iran will identify the people who smuggled it out of Iran. Instead, based on the forged documents it pushes the IAEA to ask Iran questions. It is like putting someone on trial without telling him what he is accused of.

The subject of the laptop and its dubious nature were discussed at great length by Dr. Sahimi as well:


As Dr. Sahimi has correctly pointed out, all one needs to do is checking the digital chain of custody of the alleged laptop. That is a standard test for any computer that reveals when every document in it has been loaded. The US has refused that also.

And, by the way, in an extremely interesting article last year, Dr. Sahimi stated that Israel is NOT afraid of Iran's nuclear program because it might attack Iran, rather that it will reverse emigration to Israel and cause it to lose its elite people


Goldberg in his recent piece for the Atlantic said exactly the same. So, the man that you keep making baseless accusations against understands the issues extremely well.

I agree with people here: You have an agenda: Propagating your warmongering statements about the necessity of war with Iran. You claim that you want to help Iranians have democracy. They did not ask you for help, nor do they need it. So, take your absurd, baseless accusations and war propaganda elsewhere, and have some shame.

George Stewart / August 27, 2010 11:46 PM

"However, if I were to do it [write an article for TB refuting Dr. Sahimi's position on the Iranian nuclear file] properly [...] it would involve some considerable expenditure of time and money on my part, which I wouldn't do on a purely speculative basis [...]. I am nevertheless open to invitations (moderator?)"
(Ian, Aug 27 @ 9:36 PM)

Ian, you have claimed on this forum that the “survival of humanity” is at stake in the Iranian nuclear issue, and presented yourself as “a freedom-loving Westerner who wants Iranians to be free.” “Everything else,” you confidently asserted, “is just a means to that end.”

Now, with humanity on the brink and 75 million Iranians writhing under the Pharaonic lash, you deem spending a week and a couple hundred pounds to properly debunk Dr. Sahimi’s insidious propaganda (on which you claim the IRI has staked its nuclear position) a “purely speculative” endeavor?

Have the courage of your high-flying convictions, Ian!

Do you think your fabled hero, Lawrence of Arabia, would sit sulking in his tent playing pocket-pool until his measly paycheck arrived from London?

Ali from Tehran / August 28, 2010 12:16 AM

Ali from Tehran,

No, I wasn't asking for payment (how could I be recompensed for spent *time*, anyway?), I merely said that I would not wish to spend my time & money preparing an article without having previously arranged something in principle with TB. You really seem intent on misinterpreting everything I say, and it's a bit sad.

I'll reply to George Stewart later.

Ian / August 28, 2010 12:31 AM


It now appears that the moderator is willing to make arrangements for you article to appear here. That is good news! I'd like to see you dot all the 'i's, etc.

As to your latest reply, you changed positions again. For your benefit, and as a summary, your initial post suggested three (main) items as basis for differences you perceived between the October and the May documents: a) different fractions of Iran's uranium, b) no exchange but just a deposit, c) cessation of enrichment. item c) was not in the October document. Item a) as stated by you was not in the October document either - only the amount of uranium for exchange was discussed. You have nothing to say on these, right?

On the last item, the differences are not about the words Ian, it is about what you interpret them to mean. You say

"so Iran could have regained its deposited uranium *in addition to* the highly enriched uranium which it would also have received under the agreement."

I, and even the White House spokesperson, seem to think that the deal in the May document meant that the "exchange" will take place once the TRR fuel is delivered. You, on the other hand, and some people like Gerecht at FDD and a few at CFR, think that exchange means "regain". This notion is consistent with your statements implying that a "declaration" is "some sort of an agreement" and "draft agreement" is the same as "draft for agreement", etc.

Once again, document the basis of your three initial assertions!

Jay / August 28, 2010 1:57 AM

Ali from Tehran (or wherever you live),

Ok. I've given you ample time to for you to cut and paste the "repulsive" comments I made about IranAir 655.

I find your, and some others on this websites, responses to someone who disagrees with your opinion quite informative. Instead of debating the issue, you go immediately to attacking the person. You try to use as many derogatory ethnic, cultural labels as you can. In an effort to generate some visiral response that will reveal their "true" beliefs.

Why is it so hard for you to believe that someone can disagree with your very leftist opinions, and still not be a rightists. As you would so like. People do not fit into your convientent left-right, good-bad world. There are many spectrums of political thought. Most seem to be outside your "box".

muhammad billy bob / August 28, 2010 4:18 AM

"There are many spectrums of political thought. Most seem to be outside your box."
(Pentagon Bob, Aug 28 @ 4:18 AM)

Sorry for that, Pentagon Bob.

