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U.S. should think twice on Iran nuclear deal

By
Struan Stevenson
Austrian police officers and a journalist stand in front of a hotel on the day of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission meeting in Vienna on April 6. Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE
Austrian police officers and a journalist stand in front of a hotel on the day of a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action Joint Commission meeting in Vienna on April 6. Photo by Christian Bruna/EPA-EFE

April 12 (UPI) -- U.S. President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken are said to be keen to resurrect the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear deal with Iran. It would be a dangerous mistake.

The Americans sent a delegation to Vienna last week to kick-start new negotiations with the Iranians. The mullahs also sent a team of negotiators, although they met in separate venues. The mullahs have made it clear that they will return to the controls of the JCPOA only when the Americans lift all the sanctions imposed by former President Donald Trump under his maximum pressure campaign.

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Biden and Blinken should stop and think. They should ask themselves the question: "Why are the mullahs so desperate to have the economic sanctions lifted?" Is it so they can feed their impoverished people? No. That is the last thing on their minds.

The mullahs have stolen the people's wealth for the past 42 years, corruptly lining their own pockets, financing terror and turning Iran into an international pariah, its religious fascist regime condemned for sickening human rights abuse. Four decades of corruption and incompetence, with the bulk of the people's money going to finance proxy wars and the regime's burgeoning nuclear and ballistic missile programs, have wrecked the Iranian economy. That is why Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is desperate for U.S. sanctions to be lifted.

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The mullahs need the money to sustain their repressive dictatorship and to refinance the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, their version of the Gestapo. They need the money to accelerate their plans to build a nuclear weapon and ballistic missiles, which never ceased, even when the JCPOA was signed in 2015. They need the money to continue funding Bashar al-Assad's brutal civil war in Syria, in its 10th year. Iranian sponsorship has led to more than 700,000 deaths and 4 million displaced Syrian refugees. The mullahs have spent more than $30 billion in Syria -- .money stolen from their own starving citizens.

The mullahs also need sanctions to end so that they can continue to subjugate neighboring Iraq, funding the so-called popular mobilization forces, which are in fact vicious Shi'ia mercenaries who control large parts of the country with a major foothold in the Iraqi government and key parts of the economy. Under the leadership of the terrorist Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, they killed over 700 unarmed protesters who took to the streets of Iraq's towns and cities in late 2019 demanding an end to Iranian meddling.

Soleimani was a murderer and terrorist and his elimination by the Americans in Baghdad Airport in January 2020 was entirely justified and came as a lethal blow to his Iranian masters. The elimination of Abu Mahdi Muhandis, the Popular Mobilization Force commander killed in the same airstrike, has left the Iranian-backed militias leaderless and in some disarray.

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The mullahs also want sanctions lifted and billions of dollars of frozen assets released so that they can continue to finance and supply the Houthi rebels in Yemen. The Houthis, notorious for their horrific record of human rights abuse in their civil war with the legitimate government, control a large part of Yemen. They are armed by Tehran with weapons and ballistic missiles, and they frequently use these missiles to attack targets in Saudi Arabia, America's ally.

The mullahs also want the money faucet turned on again so that they can pour more cash and arms into the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah owes its complete allegiance to the Islamic Republic. The Iranian dictatorship is effectively involved in the quasi occupation of four Arab countries.

So, Biden and his secretary of state need to think twice before they rush into renewing the obsolete nuclear deal. They need to reflect on the fact that the mullahs have become the leading torturers and executioners per capita in the world, including the hanging of many women and even people who were children when their alleged crimes were committed. The Americans should remember that this is the regime that ordered the murder of more than 1,500 unarmed protesters, who were shot dead during nationwide protests in 2019. This is the dictatorship that ordered the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in jails across Iran in the summer of 1988. This is the regime that has executed an estimated 120,000 opponents and whose corruption and incompetence has so far caused the death of 250,000 Iranians from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In Europe, Germany is one of the key partners with France and the United Kingdom, in trying to push America back into the nuclear deal. It would be a catastrophic mistake, throwing a financial lifeline to a regime that is at its weakest point since it seized power in the revolution of 1979. Instead of rushing back to a redundant JCPOA, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and United Nations should sever all ties with this criminal regime, close its embassies, which it uses as bomb factories and terror cells, and expel its diplomats, that it uses as terrorist bombers.

It is time the West ended its failed policy of appeasement and began listening to the Iranian people.

Resistance units of the MEK, the People's Mujahedin Organization of Iran, have taken root in towns and cities across Iran. Courageous freedom fighters regularly stick up posters and banners and splash graffiti on public walls and buildings, showing their support for the Iranian opposition president Maryam Rajavi. They know they will face certain torture and execution if they are caught. The Iranians look to us for support, and it is time the West decided which side it is on.

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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.

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