The ancient Persian ceremony of Nowruz, or New Year, can be traced back three thousand years. It looks like it will be a Happy New Year for Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s fundamentalist leader. 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 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 lift the sanctions imposed by President Trump, when he unilaterally withdrew from the nuke 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 Iran’s 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. Corruption, death and destruction will be the price we pay for renewing the deeply flawed JCPOA.

As Joe Biden ponders signing up to the tattered nuclear deal, he should contemplate the enormity of channelling hundreds of billions of dollars to the mullahs and the IRGC over the next decade. Iranians have suffered 4 decades of oppression and cruelty and long for regime change. They will be dismayed. Iran’s closest neighbours will share their dismay and will have little to cheer about at the Persian New Year.