The Ottoman Empire marched on Tehran and broke my spectrum box.

Ali from Tehran / August 28, 2010 5:20 AM

Dr. Sahimi,

Can you provide me with the list of the individual(s) who are/is considered to be the leader(s) of the Green movement? Please forgive my confusion, but I am told there are individuals with claim to fame outside Iran too. Is this a movement with one specific leader, two leaders, a council of leaders, all of above or none of above?

According to Mr. Karroubi Iranian people are the leaders, in which case he is not a leader.

If Mr. Khatami is considered one of the leaders then his presence brings up a very sensitive issue for people like me. Please explain the following statements made by Mr. Khatami when he claims, “I believe the reform should come from within the regime (Islamic Regime)” and, “I consider the Islamic Republic to be a great achievement” as presented in the following segment,
So it would be safe to conclude Mr. Khatami has no intention of departing with the great achievement.

When I looked into Mr. Mousavi’s history I found a man in agreement with Khatami. A man devoted to the Islamic cause through the Islamic Revolution.

I refer you the Mr. Mousavi’s speech on June 20, 2009 when he states, “Did we as a people cast away some of our abilities so we were no longer able to experience that spirit-warming expanse? I have come to say that it is not so. It is not too late; our road still takes us near that enlightened space. I have come to say we can live spiritually, and at the same time live in the modern world. I have come to repeat Imam's (Khomeini’s) warnings about rigidity. I have come to say that evading the law leads in the end to dictatorship and to remind you that paying attention to people's dignity does not diminish the foundations of the regime, but strengthens them. I have come to say that the public demands honesty and integrity from those who serve them, and that many of the traps we have fallen into have arisen from lies. I have come to say that backwardness and poverty, corruption and injustice are not our destiny. I have come once more to invite you to the Islamic Revolution, as it once was, and the Islamic Republic as it should be.”
So it would be safe to conclude Mr. Mousavi too has no intention of departing with the great achievement either.

Additionally, Mr. Mousavi personally admits to the Iranian people in the following segment the level of corruption within the Islamic establishment of Iran (141 out of 192 countries) and the disastrous state of its economy (double digit inflation and unemployment).

I personally fail to see the great in this achievement and needless to say, this is only a presentation of an insignificant portion of the total damage done to Iran since 1979.

Dr. Sahimi,

Any society across the globe with an ounce of logic would laugh off this cast of characters as candidates for future political leadership based on their history, past performance and ideology.

Why would logical secularist Iranians that represent the majority in today’s Iran as the result of the dreadful experience of the past 31 years put their fate in the hands of candidates who time and time again have declared publically that they have no intention of doing away with the Islamic establishment, rather would like reform within the same Islamic frame work?

How could they guarantee the rights of other political groups such as Republicans, Monarchists, Socialists and Communists who are very active abroad and clearly should have a say in any democratic approach to a future government of Iran?

Finally, I would like to bring everyone’s attention to the following article by Tony Karon who in my view presents the current situation between Iran, Israel and U.S. in a far more realistic manner than anyone else to date.

Niloofar / August 28, 2010 11:48 AM

sorry about that, moderator, thought they're not going through :)

i suggest, you should go out and meet some Iranians, not necessarily with any political back ground, but with any random Iranian; alot live in UK; that might help you get a better insight of the Iranian culture.

I actually look forward to read your article, i see it as a point of view, but although keep the right to "judge" it, as a random Iranian... deal?

Ali from Tehran
..""No wonder he considers Ian a kindred spirit.""...
Ali from Tehran / August 27, 2010 1:33 AM

lol, that was funny

Moe Bob

..."Why is it so hard for you to believe that someone can disagree with your very leftist opinions, and still not be a rightists. As you would so like. People do not fit into your convientent left-right, good-bad world. There are many spectrums of political thought. Most seem to be outside your "box".""...

I hear you, what do you think is wrong with Iran, today?; i can't understand what your opinion is...what is my "convenient left-right, good-bad "?

Alal / August 28, 2010 3:52 PM


We have debated this before. In my view, if anyone outside Iran claims to be a leader of the GM, he/she should be laughed off. Within Iran, at this point in time, Mousavi, Dr. Rahnavard, Karroubi, and Khatami are the recognized leaders, even though they humbly say they are not, which is a strategic decision on their part because, (1) it allows them to express their opinion, choose their tactics freely, and advance their cause the way they see fit, and (2) it protects them to some extent.

