The theocratic Iranian regime had a team in Vienna last week again trying to hoodwink the Americans into re-joining the defunct Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear deal, abandoned by Donald Trump in 2018. Under the directions of the elderly Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and their new criminal president Ebrahim Raisi, the so-called ‘Butcher of Tehran’, the Iranian regime have tabled demands that are impossible for the Biden administration to meet. They want the immediate lifting of all sanctions, including those that were directed at the regime’s proxy wars in the Middle East, which is something Biden, politically, cannot entertain. They also want a guarantee that no future US administration would ever again withdraw from the deal, a guarantee that no president is able to give. 

Meanwhile the mullahs have accelerated their programme of enriching uranium, now at 60% purity, which is only a step away from weapons grade. Their clear objective is to build a nuclear bomb and their pretext of negotiations in Vienna were only ever a masquerade to hide that reality from the West. American participation in this charade has become a circus. The Americans know that the Iranians have no intention of slowing their development of a nuclear bomb. They know that all they want is sanctions to be lifted so that they can kick-start the Iranian economy and continue to fund Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the Shi’ia militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. So, the JCPOA is dead in the water and Joe Biden should stop dancing to the ayatollahs’ tune and walk away from the sham negotiations in Vienna. The fact that he has now imposed a new round of sanctions on 12 named Iranians for human rights abuse offences, shows that he has reached the end of his tether and a nuke deal stalemate is inevitable. Joe Biden has surely learned that there is no sense in trying to appease the mullahs.

It is a sad fact that the most zealous appeaser of the mullahs is Josep Borrell, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs & Security. Borrell has bent over backwards to accommodate the clerical regime’s demands, even criticizing Janez Janša, the prime minister of Slovenia, who told a major summit meeting of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in July, that the "Iranian people deserve democracy, freedom and human rights, and should be firmly supported by the international community". He went on to say that "The Iranian regime must be held accountable for human rights violations".  Borrell apparently received an angry telephone call from the Iranian regime’s foreign minister and told him that the Slovenian prime minister’s comments were “most definitely not” a reflection of the EU’s position. 

Borrell’s position therefore appears to be that the EU does not believe the Iranian people deserve democracy, freedom and human rights? Nor does he clearly believe that the Iranian people should be supported by the international community or that the Iranian regime should be held accountable for human rights violations?  His comments can be seen to implicitly condone the Iranian regime’s crimes against humanity, which are well documented. 

For the EU’s leading diplomat to take the side of the Iranian regime and criticize a colleague is shocking, particularly in the light of his silence following the conviction of Assadollah Assadi, a registered Iranian diplomat, imprisoned in Belgium for 20 years in February for his part in a state-sponsored plot to bomb and kill hundreds attending an Iranian opposition rally in Paris in 2018. Borrell could have expelled Iran’s diplomats from the EU. He could have demanded tough sanctions against the regime. Instead, he chose to criticize the Slovenian prime minister Janez Janša. Borrell would be well advised to abandon his policy of appeasement of this repressive regime and turn his attention instead to providing EU support for the Iranian people, who long for freedom and an end to violent repression.

Khamenei thought that by engineering the election of Ebrahim Raisi as president, he would confront the West with a hard-line aggressor who would frighten his enemies into submission. His plans have backfired spectacularly. Raisi is on the US sanctions list for serial human rights violations. He is a murderer and perpetrator of genocide, who has openly boasted of his role as a member of the ‘death commission’ which oversaw the massacre of more than 30,000 political prisoners in the summer of 1988. Most of those executed, including many teenagers and even pregnant women, were supporters of the main opposition Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK). Raisi was, until his elevation to the presidency, chief of Iran’s judiciary, where he was able to indulge his expertise as a mass executioner. He ordered the murder of over 1,500 unarmed protesters during the nationwide uprising in Iran in November 2019. 

Now António Guterres, the UN Secretary General and Agnès Callamard, the Secretary General of Amnesty International, have called for Raisi to be investigated for crimes against humanity and for his involvement in murder, enforced disappearance and torture. It is essential for the EU to set out a clear roadmap for the indictment of Raisi and his henchmen for these crimes. There must be no impunity. Having agreed to a system similar to the US Magnitsky Act, the EU now has the power to punish individuals involved in human rights violations and genocide and to ban them from entering the bloc. Surely it is a sacred principle for the EU to condemn the crime of genocide and therefore to endorse a UN call for accountability over the 1988 massacre in Iran and the ongoing violations of human rights in that country?