The claim followed two days of discussions last month in Almaty, Kazakhstan. But a recently renewed practice in Tehran is much more telling about Iran's true nuclear program intentions. It should serve as a wake-up call for anyone wishing to believe Iran wants peace.
The practice -- described at this article's end -- and Iranian claims a "turning point" may have been reached must be put into context.
First, Iran's leadership is driven by its belief Allah has given it a religious mandate. It is the sole purpose for Iran's existence. It is based on an eschatology to which Tehran gives top priority. Its mission -- publicly acknowledged -- is to pave the way for the return of Mahdi -- the "Twelfth Imam."
Supposedly, the Twelfth Imam was a 5-year-old child who disappeared in A.D. 874, later rising into a state of occultation where he remains to this day. He will only return to Earth to lead Islam to world domination.
While his reappearance occurs under the guise of bringing "peace and justice" to the world, the reality is his efforts are only on behalf of Islam's believers -- i.e., non-believers must either convert or die. This is what Iran really means by claiming its nuclear program is for "peaceful" purposes.
Second, Iran's leadership says Mahdi's return can only be triggered by global chaos. Therefore, it seeks to be the catalyst in bringing about such chaos. And, what better way to do so then to detonate a nuclear device?
Third, the late Iranian Supreme Leader Ruhollah Khomeini, interviewed before returning to Iran in 1979 to take over its revolution, spoke about leading the country to freedom. Tens of thousands of Iranians subsequently died under his brutal, Sharia law-imposed rule. Khomeini knew he had no intention of bringing freedom and democracy to Iran but justified lying based upon "taqqiya" -- a religious concept allowing one to lie in furtherance of Islam's goals.
Iran's nuclear negotiators now rely upon taqqiya to claim a "turning point" may have been reached last month. It hasn't as they believe Allah's will is for Iran obtain a nuclear weapon to fulfill its religious mandate.
As Iran's nuclear program has progressed, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made clear it would never be reversed. In late 2005, he warned, "Any retreat (in the nuclear field) will open the way for a series of endless pressure and never-ending back downs."
His nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, added, "This is a war. If we take a step back today, tomorrow they will bring up the issue of human rights and the day after they will bring up the issue of Hezbollah and then democracy and other matters."
In late 2006, Ahmadinejad bragged, "whether a world without the United States and Zionism can be achieved ... I say that this ... goal is achievable ...," warning the West, "open your eyes and see the fate of pharaoh ... if you do not abandon the path of falsehood ... your doomed destiny will be annihilation."
Again feeling his oats, he later said,: "If you would like to have good relations with the Iranian nation in the future ... bow down before (its) greatness ... and surrender. If you don't accept (this), the Iranian nation will ... force you to surrender and bow down."
But it is the following declaration by Khomeini that brings the aforementioned renewed practice into clearer focus. The late supreme leader said, "The natural world is the lowest element, the scum of creation ... the divine world -- that is eternal."
To Khomeini and those of his ilk, death is transitioning from Islamic hell to Islamic heaven.
The renewed practice is Iran's issuance of passports to prepare for that transition -- not ordinary passports, but "passports to paradise" -- originally issued by Khomeini to young martyrs sacrificing themselves in the minefields during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war!
Iran's leadership is short on logic but only one possible reason exists for renewing this practice. It has warned its people war is coming. It has explained, millions will die when war occurs. It reports Israel and the United States will be attacked, triggering mass retaliation. But the passports are necessary to allow Iranians to transcend a "stairway to heaven."
Concerning nuclear retaliation, author Adam Garfinkle wrote: "Any rational person will avoid personal and national suicide ... When President Ahmadinejad of Iran speaks in apocalyptical, millenarian terms, many Western secular sophisticates force themselves to believe he can't be serious. Most likely, he is ...."
Islamist leaders justify Muslims incidentally getting killed in mass attacks "because 'Allah will know his own' so that the innocent will become instant martyrs in paradise." Garfinkle says such radicals "give every appearance of actually meaning what they say."
Eleventh-grade Iranian textbooks teach that in the upcoming war against infidels, Muslims cannot lose: "Either we all become free or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shall shake one another's hand at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, success and victory are ours."
Iran's Muslims see coming that which they cannot stop while non-Muslims fail to stop that which they refuse to see.
After Ahmadinejad initiates his world chaos, surviving Iranians will understand, all too late, the fallacy a stairway to heaven ever existed. Meanwhile, surviving Westerners will understand the fallacy peace with madmen can never really be negotiated.
(James G. Zumwalt, a retired U.S. Marine Corps lieutenant colonel and infantry officer, served in the Vietnam war, the U.S. invasion of Panama and the first Persian Gulf war. He is the author of "Bare Feet, Iron Will--Stories from the Other Side of Vietnam's Battlefields," "Living the Juche Lie: North Korea's Kim Dynasty" and "Doomsday: Iran--The Clock is Ticking." He frequently writes on foreign policy and defense issues.)
(United Press International's "Outside View" commentaries are written by outside contributors who specialize in a variety of important issues. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of United Press International. In the interests of creating an open forum, original submissions are invited.)