Courageous resistance operatives embedded within the Iranian regime’s armed forces and other key state institutions have revealed an elaborate scheme by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) – the regime’s Gestapo, to evade western sanctions. Supporters of the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK) have risked their lives to uncover how an oil company that was set up in 2000 with the specific remit to defy sanctions, has sold vast quantities of oil and petrochemical products to Bashar al Assad in Syria and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. It has also sold Venezuelan oil and urea to the Houthis. Urea nitrate is a fertilizer-based high explosive that is used in improvised explosive devices. 

The oil company is called Petrochemical Commercial Co International (PCCI) and is under the control of the Iranian regime’s armed forces and in particular the IRGC. It is a subsidiary of “The Persian Oil and Gas Development Group Company,” which in turn is a subsidiary of the economic giant Ghadir Investment Company, operated by the IRGC and ultimately commanded by the Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The IRGC controls more than 70% of the regime’s economy and pays no tax. Its complex network of companies are used by the mullahs to bypass oil and petrochemical sanctions by channelling business through branches and firms with the same name operating outside Iran, specifically in countries that are not under sanctions. PCCI is also heavily involved in currency transfers to evade sanctions and spends the resulting financial benefits from its nefarious activities to promote the regime’s belligerence and terrorism abroad and repression at home. Ghadir and several other similar groups operate under the supervision of Brigadier General Mustafa Najjar (former Minister of Defense) within the context of the “Resistant Economy” ordered by Khamenei to cede control of Iran’s economic arteries to the IRGC.

The NCRI’s revelations show that the Iranian regime has been defying sanctions, violating international laws, funding its terror operations abroad, and suppressing protesters in Iran, based on a platform of blatant lies and deceptions. The policy of appeasement by the West, particularly over the past two and a half years, has allowed Tehran to circumvent sanctions, proceed with its nuclear weapons programme, and empower its terror network. America introduced tough sanctions on the mullahs’ regime in 2018 under President Donald Trump’s ‘Maximum Pressure’ campaign. The US also blacklisted the IRGC as a foreign terrorist organization. Although there have been repeated calls for the EU and UK to follow suit, both have opted for targeted sanctions on Iranian individuals and businesses. Apparently, there is a reluctance to blacklist the IRGC on the grounds that it would be unprecedented to grade a government institution as a terrorist entity, despite a mountain of evidence which substantiates that claim; evidence which appears to have satisfied the Americans.

The time for light-touch EU and UK diplomacy in our dealings with this criminal state is over. Targeted sanctions have simply not worked. Since the uprising in Iran began in September last year, the clerical regime has struggled to restore order, facing the dawning realization that it may never succeed in doing so. Women, who have been at the forefront of the protests, continue to go about their daily lives without wearing the legally mandated hijab, despite threats of increasingly draconian punishment for violating the Islamic dress code. Meanwhile, videos continue to reach social media from cities and towns across the country, showing that young women and men are still chanting provocative, anti-government slogans on a nightly basis, in open defiance of a brutal crackdown, which has left more than 750 people dead, 30,000 arrested and precipitated a huge surge of executions by the regime, designed to terrorize the dissenters. More than 144 people, including several women, were executed last month alone. Two weeks ago, the regime executed 3 young men arrested during the protests after torturing them into making false confessions. Dozens of prisoners on death row are currently being transferred to solitary cells to await execution. 

As it seems that nothing Western nations have done in the past has altered the egregious behaviour of the theocratic regime, the EU and UK must now seek to protect the Iranian people from this ongoing carnage. The only sure way of signalling support for the people of Iran will be to blacklist the IRGC. Sanctions are clearly not enough. Every pound, every euro and every dollar that ends up in the coffers of the regime is used for terrorism and inciting violence abroad and repression at home. The revelations by the Iranian opposition that the mullahs have developed a sophisticated way of by-passing sanctions underscores the urgent need for the international community to take decisive action to hold the regime accountable for its actions and to support the Iranian people in their quest for freedom and democracy.

In a breakthrough that has rocked the tyrannical Iranian regime and fired a shot across the bows of western appeasers, 109 former world leaders have signed a joint statement of solidarity with the people of Iran, showing their support for the opposition National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) and its key constituent organization – the MEK. Signatories to the letter include 50 former Presidents, 47 former Prime Ministers, one former Chancellor, and nine other former Heads of State from across the world. Two former Presidents of the European Commission and three Nobel Peace Prize laureates are also among the signatories. Former US Vice President Mike Pence added his signature last week. 

As the clerical regime enters its terminal phase, it is high time for the world to take concrete measures to hold the mullahs accountable for their appalling human rights violations. Iranians must be allowed to exercise their fundamental human rights without fear of reprisal. Justice and freedom are contagious, and the world must support the Iranian people in taking down their tyrants.