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Newsmaker speakers urge tougher sanctions on Iran, oppose nuclear agreement

Alireza Jafarzadeh (left), Kirk Lippold (center) and Olli Heinonen discuss the current nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran at a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference, August 3, 2015.Alireza Jafarzadeh (left), Kirk Lippold (center) and Olli Heinonen discuss the current nuclear agreement between the U.S. and Iran at a National Press Club Newsmakers news conference, August 3, 2015.

Photo/Image: Noel St. John

A former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspector, an Iranian opposition leader and the former commander of the USS Cole called the recently negotiated nuclear agreement with Iran weak and mistaken at an August 3 Newsmakers event at the National Press Club.

Kirk Lippold, who was the commanding officer of the USS Cole when it was attacked in Yemen by terrorists in 2000, and Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the U.S. office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, favored stiffer economic and trade sanctions to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear program rather than lifting sanctions under the agreement.

Olli Heinonen of Harvard’s Belfer Center, past deputy director of the IAEA, declined to label the agreement “good” or “bad,” but went on to identify the absence of a baseline describing Iran’s current and past nuclear program a weakness in the agreement.

“Iran, actually, is not changing its nuclear course,” he said.

He pointed out that the agreement’s 24-day delay in admitting inspectors after a request from the IAEA, as opposed to the current 24 hours, would permit Iranians to sanitize a small clandestine site, although not large sites.

The Iranians have learned from their past experience with IAEA inspections and will be better able to evade them in the future, Heinonen said. A further challenge will be finding enough qualified people to conduct the inspections, he noted.

In the future, equipment will be more efficient so that restarting Iran’s program after the agreement’s restrictions were relaxed, a part of the agreement, could be faster than anticipated, he said.

Lippold termed the agreement “poorly negotiated and fundamentally flawed.” It failed to address ballistic missile technology — which could deliver nuclear weapons — a part of previous nuclear agreements that was dropped with Iran in the beginning of the negotiations, he said.

He underlined the need for good intelligence in the region, noting its lack as part of the reason the Cole was attacked by terrorists.

Lifting the sanctions will cause Iran to spend more money on terrorism, he said. He noted that nuclear and other issues are kept separate in U.S. negotiations, which he favors because it leaves the option of imposing sanctions on Iran for sponsoring terrorism, taking hostages and developing other weapons. He also favors reserving the option of “kinetic force.”

Lippold fears “economics,” people other than the U.S. wanting to sell products to Iran, will drive events.

He said the agreement would “undermine US credibiity” throughout the world.

Jafarzadeh agreed that Iran will not change its course and will continue to pursue nuclear weapons.

The Iranian regime entered negotiations because it is weak and and feared the political consequences of continued sanctions, he said. If it could have continued without negotiations, it would have, he added.

He favors continuing to use sanctions on Iran with the goal of a new regime and democratization. The only condition for lifting sanctions would be a different regime, he said. “The element that is missing here is the role of the Iranian people,” he said.

For a video of the Newsmaker, go to

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