A short Q&A on Iran and its nuclear program

Last Wednesday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the regime will no longer abide by two obligations under the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Rouhani blamed the Europeans for “not living up to their promises.”

 

Q: What were the reactions?

The United States carried out two decisive measures literally ridiculing Tehran:

1) Dispatching the USS Abraham Lincoln aircraft carrier strike group to the region to confront the mullahs’ threats.

2) Imposing a new series of sanctions targeting the Iranian regime’s metal industry, including the vital steel, aluminum, copper and iron branches.

 

Q: How about Europe?

Despite the fact that Iran announced a 60-day ultimatum for Europe, the EU humiliated Tehran by delivering a response in 24 hours through a strong-worded statement. Two specific issues were reiterated to the mullahs’ regime:

1) Europe will not accept any ultimatum.

2) Threatening to refer Iran’s nuclear dossier to the United Nations Security Council.

Furthermore, French President Emmanuel Macron, in a rare move, said the JCPOA is incomplete and must be completed by addressing Iran’s ballistic missile program and the regime’s destructive meddling across the region.

 

Q: What is the meaning of Europe’s position?

Not only has Europe refused to provide any incentives to Iran, in fact they have taken a serious step towards the U.S. position and distanced away from Tehran. Europe has effectively confirmed two of the U.S. 12 conditions from Iran (ballistic missiles and regional meddling) should be included in the JCPOA.

This has resulted in escalating rifts inside the mullahs’ regime.

Figures such as Ahmad Alamalhoda, representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in the city of Mashhad, second largest city in Iran, are calling for a stronger tone and literally saying the regime should be ready for war.

On the other hand, those close to Rouhani’s faction are voicing deep concerns about the road ahead.

“If we don’t negotiate we will be inching closer to a military conflict,” according to the regime’s Arman daily. Other voices are going even further with the deep concerns.

“It is better to surrender to the pressures today. Next year we will have no card to play,” said Ehsan Khanduzi, a known Iranian regime pundit. In the next 12 months, the country’s economy will crumble completely. Social uprisings will boil over and we will be “sitting at the negotiating table with the [U.S.] government” with a far weaker hand, he further explained.

 

Q: Is all this the result of the U.S. dispatching military forces to the region?

One cannot deny the impact of these measures by Washington. However, the main reason lies elsewhere.

If we take into consideration the past 17 years, whenever the regime’s nuclear dossier becomes a topic of serious discussion we have witnessed a deepening of Tehran’s internal rifts. This specifically dates back to August 2002 when the Iranian opposition coalition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) blew the whistle on Iran’s secret nuclear weapons drive by disclosing top secret information on the locations of the previously unveiled Natanz uranium enrichment site and Arak heavy water facility. To this day, the NCRI has carried out more than 100 more revelations to open the world’s eyes to the mullahs’ drive to obtain nuclear weapons.

As a result, on three occasions we have witnessed former U.S. President George Bush and President Donald Trump emphasizing how America and the world were not informed of Iran’s nuclear program until the Iranian opposition shed light on this dossier.

 

Q: What was Iran’s objective in pursuing a nuclear weapons program?

Following the 1980s Iran-Iraq War, senior officials of the mullahs’ regime in Iran reached a conclusion that Tehran needs an element to guarantee their survival. This guarantee was sought in obtaining nuclear weapons and thus the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) was assigned to pursue the regime’s nuclear weapons drive.

Pakistan’s Abdulqader Khan and other former Soviet republic scientists were involved in the regime’s drive to obtain the ultimate weapon. However, as a result of the NCRI revelations, the guarantee sought by the mullahs’ regime has now literally transformed into a trap.

Furthermore, the U.S. State Department has recently designated the IRGC as a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” (FTO).

Another question left unanswered by Iran’s regime and its pundits is that while sitting on world’s second largest natural gas and fourth largest proven crude oil reserves, what is the need for a nuclear program that has brought about such turmoil, endless crises and escalating international isolation? Could it be anything other than the regime’s desperate need to obtain nuclear weapons?

With the NCRI revelations, the mullahs have realized their nuclear weapon drive is now a noose tightening around their neck. Rouhani himself has described the current conditions under escalating U.S. sanctions as harsher than the Iran-Iraq War era of the 1980s.

In 2013, Iran had no choice but to give into sanctions and reach the 2015 nuclear agreement. Despite all its flaws, the JCPOA forced Iran to cut back on its nuclear weapons drive and Khamenei described it as an “utter setback” in March 2016.

As the NCRI continued its revelations, exposing Iran’s ballistic missile program, terrorism and meddling across the Middle East, Washington withdrew from the JCPOA and placed forward 12 preconditions prior to any negotiations with Tehran. The mullahs’ regime has described these preconditions as “suicide in fear of death!”

Iranian Vice President Es’hagh Jahangiri recently said, “The wrong decision made by the White House (against Tehran) are based on biased reports provided by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).”

The PMOI/MEK is the main member of the NCRI coalition.

The current tsunamis witnessed in the region against Iran’s interests are the continuation of such a history of utter setbacks for Tehran.

The status quo for the mullahs’ regime has reached a point of escalating defections and Khamenei’s representatives in cities and towns across the country are saying, “People, don’t be afraid! Officials, don’t be afraid! The executive branch, don’t be afraid! The Majlis (parliament), don’t be afraid.”

