US media roundup on Iran highlights conflicting views

As the six global powers and Iran try to move forward from a framework agreement to a final nuclear deal, some prepare for peace, others for war.

By: Lauren Calin, World Israel News

Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reacted angrily to statements by Gen. Martin Dempsey, US Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding the sale of Russian S-300 surface-to-air missile defense systems to Tehran. Dempsey indicated that the Pentagon was prepared for the possibility and that systems such as the S-300 could not prevent the US from attacking Iranian nuclear sites if necessary.

According to the Wall Street Journal, at an Army Day celebration, the Ayatollah said, “The other side rudely threatens us with military action constantly. And it goes further, saying the Islamic Republic shouldn’t have defensive capability.”

Associated Press asked whether US President Barack Obama will need to outwit Congress on Iran sanctions. “Even if Congress rejected a final agreement, Obama could take unilateral actions that – when coupled with European and UN sanctions relief – would allow a deal with Tehran to be implemented. The president could suspend some existing US sanctions with his waiver authority. He could issue new orders to permit financial transactions that otherwise are banned under current law. And he could simply take certain Iranians and entities, including nearly two dozen Iranian banks, off US target lists, meaning they no longer would be subject to sanctions,” the news agency said.

Negotiations with Iran vs. Former Soviet Union

In a column in the Washington Post, Chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel Natan Sharansky, a world renown human rights activist and former political prisoner in the Soviet Union, says that he “cannot help but compare” the Obama administration’s policy “to that of the US during its decades-long negotiations with the Soviet Union, which at the time was a global superpower and an existential threat to the free world. The differences are striking and revealing.”

According to Sharansky, “Imagine what would have happened if instead, after completing a round of negotiations over disarmament, the Soviet Union had declared that its right to expand communism across the continent was not up for discussion. This would have spelled the end of the talks. Yet today, Iran feels no need to tone down its rhetoric calling for the death of America and wiping Israel off the map.

“The loss of America’s self-assured global leadership threatens not only the United States and Israel but also the people of Iran and a growing number of others living under Tehran’s increasingly emboldened rule,” Sharansky concludes. “Although the hour is growing late, there is still time to change course — before the effects grow more catastrophic still.

Business Community Optimistic

Meanwhile, many in the international business community are optimistic that sanctions will be lifted on Iran. The New York Times covered a delegation of entrepreneurs who had traveled to Iran in preparation for the resumption of business. “We are tourists,” said Dick Simon of the Young Presidents’ Organization in order to emphasize that this was not a business delegation. “But naturally many in our company have the potential of getting involved here, as they lead some very significant businesses.”

The Wall Street Journal, similarly, called attention to the presence of Western oil executives at the Second South Caspian Region Petroleum and Energy 2015 Summit, which focused on Iran. According to the newspaper, “Western executives have maintained clandestine contacts with Iranian energy officials, and that isn’t illegal. But it is still viewed as a sensitive matter…. Some of the secrecy has relaxed since the agreement. ‘Before, when I met Iranian officials in Tehran, I had to introduce myself as company-X for fear of leaks,’ said one Western European oil official at the Vienna summit. At this conference, he said, ‘I finally could say who was my employer.’”

Families of Captives Waiting for News

Families of US captives in Iran are still waiting to hear what will become of their relatives. Fox News spoke with the sister and brother-in-law of US marine veteran Amir Hekmati, who was arrested in August 2011 on accusations of spying for the CIA while visiting his grandmother. “He had to endure the news that they had told him that his mother was killed in a car accident…. He was drugged with lithium for a long period of time and then forcibly it was removed so that he would have to endure painful withdrawal symptoms, and then he was whipped on his feet,” said his sister, Sarah Hekmati. The family is calling on Iran to allow the Red Cross to to visit Hekmati without prison guards to ascertain his well-being.

The Washington Post is calling on Iran to release the newspaper’s Tehran bureau chief, who was arrested nine months ago on charges of espionage. Jason Rezaian was accused of “selling economic and industrial information at a time of sanctions,” which is being likened to selling food to the enemy at a time of war.

“Any charges­ of [espionage] would be absurd, the product of fertile and twisted imaginations. We are left to repeat our call on the Iranian government to release Jason and, in the meantime, we are counting on his lawyer to mount a vigorous defense,” said Martin Baron, the Post’s executive editor.