Saturday, 25 March 2017
The new threat made by Iran to ignore a key aspect of the nuclear deal aimed at curbing its nuclear program is a necessary reminder of a very important issue. Despite all the probable results that may ensue from Iran’s upcoming presidential elections, the mullahs’ regime in Tehran will not lose its dangerous characteristics.
This can also be perceived as a silver bullet against the impression, put forward by the Obama administration, that the highly flawed 2015 accord will actually transform the regime into a “moderate” entity. While Tehran has been at the receiving end of tens of billions, any engagement between Iran and the West is a repeat of a decades-old failed appeasement policy.
Iran’ support for terrorism, itscampaign to literally take control over Sunni governments, its increasing military posturing, the provocative threats made against the West and its allies, and domestic human rights violations have all been subjects of condemnation by the United States and its allies. With Tehran intensifying its belligerence and raising the stakes against the nuclear accord, all abovementioned factors are deepening into new perspectives.
In the latest of such episodes, Tehran is again challenging the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) by raising threats to unilaterally overturn a provision limiting its heavy water stockpile to 130 tons. This is a highly sensitive issue, as heavy water is a major element used in the production of plutonium. While already twice over the limit, Tehran has now informed the International Atomic Energy Agency through a letter saying there should be no need to abide by the terms as the mullahs continue their efforts to find buyers abroad for their heavy water surplus.
There are further concerns over compliance issues with Iran, especially since signs are seen in measures aimed at rewriting the JCPOA. The IAEA remains “unable to determine the absence of undeclared nuclear materials and activities in Iran,” as noted by the prestigious nonproliferation think tank Institute for Science and International Security.
Iran is currently raising the stakes for Washington and its Middle East allies by carrying out military drills. The regime’s navy is seeking to expand its exercise campaign in international waters, according to Iran’s naval chief, going to make claims of launching an indigenous warship, the Sahand destroyer. Such announcements are made only a month after naval drills covering a two million square-kilometer area spanning Persian Gulf waters, especially the complex Strait of Hormuz.
Iran has further pursued such behavior byunveiling theKarrar, claiming to be its first advanced battle tank, despite many questioning the legitimacy of such assertions. Testing more sophisticated ballistic missiles continue to be on the regime’s schedule, many of them enjoying nuclear-warhead mounting capability.
In the meantime, Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen are now resorting to the use of Iran-designed drone boatspacked with explosives. Such practices pose serious threats to commercial and military shipping lines in the strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait. However, Iran understands the consequences of becoming even more involved in Yemen’s continuing conflict.
In Lebanon, reports suggest that Iran is establishing underground rocket factories for its offspring, the Hezbollah, Tehran’s terrorist client camped deep in southern Lebanon and strategically located near Israel’s northern borders. The controversial matter has continued for decades as Israel is known to have launched airstrikes targeting Hezbollahconvoys and attacking a major arms factory in Sudan.
In regards to human rights, Tehran is escalating the crackdown against any individual deemed to threaten the intense grip the regime has established on political and social matters. Troubling numbers include nearly 3,000 executions under the watch of the so-called “moderate” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, including 75 women.
As the next presidential elections are looming around the corner in May, those following developments in Iran are mistakenly -- and at times with political motivations -- sounding alarm bells that increasing U.S. “aggression” in the face of Iran will strengthen the regime’s “hardliners”, increase the possibility of Rouhani losing, and rendering a new period of tension in U.S.-Iran relations.
Yet despite this perspective that has taken conventional wisdom in Washington hostage for decades, there is a stark reality that deserves recognition: it is Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei who has the final word on all national security and foreign affairs. Neither Rouhani, nor any other president before him, have been anything near a “moderate” or “reformer”.
One reason lies in the fact that the regime’s 12-member Guardian Council carefully vets all candidates before any elections. This is an ultraconservative body with members directly and indirectly selected by Khamenei himself. This leaves no room for even the slightest hope of change from within the Iranian regime.
Iran has a regime that has been – and remains -- completely anti-American from day one. Careful consideration and planning for the future is needed after the Obama administration provided too much breathing room for the mullah’s regime. From this day forward, Tehran must be punished for its belligerence, starting with blacklisting the Revolutionary Guards, the entity behind much of the crises riddling the Middle East and beyond. This is how the international community begins to contain Iran.