Readers of Arabic woke up Tuesday morning to a double surprise: not only an article in a Saudi-owned publication by a close associate of Iran’s president-elect, but also what could be the first clear indication of which direction Rouhani might take the nuclear crisis.
For the benefit of non-Arabic readers: in his article Seyed Hossein Mousavian (rumored departing New Jersey for Iran) calls for Tehran to leave the NPT and instead anchor its nuclear policy in Khamenei’s fatwa.
According to Mousavian, membership in the NPT provides the international community with a pretext to continue pressure; in his view, leaving the NPT would deny that pretext. Replacing its obligations under the NPT with a commitment to the fatwa, he adds, would provide a moral basis he believes could persuade the international community that his country is not bent on a nuclear weapon – and as a result would refrain from adopting further sanctions against it.
Then again, the international community might respond with even tougher measures…
Of course, this is not the first time Iranians have alluded to the issue. Back in April, Mousavian himself expressed support for transforming the so-called fatwa – which nobody has actually ever seen – into a UN document. Around the same time, Iran’s tireless IAEA ambassador, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, made a thinly veiled threat to withdraw from the NPT.
Hard to know whether Mousavian and his mentor Rouhani are coordinating positions. But it is certainly interesting to note the similarities: in his new article, Mousavian is fairly clear he’s talking about a situation in which Iran’s “rights” are not honored. As for Rouhani, throughout the campaign he consistently emphasized that achieving any deal would depend on those “rights” being accepted.
Resumption of nuclear diplomacy promises to be quite interesting. Stay tuned.