Diplomacy

WaPo Editorial: Trial of Reporter is an Iranian Effort to “Bully” U.S. Into Weak Nuke Deal

The espionage trial of Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian, which started today in Tehran, is part of “an aggressive campaign to bully the United States and its partners into weakening” the terms of the nuclear deal being negotiated by Iran and the P5+1 nations, a staff editorial in The Washington Post stated Friday.

Since the preliminary nuclear deal was announced April 2, Iranian leaders have engaged in an aggressive campaign to bully the United States and its partners into weakening its terms. Tehran first insisted that all sanctions against Iran must be lifted immediately, notwithstanding an agreement that they would be relaxed gradually as Iran fulfilled its initial commitments. On Wednesday, Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei declared that inspectors would not be allowed to visit military sites or interview nuclear scientists — two essential steps for completing a provision of the accord requiring Iran to explain its suspected work on nuclear warheads.

Placing Mr. Rezaian on trial just 35 days before the deadline for completing the accord looks like yet another attempt at intimidation — one that relies on the blatant abuse of the human rights of an American journalist. If Mr. Khamenei were serious about defusing Iran’s confrontation with the West, he would instead release Mr. Rezaian — and offer him the apology he deserves.

In addition to attributing the trial to a campaign of intimidation directed towards the United States, the editorial also asked, “If a U.S. citizen recognized by senior Iranian officials as a reputable journalist can be abruptly imprisoned on spurious charges, what treatment will be accorded the international inspectors who have to determine whether Iran is respecting its commitments?”

The editorial also questioned how the United States can trust Iranian President Hassan Rouhani or Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif to ensure that the terms of a future nuclear deal will be observed if they either can’t or won’t intercede on behalf of Rezaian.

A previous Washington Post editorial Rezaian’s imprisonment questioned whether Iran’s treatment of the reporter suggested that other visitors to Iran could be taken as hostages by the regime. Another editorial asked if a regime that held Rezaian unjustly could be trusted to abide by a future nuclear deal.

During a recent trip to New York, Zarif earned the derision of Iranian rights activists when he claimed, in response to a question about Rezaian, that Iran “doesn’t imprison journalists or dissidents.”

[Photo: Washington Post / YouTube ]