U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken testifies before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on the Biden administration's priorities for U.S. Foreign Policy on March 10. Photo by Ken Cedeno/UPI | License Photo
March 29 (UPI) -- After spending most of last week in Brussels, American Secretary of State Antony Blinken will be reporting back to President Joe Biden on the progress of a shared U.S.-European Union approach to the Iranian regime and its clandestine attempts to build a nuclear weapon.
Hopefully, he will have decided that a strategic change of direction is possible and that further appeasement of the mullahs' regime is not only pointless, but dangerous too.
Blinken attended high-level meetings with NATO and senior EU officials. The European External Action Service and its top diplomat, the Spanish socialist Josep Borrell, will have been quick to confirm their priority foreign policy objective, the rapid reinstatementof the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal.
Since former U.S. President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew America from the JCPOA in 2018 and imposed a range of tough sanctions on the Iranian regime under his "maximum pressure" campaign, the EU has been desperately trying to find ways of restoring the deeply flawed deal and appeasing the mullahs.
Despite the EU's frantic efforts to reopen negotiations with the Iranians, Blinken will be well aware of the pitfalls that such a policy of appeasement will involve. He will know how the theocratic regime continued to construct and test ballistic missiles, in open defiance of the JCPOA and of Resolution 2231 of the U.N. Security Council, before the ink was dry on the nuclear deal in 2015.
The mullahs' regime even expanded its missile program and exported some of its missiles, primarily to its allies like Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Shi'ia militias in Iraq and Hezbollah in Lebanon. A report from German intelligence revealed that despite signing the nuclear deal and pledging to promote peace and security in the Middle East, the mullahs were continuing to smuggle key parts for ballistic missile construction projects and for the development of nuclear weapons.
The German report explicitly stated: "There has been little to no decrease in the Islamic Republic's efforts to gain technology for missiles capable of carrying warheads." The United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany, four of the signatories to the JCPOA, wrote a joint letter to the U.N. secretary-general, only months after the deal was signed, accusing Tehran of violating the agreement. Despite this. and despite ongoing contraventions and breaches by the mullahs, the United Kingdom, France and Germany have continued to press for the deal to be reinstated.
Since the United States withdrew from the JCPOA, the Iranian regime has openly boasted how it has accelerated its uranium enrichment process to 20% purity, way beyond the 3.7% purity allowed by the deal and well on the way to producing weapons-grade uranium.
Blinken will also recall the reasons why Trump withdrew from the nuclear deal in the first place, particularly the fact that the agreement prohibited inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency from accessing any military sites within Iran. The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps controls all of Iran's military sites and over 75% of the Iranian economy. It has been secretly working on nuclear weapons technology for decades and continued to do so even after the JCPOA was signed.
All of this work takes place on military sites, out of bounds to IAEA inspectors. The U.S. office of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, the main democratic opposition to the mullahs, recently uncovered a new site where nuclear development work is underway.
The site, revealed at great personal risk by resistance units of the People's Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), were located in the Sorkhheh-Hessar region, east of Tehran. The MEK sources identified the top-secret site just off the Damavand Highway, beyond a military checkpoint.
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 by the regime. 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 U.S. secretary of state will have to consider all of these issues against a background of ongoing egregious behavior by the clerical regime.
Last week, the NCRI published photos and information collected by MEK resistance units exposing two secret underground missile complexes from which a barrage of missiles were fired at U.S. bases in January, injuring over 100 personnel, some critically. The two missile bases are in the Kenesht Canyon near the city of Kermanshah in western Iran. The NCRI said its sources reported that the missiles are hidden in a network of heavily guarded, deep tunnels, from which mobile rocket launchers can be wheeled out, fired and quickly hidden underground again.
On Jan.15, missiles were launched from this secret complex, flying around 300 miles before raining destruction down on the U.S. forces at Ayan al-Asad Airbase and Erbil Airbase in northern Iraq.
Of course, Blinken will realize that the regime's offensive behavior goes way 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 on Feb. 4 and received the maximum jail term for terrorism and attempted murder of 20 years.
But acts of international terror and aggression are only the flip-side of the clerical regime's vicious repression of its own people. Forty-two years of medieval brutality has seen tens of thousands of dissidents executed simply for opposing the regime.
Nationwide protests are repeatedly crushed by the IRGC. Some 1,500 unarmed, mostly young, protesters were shot dead in a mass uprising in late 2019. Thousands more were injured, with many dragged off to prison from their hospital beds, never to be seen again.
This is the regime that the EU appeasers want to reopen negotiations with. This is the regime against whom the EEAS and its High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security Borrell, has so far failed to utter a single word of condemnation over the case of their terrorist diplomat. It would be very unwise indeed for Blinken to recommend the resurrection of the JCPOA. The 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 at home and abroad. The U.S. 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 the coordinator of the Campaign for Iran Change. He 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 is also president of the European Iraqi Freedom Association.