June 6 (UPI) -- Europe's lame attempts to keep the Iran nuclear deal afloat after America's withdrawal never looked likely to succeed. EU companies don't want to risk the wrath of the U.S. State Department by breaching sanctions.
Now, as the tough new U.S. injunctions begin to bite, the Iranian regime has pressed the panic button. Over the weekend, Iran's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mohammad Javad Zarif urged the EU to stand up to the USA and to "make up for Iran's losses." His intervention was quickly followed by the supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who blamed the EU for not going far enough to cover the shortfall and threatened to pull out of the nuclear deal altogether.
To reinforce his threat, Khamenei ordered work to begin on a new centrifuge-assembly center at the Natanz nuclear site. This site and the regime's top secret nuclear program were first revealed by the opposition PMOI (MEK) in August 2002. Indeed it was the PMOI's call for international sanctions that finally forced Iran to accept the nuclear deal.
However, the deal, hailed by former U.S. President Barack Obama as one of the key achievements of his presidency, was a busted flush from the outset. The one-sided agreement led to the lifting of sanctions, releasing $150 billion of frozen assets. Far from investing in its own people, the mullah-led regime used the money to redouble its spending on exporting terror through their Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and Quds Force, both of which are listed terrorist organizations in the West and are involved in almost every conflict in the Middle East. As well as Bashar al-Assad in Syria and the brutal Shi'ia militias in Iraq, Iran bankrolls and supplies the Houthi rebels in Yemen and the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Massive uprisings across Iran, which began in late December, have continued sporadically to this day. Recent widespread strikes and protests by truck drivers and civil servants have almost brought the country to a standstill. The theocratic regime's response has been a ferocious crackdown. Hundreds of protesters have been killed and wounded on the streets. 8,000 have been arrested, 14 of whom have been tortured to death in custody. The pervasive use of the death penalty to eliminate political prisoners has catapulted Iran to the number one spot as state executioner per capita in the world. Over half of the recorded executions in the world now take place in Iran, with mass hangings often taking place in public.
The viciousness of the regime has led to outspoken condemnation by Amnesty International and many other human rights organizations. This week, seven political prisoners in Gohardasht Prison in Karaj, risked their own lives by publishing a letter of protest at the spiraling executions headlined: "Hanging is a murder by the government, in all circumstances." But such remonstrations fall on deaf ears in Europe, where the appeasers, led by Federica Mogherini, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, proclaim the forlorn hope that "constructive dialogue" will secure new, rich business deals, while political prisoners dangle from the gallows. The arch-appeasers in Europe appear to place lucrative commercial contracts with the Iranian regime ahead of basic human rights.
The EU should face up to reality. The corrupt and lethally brutal mullahs are not going to change their ways. They are the godfathers of terror across the Middle East and the wider world and leopards don't change their spots. Obama's nuclear deal was a charade. The Iranian regime never intended to give up its objective to build nuclear warheads and it has continued to develop missile systems capable of delivering these devastating devices.
Instead of struggling to come up with a package of incentives that might tempt the mullahs to stick with the deal, we should back the Iranian people who want rid of this fascist dictatorship and who yearn for Iran to become a peaceful and prosperous partner in the global family of nations.
Struan Stevenson, coordinator of Campaign for Iran Change, was a member of the European Parliament representing Scotland (1999-2014), president of the Parliament's Delegation for Relations with Iraq (2009-14) and chairman of the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup (2004-14). He is an international lecturer on the Middle East and president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.