You are an idealist, not pragmatic. Ideals are great because they give us a vision, but at the end of the day you must confront the facts on the ground. Referendum that you suggest as a solution cannot be one at this point in time, because no political system freely holds a referendum to get rid of itself. So, even if we are to have a referendum, there must first be huge pressure by the Movement, which is what the leaders of the Green Movement are trying to create. All have said that the Constitution will be revised once the conditions have changed in favor of people. If that comes about, the leaders have their opinion, but they will have to go along with the people want, whatever that is.

And, by the way, a lot of leftist, secular, and other groups outside Iran do support the leaders.

Thanks for Tony Karoon's article, which I had already read. It is indeed a good one.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 28, 2010 9:11 PM


What is wrong with Iran today? Primarily that the country is run by an authoritarian regime that is hostile to it's own people. This is an internal issue. Without a doubt. Also, to a lesser extent, the authoritarian regime in Tehran is also rather hostile to many of it's neighbors, and seems to look to expand it's power by use of force wherever possible.

Because I do not support most of the Iranian governments policies, does not mean that I support U.S., or any other foreign intervention into the rather sad domestic affairs of Iran. Any little criticism of the Iranian government on this board is met with bogus attacks that I want the U.S. or Israel to bomb Iran. I do not, and I think that that is obvious.

Alot of the posters on this site are alot like the neocons, and love it or leave types in the U.S. They have pretty weak defenses for the Iranian government, and anyone who disagrees' are just out to start a war.

muhammad billy bob / August 28, 2010 10:46 PM

Doctor SAHIMI, Mosavi/Karrubi/Khatami/Ganji/Sorosh/... are waste of time, they are all ex-bloody-criminals whose only objective is to maintain IRI; they are the behind the front soldiers of the islamic republic and traitors of various colors. They should be put on trial first for their past crimes. They are no leaders, and if they are, they can do no more than what their role model, emam khomeini did. They have already failed in uniting people of iran behind them, and we should do whatever we can to show their true faces to their misguided followers. Rejecting them is the duty of each and every true iranian.

Your support of these thugs is NOT pragmatism, it is ideologic based on continued fanaticism with the deceased revolution of 1979 and support for any mulla with turban or any sheikh with an ugly beard based on unconscious fear of demise of islamic republic. We need to stop changing allegiance from one criminal to another (khomeini, rafsanjani, khatami, ganji, sorosh, mosavi, karrubi) and view each as savior. That attitude is disservice to and treason against free people of iran. A country whose leaders are likes of these thugs does not deserve anything better than IRI and that is exactly what they have delivered and will deliver to iranians. Any support for them is support for continuation of the despicable islamic republic.

"One of the mandates of the islamic republic is to kill anyone who resists the just islamic republic, and to injure further anyone [who resists IRI] who is already injured. That has been the edict of islam from day one and will continue to eternity." Mir Hussein Mosavi, Kayhan Daily, 29 Shahrivar 1360.

Shahab / August 28, 2010 11:53 PM

Dr. Sahimi,

It is not just idealism vs. pragmatism. It is a lot deeper. Many people like me who have not had the opportunity to live inside Iran and lack inside knowledge have to be convinced and sometimes over and over again that there is indeed some light at the end of the tunnel.

We grew up hating these individuals for the destruction of what was so dear to us, namely our country Iran. Now we are told we need to tolerate them and even trust them in order to secure the future of our country. It is not an easy task and the much needed answers coming from you are a necessity.

We will never trust anyone again, especially the religious community and we should not. There has to be a system of checks and balances in place to protect the Iranian people. 1979 was too painful of an experience for millions of Iranians. As I told Ian,לעולם לא עוד,Never Again.

Thank you. I enjoyed reading your response.

Niloofar / August 29, 2010 12:49 AM


I respect your verdict about myself. Let's say that I even accept it. Now, let us get down to your type of pragmatism - if you have any:

Please enlighten the readers with your plans, thinking, and suggestions on how we can get Iran out of this situation.

Muhammad Sahimi / August 29, 2010 12:55 AM

Doctor SAHIMI: I can give you the framework of what can take us out of this mess; but I really like you to enlighten us first as to what you have in mind. You just like him /support him without telling us why. More specifically:

(1) We know where Mosavi stands today, what can he do for iran and (all) iranians (based on his current position on various issues as well as the realities of the islamic republic leaders and its constitution)?

(2) What kind of time frame do you have in mind for his "achievements" to materialize?

(3) How do those achievements fulfill the aspirations of people of Iran, specifically for FULL control of their own destiny?

(4) How do those achievements respond to "difficult" discriminatory issues specific to iran created by IRI (most did not exist under the last shah), such as:

(a) Religious minorities (e.g., bahais, zoroasterians who are in direct conflict with islam),

(b) spending of iranian wealth on iran rather than leaving it in the hands of military and thieves like rafsanjani, tabasi, ..., as well as spending it outside the country on likes of lebanon, palestine, ...,

(c) how can it lead to retirement of islamic republic constitution as well as its flag (or do you want to keep those?)?

