By Hamid Enayat
The international community is still focused on Iran’s nuclear programme and the possibility of restoring the 2015 agreement, which was designed to keep the programme in check but was highly flawed. This position is ideal for the regime because, while the world is focused on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), little attention is paid to the mullahs’ other nefarious actions.
All of these efforts are anticipated to pick up speed in the coming weeks and months as President Ebrahim Raisi’s programme develops over time. This goal would be disastrous for Western interests, global security, and, most importantly, the Iranian people’s well-being.
Since Raisi’s “selection” in June, the regime’s officials have been ramping up a well-practiced policy of brinkmanship in an effort to keep the world’s attention focused on the JCPOA. Even as he prepared for meetings with the director of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) next week, the new head of the regime’s Atomic Energy Organization blasted inspectors from the agency as “unprofessional” on Thursday. Even as he conceded that surveillance cameras had been removed from an Iranian nuclear site, Mohammad Eslami’s statements accused the IAEA of being tied up on “insignificant old issues,” thereby concealing the world’s perspective of both present and previous actions.
Such acts, when combined with rhetoric that depicts the government as the victim of Western “arrogance,” demonstrate the regime’s sense of impunity. The next IAEA conference comes soon after the agency’s quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear programme and the status of the nuclear deal was released.
The report noted significant progress in the programme over the last three months, including the increase in Tehran’s stockpile of 20% enriched uranium from 62.8 kg to 84.3 kg. It further stated that Tehran has been refusing to offer adequate explanations concerning the presence of nuclear traces at three undeclared locations for more than two years.
Tehran’s provocations are unlikely to stop – in the nuclear sector or elsewhere – unless the international community confronts the regime’s impunity first. But, in recent months, Raisi’s impunity has only grown, driven in part by the worldwide response to his presidency and the confirmation of his cabinet choices.
In August, Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), described the new administration as “the embodiment of four decades of mullahs’ religious dictatorship and terrorism, whose primary mission is to confront the people’s uprising, plunder the national wealth, step up terrorism and warmongering, and expand the unpatriotic nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.”
Mrs. Rajavi pointed out that several of Raisi’s advisers are members of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), which are sanctioned by the US and the EU, and that at least one of them is wanted by Interpol for his involvement in terrorism. But none of these facts compare to the reality that the regime’s new president has long been identified as one of the main perpetrators of a massacre that killed 30,000 political prisoners in 1988 and for which no one has been held responsible at the international level.
If the international community expects the regime to participate in real talks, it must show that the penalty of not doing so is too great, because Tehran’s impunity has come to an end. First and foremost, Raisi should be sanctioned for crimes against humanity, a formal international probe into his participation in the 1988 massacre should be launched, and the possibility of having him tried at the International Criminal Court should be explored.