The team around president-elect Joe Biden have made it clear that they want the Biden-Harris Administration to hit the ground running on ‘Day One’. Last Sunday, the president-elect announced that he will appoint Tony Blinken as secretary of state.  Blinken, is one of Joe Biden’s closest friends. He has been described by some US media commentators as the president-elect’s ‘consigliere’ on foreign policy. Blinken, 58, held a series of senior positions under Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He served as deputy secretary of state during Obama’s second term. Blinken has repeatedly called for the restoration of the Iran nuclear deal, a policy championed by Biden throughout his campaign. 

In a recent interview with CBS News national security contributor Michael Morell, Blinken said “When President Trump walked away from the Iran deal, an agreement that was verifiably working to block Iran's path to nuclear weapons, or at least to the fissile material necessary to make a weapon, he promised a better deal. And, of course, the opposite has happened. Iran is building back its nuclear capability.” 

Blinken said that President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) effectively freed Iran of its commitments under the nuclear agreement enabling it to enrich uranium at higher levels and to stockpile more. He claimed that Trump’s stance on Iran had effectively alienated all of America’s key partners who wanted to stick to the deal, stating “They've now spent most of their energy and efforts trying to keep the deal alive instead of working with us to confront some of Iran's behaviour, egregious behaviour, in other parts of the world and in other areas.” 

President Trump regarded his strategy on Iran as one of the foreign policy achievements of his administration. In his final days in office he may try to place legislative obstacles in the way for the Democrats. The US Senate, with a 52-48 Republican majority, (barring any surprises in the January 5 run-off in Georgia) will make it difficult for Joe Biden to restore the nuclear deal in any case. But either way, the incoming administration should be aware of several facts. Firstly, contrary to Tony Blinken’s assertions, the nuclear deal was not ‘verifiably working’. Iran was never in full compliance with the JCPOA. Indeed, the Iranian regime had never stopped work on its top-secret nuclear programme. At a press conference in Washington on 16th October this year, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) issued a report exposing the fact that authorities in charge of nuclear weaponization in Iran have established an entirely new site in the Sorkheh-Hesar region to the east of Tehran. The report outlined how the top-secret facility has been constructed in the middle of a military ballistic missile manufacturing complex. Work began on the complex in 2012 and the project became fully functional in 2017, dates that overlapped the 2015 implementation of the JCPOA and therefore debunk the regime’s claims that their nuclear activity has always been exclusively peaceful.

Such information is known to be reliable. The NCRI was first to alert the international community to the existence of a belligerent nuclear programme in Iran in 2002. That revelation and repeated revelations over the past 18 years, thanks to high risk and detailed intelligence by the Iranian resistance and other sources, have demonstrated that the regime has consistently striven towards the production of a nuclear weapon. Clearly the JCPOA has been an abject failure from the outset.

Secondly, the Biden-Harris administration should also watch closely what happens at the trial, which began yesterday in Antwerp, of Assadollah Assadi, a senior diplomat from the Iranian Embassy in Vienna. On 1st July, 2018, Assadi was arrested and charged with passing 500gms of TATP high explosives and a detonator to an Iranian/Belgian couple from Antwerp. He allegedly had ordered them to drive to Paris and detonate the bomb at a major rally organised by the NCRI and attended by over 100,000 people, including dozens of leading international and senior government officials like Newt Gingrich, Theresa Villiers MP - the former UK Cabinet minister and Stephen Harper, the former Prime Minister of Canada.

A bomb attack of this magnitude, which would certainly have killed and maimed hundreds on European soil in probably one of the worst terror acts in recent history, could only have been authorized by the Iranian regime’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and by its so-called ‘moderate’ President Hassan Rouhani, who has already called on Biden to “return to commitments” over the nuclear deal. Mohammad Javad Zarif, the Iranian foreign minister, as the minister in charge of all of the clerical regime’s diplomats, must have been a key party to the terrorist plot, along with the minister of intelligence & security Mahmoud Alavi and the leaders of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and their extra-territorial terrorist offshoot the Quds Force. All of this will be exposed in the Belgian court.

Assadi’s prosecution will be the first time ever a serving Iranian diplomat has faced trial in Europe for direct involvement in an act of terrorism. The Iranian regime has made desperate and repeated efforts to secure his release, claiming diplomatic immunity. But the Belgian and German authorities have stood their ground. Now, according to a report by Reuters on 9thOctober, Assadi has outrageously warned Belgian police authorities that if he is found guilty there will be violent reprisals against European targets by unidentified armed groups. 

The theocratic regime’s attempts to kill and maim people in Europe may now be moving towards a new and chilling dimension. The Iranian government, having already shown their determination to kill innocent people on European soil with high explosives, will show no restraint in carrying out future attacks.  The US and EU will be failing in their duty if they continue to appease this dangerous and aggressive terrorist regime. The United Nations General Assembly has just passed a resolution condemning the grave and systematic violations of human rights in Iran.

Tony Blinken should think again and advise the new US president to abandon the nuclear deal and pursue a tough line on Iran.