Speech by Struan Stevenson
Iranian Community – London
10th September 2020
As the crisis in Iran escalates, it is worth remembering that the world would never have known about the mullahs’ nuclear ambitions if it hadn’t been for the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK). It was the PMOI network inside Iran, at huge personal risk to themselves, who first provided this information to the international community through a press conference organised by the Washington representatives of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) in August 2003. Without this information, the world community might by now have been faced with a jihadist, fundamentalist theocracy in possession of a nuclear bomb. But even after the EU learned of the nuclear threat posed by the Iranian regime, they dragged their heels. The EU3 began negotiations that went on for years in Istanbul, in Vienna, in Switzerland, in Brussels and all the time, the mullahs continued to enrich Uranium. Hassan Rouhani himself bragged about this subterfuge in interviews he gave when he was the chief Iranian nuclear negotiator, before he became president. He boasted that he kept the westerners busy with the talks while they were speeding up enrichment at home, or how they occasionally stopped enrichment only to buy time to work on other parts of the bomb-making process.
Obama’s nuclear deal was a grave error from day one. It forbade inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) from inspecting any sites controlled by the military inside Iran. Virtually all of the theocratic regime’s secret nuclear programme was being developed in military sites and still is, so the deal was fatally flawed from the outset. Exploiting the weakness that has characterised Europe’s grovelling attitude to their medieval regime, the mullahs have intensified their efforts to undermine President Trump’s maximum pressure campaign.
So, it is hardly a surprise that Britain, France and Germany now seem determined to carve out their place as Europe’s top appeasers. The three countries have rejected America’s proposal to reimpose sanctions on Iran, including an arms embargo, that were lifted as part of the nuclear deal negotiated by the Obama administration. President Trump, who had criticised what he described as “the worst deal in history” even before he entered the White House, unilaterally withdrew America from the deal. He imposed a tough string of sanctions against the theocratic regime in Iran as part of his “maximum pressure campaign,” and he ordered the drone strike that took out the top IRGC Qods Force terrorist commander General Qassem Soleimani. Trump means business.
In mid-August, the US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo applied to the UN Security Council to have the arms embargo, due to expire in October, re-imposed on Iran.
But, with the help of abstentions by Britain, France and Germany, the Security Council refused, prompting Mike Pompeo to up the ante by declaring America’s intention to implement the ‘snapback’ procedure enshrined in the JCPOA. The snapback mechanism allowed signatories to the JCPOA to reimpose sanctions if they considered that Iran was materially in breach of the nuclear agreement. Having seen how the mullahs have begun to dismantle their own commitments to the JCPOA, restarting IR-2 and IR-2m type centrifuges to accelerate the enrichment of uranium, in open breach of the agreement, Pompeo insisted that the US would veto any attempt to end the sanctions. He found little support in the Security Council, where Russia and China joined Britain, France and Germany, the main signatories to the nuclear deal, in voicing their opposition to the US position.
Britain, France and Germany, who have desperately sought ways to keep the JCPOA afloat, prompting the US Secretary of State to accuse them of a “failure of leadership” and of “siding with the ayatollahs”. Now the standoff looks set to plunge the Security Council into crisis, which will have the mullahs rubbing their hands together in glee. They have routinely exploited the weakness of the EU in their efforts to have sanctions removed and the EU appears only too happy to oblige, slavishly following the original Obama policy. Joe Biden has confirmed that he will reinstate the nuclear deal if he becomes president.
By their failure to support the arms embargo, Britain, France and Germany have now signalled that the supply of arms to a country described by Mike Pompeo as ”the world’s largest state sponsor of terror,” is perfectly acceptable. Now they want trade sanctions to end, providing a lifeline to the mullahs’ collapsing economy and enabling them to redouble their sponsorship of conflict. A more misguided approach to one of the world’s most vicious fascist dictatorships would be hard to conceive.
If Mike Pompeo gets his way with the snapback mechanism, it would spell the end of the deeply flawed JCPOA and any chance of a possible military dimension. It would also probably spell the end of the clerical regime, now teetering on the verge of extinction following the collapse in oil prices, the US maximum pressure campaign and the ineptly-handled coronavirus pandemic which, reliable sources inside Iran claim, has so far accounted for over 102,000 deaths.
80 million Iranians, the majority of whom now struggle to survive on daily incomes below the international poverty line, are demanding regime change and the restoration of freedom, justice and democracy to their impoverished nation.
They have had enough of the mullahs and they look to the West for support. They will regard the restoration of arms sales and the removal of sanctions as an act of sickening betrayal. But distinguishing friends from enemies is a skill sadly absent in Europe today, at least in the context of a policy towards Iran.
The belligerent behaviour of the Iranian regime proves that attempts at diplomatic negotiation or appeasement are pointless. Terrified that their repressive regime could be swept from power by another revolution, the mullahs have set about torturing and executing the protesters who were arrested last November during the nationwide uprising. Now they have executed the famous wrestler Navid Afkari. Navid suffered weeks of severe torture. In a smuggled letter, he described how for 50 days he was beaten with sticks and batons on his arms, buttocks and back. He had a plastic bag placed over his head until he almost suffocated. The torturers also poured alcohol up his nose. His execution, despite international protests, is a disgrace and once again demonstrates why the leaders of this fascist theocracy must be indicted for crimes against humanity and held accountable in the international criminal courts.