(d) issues contradicting islam, like "hejab", "ghesas", "equality of genders", "ertedad", "sangsar", ...?

Let's forget about Mosavi's dirty past (although ignoring that would be an insult to tens of thousands who lost their lives, most under premiership of mosavi) for your comment. I really like to know where you think he "wants" / he "can" take us and when please. I want to understand the "pragmatism" of the rationale behind your position.

Shahab / August 29, 2010 2:45 AM

Firstly, apologies to everyone if my comments have caused something of a distraction from discussion of the main points of Dr. Sahimi's article. That was not my intention, but I suppose I might have expected something of a backlash. This'll be my last post on the topic.

George Stewart,

Skipping over the apparently _de rigueur_ flaming, you start badly by misquoting me and removing the context of my remark, which was in respect of the lack of legal opinion supporting Dr. Sahimi’s view of the “illegality” of UNSC sanctions. As far as I’m aware, none of the members of the Security Council (permanent or non-permanent members) believe the sanctions are “illegal”, and there are apparently no legal experts who have expressed that view, at least so far as Dr. Sahimi has been able to establish. In arguing with me, he referred repeatedly to the number of footnotes in his article, and now you are referring to the number of times his article has been cited. This seems very shallow. However, to test your assertion that there are loads of articles citing Sahimi, I did a search on Google with the relevant page:
and found that there seem to be *no* articles linking to it – apart from ones by Muhammad Sahimi – although I didn’t go through every Google page in the search results, so perhaps you’ll find one or two. That article is in several sections, so there may be links to the other parts of it – I haven’t checked. A very few comments on websites refer to Part VII, but it doesn’t come up in any actual articles (so far as I’ve seen from a relatively quick perusal).

So, to quote what I *actually* said to Dr. Sahimi:
“[...] I note that whilst you keep mentioning the number of footnotes in your article (no measure of the accuracy or validity of your arguments), on this matter you only quote two or three legal sources in your footnotes, none of whom support your position as far as I can see. There are other journal articles that you _could_ have referenced but didn’t. Maybe that’s because nobody agrees with you, and even you yourself have backed away from saying the resolution was ‘illegal’.”

You point out that I have accused Dr. Sahimi of giving misleading information, which was in respect of IAEA statements regarding Iran’s compliance. As I’ve repeatedly made clear, Dr. Sahimi has used a Feb 2008 statement by El Baradei as an indication of the *current* status of Iran, which *is* misleading and incorrect. If Dr. Sahimi says that the IAEA regards Iran to be compliant, but the IAEA say something different, there is an issue. It is a very clear issue.

Secondary to that very simple issue is the question of the validity or otherwise of the matters under consideration by the IAEA and which form the basis for “non-compliance” and sanctions. In your points 1-4 you give the impression that the “laptop of death” and disclosure/inspection of some plants and requests for discussions with engineers encompass the whole of the IAEA’s complaints; but this is not the case, and indeed I can immediately refute you by pointing out that (e.g.) Iran has admitted to possessing some highly questionable documents (GOV/2006/15 para. 20) which arguably violate the NPT and which the IAEA has continued to regard (in its latest report) as an issue, so clearly the points you raise are not sufficient. However, I can’t possibly answer you fully on the points you have chosen to make without going into great depth on the matter, and since I will be preparing an article on this subject for TB, which will cover all this and more, I trust you will allow me to address them in my own way at that time, and we can then continue this discussion (whilst others here can continue discussing the main content of Dr. Sahimi’s above article on the Green movement). Agreed?


In response to your points (a)-(c):

As regards point (a) I think it was perfectly clear from what I said that both the October 2009 and May 2010 [draft] agreements/declarations/proposals referred to a set weight of uranium, and that the estimate of the total amount of LEU held by Iran was a separate figure, so I never claimed that either agreement discussed a percentage figure – I merely disputed a statement by Dr. Sahimi relating to that general area.

As regards (b), you once again ask me to document my point about the May 2010 not being a real “exchange”; but I have done so with reference to the text of that agreement, and referred you to it. In case you are having trouble reading it, here are the key parts:

“5. Based on the above, in order to facilitate the nuclear cooperation mentioned above, the Islamic Republic of Iran agrees to deposit 1200 kg LEU in Turkey. While in Turkey this LEU will continue to be the property of Iran. Iran and the IAEA may station observers to monitor the safekeeping of the LEU in Turkey.

