Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, described the Iranian regime as an octopus that for decades had encircled Israel with its tentacles in Syria, Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq and Yemen. He announced that Israel was now going to change its policy and instead of struggling against the tentacles, it will strike at the head of the octopus in Tehran. Prime Minister Bennet was referring to the theocratic regime’s military and financial sponsorship of Bashar al-Assad’s bloody civil war in Syria, now in its eleventh year, and the mullahs backing for the Houthi rebels in Yemen, the terrorist Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza, as well as the brutal popular mobilization forces (PMF) in Iraq. The mullahs’ proxy wars have led to the death of tens of thousands of innocent men, women and children across the Middle East and further afield. 

The Israeli Prime Minister’s warning should be a wake-up call for the West, where EU leaders are desperately seeking ways of getting the US to rejoin the defunct nuclear deal, signed by President Obama in 2015 and abandoned by President Trump in 2018. The so called Joint Comprehensive plan of Action (JCPOA), was only ever designed to last for ten years, after which the mullahs were free to accelerate their bid to build a nuclear weapon. Western intelligence knows only too well that clandestine work on a nuclear weapon and the missile systems capable of delivering it, have gone on in Iran before, during and since the signing of the deal and indeed have gathered speed since the US withdrawal. Israel knows it too and will never allow the Islamic Republic to become a nuclear state. Naftali Bennett reminded those that are clinging to the threadbare JCPOA negotiations in Vienna, that the mullahs only reason for being at the negotiating table is to end sanctions, receive money and strengthen their oppressive regime. He said this was why Israel was warning the Biden administration and the rest of the world about the dangers of reaching a deal with Tehran. “Even if a new deal is signed, Israel won't be obligated to it. We aren't part of it and Israel will retain full freedom of action in any situation. I'm implementing that daily and not only in words, but also in actions,” Bennett concluded.

Despite Israel’s dire warnings, British, German and French negotiators are bending over backwards to bring the tattered nuclear deal back from the dead. President Macron held what was described as a long phone call with Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi on Saturday 29th January. Referring to the nuclear deal, a spokesperson for Macron said: "The negotiations remain difficult as we need to clarify the question of guarantees (on lifting sanctions) and the framework of control over the Iranian nuclear program. Nevertheless, there are some indications that the negotiations could succeed." The European Union coordinator, Enrique Mora, said the talks had been put on temporary pause until "political decisions" could be made to break the deadlock. Macron’s anxious attempts to appease the mullahs have been mirrored repeatedly by Enrique Mora and his boss, the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell. Both seem determined to ignore Ebrahim Raisi’s role in the 1988 massacre of over 30,000 political prisoners, most of whom were youthful supporters of the opposition People’s Mojahedin of Iran/Mojahedin-e Khalq (PMOI/MEK). Raisi, who has even boasted of his role in the atrocity, is known widely as ‘The Butcher of Tehran’.

At the end of January, an open letter signed by 463 international human rights and legal experts, including the former head of the International Criminal Court (ICC) and eighteen Nobel laureates, was sent to the UN Human Rights Council. The letter singled out Iran’s current President Ebrahim Raisi and Judiciary Chief Gholam-Hossein Mohseni Ejei as key perpetrators of the 1988 massacre who “continue to enjoy impunity” and called for the UN to investigate them for crimes against humanity and genocide. It therefore astonishes many political observers that President Macron and Josep Borrell continue to ignore these atrocities and the mind-numbing repression and brutality in Iran, in their efforts to appease the mullahs. Such signs of weakness are eagerly exploited by the clerical regime, who re-double their authoritarian tyranny and export of terror.

The increasingly frail US President Joe Biden has signalled that he is keen to re-join the nuclear deal, but his negotiators have stressed that while America remains committed to diplomacy as the best way of stopping Iran from developing a nuclear weapon, it is preparing alternative options, along with its partners, should diplomacy fail. US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and his Israeli counterpart Dr. Eyal Hulata, together with senior representatives from their respective foreign policy, defense and intelligence agencies, met in late January as part of the US-Israel Strategic Consultative Group (SCG). The two sides apparently discussed forthcoming military exercises, although the White House would not confirm that these could involve a scenario for attacks on Iranian facilities.

Meanwhile, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has claimed that the Iranian regime has moved production equipment for advanced centrifuges, used for enriching uranium to weapons grade purity, out of a workshop where they had agreed the UN watchdog could reinstall surveillance cameras. The workshop at the TESA Karaj complex was the victim of apparent sabotage in June that Iran blamed on its arch-enemy Israel. Mohammad Reza Ghaebi, the regime’s ambassador to the Vienna-based IAEA, said the centrifuge equipment was being moved to a complex at Isfahan and that the IAEA would have no access to the new nuclear site unless the JCPOA deal was revived. His statement further undermines any slender hopes Western leaders may have of resurrecting the dilapidated nuclear deal.