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Human Rights: Iran’s Ultimate Vulnerability

Developments in the Middle East have placed the spotlight once again on Iran and its hegemonic temptations. This goes parallel to calls from parties such as France and Germany, whom Iran previously counted on in the face of U.S. pressures, demanding Tehran reel in its ballistic missile program and support for proxy groups across the region.

While all such measures are necessary and deserve escalation, Tehran’s human rights violations demand even more attention. This is the one issue that both shivers fear in the ruling regime and provides direct support for the Iranian people in their struggle for freedom, democracy and all the other values embraced by today’s 21st century world.

As the world marks International Human Rights Day on December 10th, we are also well into the first year of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s second term.

Dubbed as a “moderate” figure in Iran’s politics, with many arguing otherwise, the scene witnessed in Iran during his tenure has been far from it. Over 3,500 executions are merely the first stain of an atrocious report card of human rights violations.

new report by Iran Human Rights Monitoring reviewing the plight of human rights in Iran during the course of 2017 sheds light on a reality the regime strives to cloak from the world.

Mrs. Asma Jahangir, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Iran, in a semi-annual report referred to the absence of an independent judiciary in Iran. Improving the country’s human rights situation hinges on reforming the judiciary, she added.

Amnesty International in its 2016-2017 report indicated how, aside from China, Iran is host to 55 percent of all the world’s executions.

In June Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei used the term “fire at will” in a speech, leading to an increase in repressive measures and flagrant human rights violations.

This includes a 22 percent increase in the number of arrests, 25 percent increase in women executions, the execution of four juveniles, and a surge in inhumane and humiliating punishments, according to the Iran-HRM report.

Iran has witnessed 520 executions from the beginning of 2017 to the end of November, while only 91 such cases have been reported by the regime’s official news agencies. 28 of these were public hangings and five cases involved political prisoners.

The systematic murder of porters by state security forces in Iran’s border regions, counting to 84 such cases so far in 2017, raised a stir in social networks and even international media outlets.

Bent under the weight of their loads — smuggled cigarettes, alcohol, gasoline, and even home appliances — the mules are a common sight in Iran’s western border regions.

The report also sheds light on the atrocious conditions in Iran’s prisons, as severe crackdown measures have rendered jails packed with inmates. This has led to poor hygiene conditions, low quality food and many other dilemmas for the prisoners.

Iran’s jails are also home to at least 640 political prisoners, an issue Tehran refuses to recognize or provide any information about. These individuals are constantly tortured and placed under inhumane pressures, as more than 56 are victim to mental and psychological tortures.

One such hideous practice has been chaining inmates to a courtyard pole, seen carried out in Ardebil Prison, northwest Iran, according to the report.

Iran is also known to resort to inhumane measures resembling the Middle Ages. Five limb amputations, 32 lashings and more than 105 humiliating public parading of prisoners have been registered from January to November 2017.

Ruled by a regime founded on pillars of crackdown, Iran has long been criticized for its lack of press freedoms; more than 30 journalists and 18 bloggers are currently behind bars across the country. At least five journalists are banned from any such activities and dozens of others are serving heavy sentences.

In its April statement Reporters Without Borders ranked Iran as 165th among 180 countries on its index of press freedoms, adding the country ruled by Tehran’s regime is considered one of the world’s largest prisons for journalists.

After imposing censorship for decades and keeping the Iranian people cut off from the outside world, the regime ruling Iran understands the power of the internet and social media, in particular.

Women-in-an-internet-cafe-in-Iran.-specials.dw_.com_
Women in an internet cafe in Iran. (specials.dw.com)

While Iran cannot afford to completely cut off the internet, the mere fact that nearly 40 million Iranians are online daily is literally a time bomb for Tehran. The regime has gone the limits to ban and filter numerous websites and platforms, especially Telegram, considered to be very popular in Iran due to the privacy and security provides to its users.

Iranian officials have publicly announced the filtering of around 16,000 to 20,000 Telegram channels, went as far as blocking any live video streaming on Instagram and filtered Twitter.

Religious and ethnic minorities in Iran, specifically Christians and Baha’is, are experiencing similar restrictions, parallel to not being recognized by Iran’s ruling extremists and systematically placed under pressure from state officials and authorities. The UN Special Rapporteur in her report referred to the harassment of religious and ethnic minorities, specifically holding the IRGC responsible for arresting minority members.

For the first time the UN Special Rapporteur’s report refers to the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, consisting mostly of members and supporters of the Iranian opposition People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK).

A panel of prominent American politicians participated in a recent discussion in Washington, DC, unveiling a new book published by the U.S. Representative Office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the main coalition consisting of the PMOI and other Iranian dissident groups.

U.S. President Donald Trump has twice expressed the American people’s solidarity with their Iranian brethren, signaling a stark contrast in policy with his predecessor who failed to stand alongside the Iranian people during their 2009 uprising.

Sanctions and a variety of restricting measures targeting Tehran’s nuclear drive, ballistic missile program, and support for terrorism and proxy groups are very necessary, and should increase. Parallel to such actions, measures targeting Iran’s senior officials and the entities behind human rights violations must be placed on agenda by the international community.