7. [...] the Vienna Group should deliver 120 kg fuel required for TRR in no later than one year.”

There is nothing about what happens to the LEU after receipt of the fuel, except that one can infer since it would be “the property of Iran” no other country would have a right to claim it. This is the basis for my assertion that it is not a “fuel swap” or “exchange”. It’s quite simple, really.

As for your point (c), I did not state that there was a discussion of cessation of enrichment in the October 2009 agreement, as neither you nor I have seen it (yet)! I made the point that the intent of the October 2009 agreement was to lead towards cessation of enrichment (so in fact my guess is that it *was* mentioned in some way), in contrast to the May 2010 agreement which specifically affirms Iran’s right to enrichment (i.e., heading in the opposite direction).

In none of these matters have I at any time changed my position, as you claim.


Thanks for the suggestion to talk to some Iranians about all this. I'll be doing that. And of course your comments and criticisms – even “judgement” – on any future article by me would be welcome.

Ian / August 29, 2010 3:01 AM

We are making progress Ian.

You now say that you never asserted that the differences between the May deal and October deal were related to the fraction of uranium or the cessation of enrichment. Great!

Let's move to your remaining point on exchange - your claim that it was really not an "exchange".

Ian, as you can see, for example, in the link below, the White House referred to it as an exchange (link 1) - they inferred the same rational line of thought as reported in most major western media (examples: link2 and link 3 below). Of course you may consider CNN and UPI more of the ".. this sounds just like an Iranian diplomatic communiqué."


Your position of "exchange" was really "not an exchange" is tenable so long as it is in an alternate reality bubble. Incidentally, you are free to live in your bubble; but don't expect Iranians to join in on the fun of a few surgical strikes on their collateral families!

Wish to reconsider your position on "exchange"? No? Would you enlighten us as to your company - that is the people who follow your line of "reasoning" on exchange? A few names we know?

Jay / August 29, 2010 8:48 AM

Dear Ali From Tehran @7:23 PM,

"The White Man's Burden gets so very burdensome when the foolish natives play hard to get!"

Indeed! How dare they not accept the helping hand of their masters!?

Jay / August 29, 2010 9:31 AM

Dear Jay,

Paragraph 6 of the Tehran Joint Declaration of May 17, 2010, reads as follows:

“Iran will notify the IAEA in writing through official channels of its agreement with the above within seven days following the date of this declaration. Upon the positive response of the Vienna Group (US, Russia, France and the IAEA) further details of the **EXCHANGE** will be elaborated through a written agreement and proper arrangement between Iran and the Vienna Group that specifically committed themselves to deliver 120 kg of fuel needed for the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR).” [emphasis mine]

Now try to reconcile this with Ian’s sleight of hand below:

“... the May 2010 agreement wasn't a "fuel swap" deal at all: Iran's low enriched uranium deposited in Turkey was to remain "the property of Iran", so Iran could have regained its deposited uranium *in addition to* the highly enriched uranium which it would also have received under the agreement. In other words, Iran would actually just be buying enriched uranium – not swapping it – a position previously rejected by the Vienna Group (US, Russia, France), and hence a moving of the goalposts.”
(Ian, Aug 26 @ 12:36)

“There is nothing about what happens to the LEU after receipt of the fuel, except that one can infer since it would be “the property of Iran” no other country would have a right to claim it. This is the basis for my assertion that it is not a “fuel swap” or “exchange”. It’s quite simple, really.”
(Ian, Aug 29 @ 20:10)

It is instructive (but not surprising) that Ian’s post of Aug 29 @ 20:10 above quotes Paragraphs 5 and 7 of the Declaration while leapfrogging Paragraph 6; quoting it would have vitiated the “quite simply, really” point of his sly prosecutorial argument.

Paragraph 6 was an invitation to negotiate an agreement on the details of the EXCHANGE -- not with Brazil and Turkey, but with the Vienna Group.

If the United States was inclined to negotiate, it would have guardedly welcomed the Tehran Declaration and hastened to set up the meeting between Iran and the Vienna Group called for in Paragraph 6. It “failed to reach common ground” because it didn't want to try.

I do not think it necessary to elaborate on why the United States acted as it did. Perceptive observers of American behaviour at home and abroad know precisely what compelled its unseemly haste in rejecting and even ridiculing the Tehran Declaration.

My clear conclusion: As Ian has so movingly entreated, we Iranians should learn to trust the British a bit more.

Ali from Tehran / August 29, 2010 2:41 PM

If they want to reach out and seek peace with the Green Movement, tell them like the borg says, "resistance is futile ... assimilate".

Mohammad Hassanpour / September 1, 2010 5:26 AM