It looks like it will be a Happy New Year for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the psychotic fundamentalist leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Reeling from years of US sanctions that have crippled his economy and constrained his enthusiasm for financing terrorist movements around the world, Khamenei now looks set to receive a multi-billion-dollar windfall, thanks to the generosity of President Joe Biden. As Iranians celebrate Nowruz - the Persian New Year - the increasingly infirm US president has signalled he is ready to sign a new nuclear deal with the Iranian regime. Talks in Vienna aimed at reviving the zombie deal have gone on for months. Now it seems the White House is eager to sign-up to an agreement that will lift the ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions imposed by President Trump, when he unilaterally withdrew from the nuclear deal in 2018. Ending sanctions will release billions of frozen Iranian assets. It will also enable the clerical regime to begin marketing its hydrocarbons again worldwide. With crude oil currently selling at over $115 a barrel, the mullahs will be laughing all the way to the bank!

The original nuclear deal, engineered by President Obama in 2015, was known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and was agreed between Iran and the so-called P5+1 – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – China, France, UK, US & Russia, plus Germany, together with the EU. Notwithstanding the fact that the mullahs have raced ahead with their efforts to build nuclear warheads to fit to their array of ballistic missiles, it seems incomprehensible that Western powers now appear willing to enter into a new agreement that also requires the approval of the Russians. The paradox of seeking Russian consent to a deal that the US hopes will dent the Iranian regime’s nuclear arsenal, while Vladimir Putin openly threatens the West with his own nukes, is mind boggling. The mullahs relied on their old friend in the Kremlin to deploy his military expertise at destroying cities and murdering innocent civilians in Aleppo, skills that he has now perfected in Ukraine’s Mariupol. 

Quite apart from a hostile Russia being a signatory to the revived JCPOA, the Iranian regime has demonstrated its own far from peaceful intentions, by intensifying its threats and violence against the United States, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. The Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen have continued to fire missiles and deploy weaponized drones against Saudi targets, while the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) have mounted regular attacks on shipping in the Gulf, the Strait of Hormuz and the Arabian Sea. As a reward for this naked terrorist aggression, Biden looks set to remove the IRGC from the US terrorist list as part of the nuclear deal. It is little wonder Khamenei, in his Nowruz message, crowed that the Americans had suffered “a humiliating defeat in their maximum pressure sanctions policy against Iran.” He will be overjoyed that thanks to the White House, he'll shortly be able to re-finance and re-supply Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Houthis in Yemen, the Shi’ia militias in Iraq, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza. As the main banker for proxy wars across the Middle East and terrorism around the globe, Khamenei was desperately short of cash. His Nowruz bonanza will certainly not put bread on the table for 80 million starving Iranians, although much of it will surely find its way into the pockets and Swiss bank accounts of the venally corrupt mullahs. Corruption, death and destruction will be the price we pay for renewing the deeply flawed JCPOA.

There is little doubt that the release in Tehran last week of two British/Iranian dual-national hostages, Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe and Anoosheh Ashoori, was a cynical attempt by the mullahs to pave the way towards the nuclear deal. There was never any embarrassment shown by the clerical regime for the jailing of the young British/Iranian mother for 6 years on trumped-up espionage charges. Indeed, they clearly calculated that keeping a young mother apart from her baby daughter for 6 years would pile pressure on the UK to pay a ransom for her release. The British duly paid £400 million, arguing that it was a debt they owned the regime dating back to the time of the Shah. They claimed it had nothing to do with the JCPOA talks. But of course, the IRGC are experts in kidnapping and hostage-taking and there are dozens of dual-nationals still held in Iran’s medieval prisons, as bargaining chips in negotiations to remove sanctions and re-boot the mullahs’ bankrupt economy. Barack Obama clearly thought that his historic nuclear deal with Iran in 2015 would bring the fascist theocratic regime in from the cold and help to normalize peaceful relations with the West. Of course, it did nothing to change the behaviour of the regime, who went on to kidnap Nazanin Zaghari-Ratclife in 2016, when she was innocently taking her 2-year-old daughter to meet her parents in Tehran.

The sham election of Ebrahim Raisi as president of Iran in August last year, was the clearest signal yet that the mullahs have no intention of changing their tune. Raisi is a notorious hanging judge, vilified for his role in death commissions that sentenced over 30,000 political prisoners to execution in 1988, in an atrocity now being actively investigated by the UN. Known as ‘The Butcher of Tehran’ for his crimes against humanity, Raisi ordered the IRGC to shoot dead over 1,500 mostly young protesters, during nationwide uprisings in late 2019, while serving as Chief Justice. It is rumoured that Khamenei even sees Raisi as his likely successor as Supreme Leader. This then is the criminal regime that Joe Biden and his Secretary of State Antony Blinken seek to deal with, channelling hundreds of billions of dollars to the mullahs and the IRGC over the next decade, after sanctions are ended and the tattered nuke deal is resurrected. 80 million Iranians who have suffered 4 decades of oppression and cruelty and who long for regime change, will be dismayed. They will feel the West has betrayed them in their hour of need. Iran’s closest neighbours will share their dismay and will have little to cheer about at the Persian New Year.