n February 5, the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee organized a briefing on Iran's nuclear program with four witnesses, Trita Parsi, the life time president of pro-Tehran lobby group NIAC, Mark Fitzpatrick, director of Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Program at International Institute for Strategic Studies and two other witnesses.
As predicted, Parsi detailed his usual talking point that the West should offer more incentives to Iran and the Mullahs' redlines should be respected by the US administration. It is interesting to see how under very different situations, Parsi manages to arrive at the same conclusions.
Listening to Parsi's talks and reading his weekly articles, we should recognize the veracity of Federal court decision to dismiss NIAC's defamation lawsuit against one of its critics. In his decision , Judge Bates wrote:
"That Parsi occasionally made statements reflecting a balanced, sharedblame approach is not inconsistent with the idea that he was first and foremost an advocate for the regime... After all, any moderately intelligent agent for the Iranian regime would not want to be seen as unremittingly pro-regime, given the regime’s reputation in the United States." (p. 12)
The Parliament briefing's surprise came from Fitzpatrick whose expertise and balanced testimony contrasted Parsi's agenda driven talk. Fitzpatrick pointed to a key element of Iran's nuclear program, a reason why this program is not peaceful, an element known to every observer but intentionally masked by pro-Tehran advocates:
"We can't forget the basic problem of Iranian enrichment. Yes, it has a potential civilian use, but for what? Russia has promised the fuel for the lifetime for the only reactor in Iran that works today. Iran is talking about building another reactor at Darkhovin that will take 10 years or more to build it and it will be very unsafe to build it by themselves. So, they don't need to produce this much low enriched uranium today. It is like producing gasoline before you build automobile."
Fitzpatrick explained why Iran's heavy water plant reactor is designed to produce plutonium for nuclear weapon and why the 20% enrichment has no peaceful justification. Most importantly, Fitzpatrick opposed the idea that the West should reward the Mullahs to get their cooperation. He declared:
"Iran has sought to use its responsibility to address IAEA questions about transparency as leverage for diplomatic gain from P5+1. They have not signed the NPT, they are obliged to accept safeguards and they are obliged to address the questions that IAEA has posed to them about these pastWeaponization activities to get to the bottom of it.
Why Iran should be given a reward for complying with their responsibilities? I think it is obvious they should not be given such a reward."
What a contrast between an expert and a lobbyist!