Iran: Joe Biden's new US administration must not join Europe appeasing the despotic regime in Tehran – Struan Stevenson

After spending most of last week in Brussels, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be reporting back to President Biden on the progress of a shared US-EU approach to the Iranian regime and its clandestine attempts to build a nuclear weapon.

The head of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran, Ali Akbar Salehi, left, meets the visiting Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi in Tehran in February (Picture: AFPTV/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

Hopefully he will have decided further appeasement of the mullahs’ theocratic regime is not only pointless, but dangerous.

Tony Blinken attended high-level meetings with Nato and EU officials. The European External Action Service and its top diplomat, the Spanish socialist Josep Borrell, will have confirmed their priority foreign policy objective, the rapid re-instatement of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal.

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Since President Donald Trump withdrew America from the JCPOA and imposed a range of sanctions on the Iranian regime, the EU has been desperately trying to find ways of restoring the flawed deal and appeasing the mullahs.

Despite the EU’s frantic efforts to reopen negotiations with the Iranians, Tony Blinken will be well aware of the pitfalls of such a policy. He will know how the theocratic regime continued to construct and test ballistic missiles, in defiance of the JCPOA and the UN Security Council, before the ink was dry on the 2015 deal.

The mullahs’ regime even expanded its missile programme and exported some of its missiles to its allies like Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, Houthi rebels in Yemen, Shi’ia militias in Iraq and Lebanon’s Hezbollah.

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German intelligence has revealed that despite signing the nuclear deal and pledging to promote peace in the Middle East, the mullahs continuied to smuggle parts for ballistic-missile projects and the development of nuclear weapons. Its report stated: "There has been little to no decrease in the Islamic Republic's efforts to gain technology for missiles capable of carrying warheads."

The US, UK, France and Germany, four JCPOA signatories, wrote to the UN Secretary-General after the deal was signed, accusing Tehran of violating the agreement. Despite this and ongoing contraventions by the mullahs, the UK, France and Germany have continued to press for the deal’s reinstatement.

Since the US withdrew from the JCPOA, the Iranian regime has boasted of accelerating its uranium enrichment process to 20 per cent purity, way beyond the 3.7 per cent allowed by the deal and well on the way to producing weapons-grade uranium.

Tony Blinken will also recall why President Trump withdrew from the deal, particularly the fact that the agreement prohibited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency accessing Iran's military sites.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) controls Iran’s military sites and over 75 per cent of the Iranian economy. They have been secretly working on nuclear weapons technology for decades and continued to do so after the JCPOA was signed.

This work takes place on military sites, out of bounds to IAEA inspectors. The US office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main democratic opposition to the mullahs, recently uncovered a new site where nuclear development work is underway. Revealed at great personal risk by resistance units of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran/ Mojahedin e-Khalq (PMOI/MEK), the site was located in the Sorkhheh-Hessar region, east of Tehran.

Again, the regime has been accused of deliberately concealing elements of its nuclear activities after IAEA inspectors indicated they had discovered uranium particles at two sites from which they had previously been barred.

The nuclear inspectors had managed to carry out snap checks on both sites and have demanded an explanation from Tehran for the presence of uranium. The US Secretary of State will have to consider all of these issues against a background of the regime’s ongoing egregious behaviour.

Last week the NCRI published photos and information collected by PMOI/MEK resistance units exposing two secret underground missile complexes from which a barrage of missiles were fired at US bases in January, injuring over 100 personnel.

The missile bases are in the Kenesht Canyon near the city of Kermanshah. The NCRI said their sources reported that missiles are hidden in a network of heavily guarded, deep tunnels, from which mobile rocket launchers can be wheeled out, fired, then quickly hidden. In January, 15 missiles were launched from this secret complex, raining destruction down on US forces at airbases in northern Iraq.

Of course, Secretary of State Blinken will realise the regime’s offensive behaviour goes beyond these acts of aggression. They have poured billions into sponsoring proxy wars across the Middle East.

They have shown their contempt for the EU’s policy of appeasement by sending an accredited diplomat to bomb a major opposition rally in Paris. He was convicted, along with three co-conspirators in a Belgian court, in February, receiving a 20-year sentence for terrorism and attempted murder.

But acts of international terror are the flip-side of the regime’s repression of its own people. Forty-two years of medieval brutality have seen tens of thousands of dissidents executed simply for opposing the regime. Nationwide protests are repeatedly crushed by the IRGC; 1,500 unarmed protesters were shot dead in 2019 and thousands more were injured, with many dragged from their hospital beds, never to be seen again.

This is the regime the EU appeasers want to reopen negotiations with. This is the regime against whom the EEAS and Josep Borrell have failed to utter a word of condemnation over the case of their terrorist diplomat. It would be unwise for Tony Blinken to recommend the JCPOA’s resurrection.

The theocratic regime have proven again and again that they cannot be trusted. They are the Godfathers of international terror and the sponsors of war across the Middle East. They are guilty of crimes against humanity. The US Secretary of State would do well to listen to the cries of the 80 million Iranian people, who look to the West to support them in ridding the world of this evil and corrupt regime.

Struan Stevenson is coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change, an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association

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