Has the World Gone Crazy? Iran Nuke Chief Tapped for Nobel Prize

February 4, 2016

2 min read

Despite his own statements suggesting his country’s disdain for the nuclear accord signed with the P5+1 powers, Iran’s atomic energy agency chief Ali Akbar Salehi is being named as a potential candidate for a Nobel Peace Prize. According to a report in The Times of Israel, he has been pegged by at least one analyst as a frontrunner along with fellow nuclear deal negotiator US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

Kristian Berg Harpviken, director of Oslo’s Peace Research Institute, announced that the pair were second on his list of speculative candidates, chosen for their work on the deal signed last summer, which resulted in severe sanctions against Iran being lifted in exchange for the Islamic Republic agreeing to curb its nuclear program. They were mentioned behind NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and ahead of the peace negotiators between the Colombian government and FARC rebels who are working to end decades of civil conflict.

Harpviken called Moniz and Salehi “worthy and likely candidates… (who) used their shared background from MIT to reach an agreement in spite of the differences and long-lasting grievances that exist between their respective countries.” He called their work “a fine example of science diplomacy,” noting that they “have received much of the credit for the (so far) considerable success of the Iran nuclear deal.”

Iran, meanwhile, seems to be laughing in the world’s face, with Salehi backing his country up. As recently as last week, Salehi told Iran’s Strategic Council on Foreign Relations that the deal he helped broker left much of Iran’s nuclear program intact, while garnering it international legitimacy, including the UN Security Council’s “acknowledgement and recognition of Iran’s nuclear program”.

According to Iran’s Mehr news agency, Salehi told the council the accord “did not completely stymie the program, and we have only been slower in terms of progress.” Moreover, in some areas, they have “accelerated the pace, including in the volume of nuclear material which was 550 tons before, now we have 770 tons of nuclear material. This is a fact known to (the International Atomic Energy Agency).”

Due to the lifting of sanctions, Iranian officials announced Monday that the country had gained access to $100 billion worth of previously frozen assets overseas. According to government spokesperson Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, much of that money had been accumulating in banks in China, India, Japan, South Korea and Turkey since 2012. Even US Secretary of State John Kerry acknowledged that such funds would serve to bolster terrorist activity.

In a press release, the Peace Research Institute stressed that Harpviken’s “speculations do not confirm, nor endorse, any candidate, and are not in any manner based on privileged access to the decision-making of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. Neither the Director, nor the Institute he leads, have any form of association with the Nobel Institute or the Norwegian Nobel Committee.”

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