MEK Iran: Nuclear Deal Must Not Exclude Human Rights
The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), and the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) reported that the foreign ministers from Iran, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China held a virtual meeting on Monday to discuss the future of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.
At the conclusion of the meeting, participants issued a joint statement emphasizing their commitment to preserving the deal.
European leaders have sought to salvage the JCPOA since the U.S. announced its intention to withdraw from the deal in 2018 and reinstated sanctions on the Iranian regime. Despite their repeated attempts to mollify the mullahs, the regime has taken drastic steps away from its commitments to the nuclear deal, stepping up its uranium enrichment program in defiance of entreaties from the international community. The JCPOA contains a mechanism to snapback pre-2015 sanctions in the event of such defiance, but the remaining signatories of the nuclear deal have been unwilling to do so.
Nevertheless, the European foreign ministers at the meeting sought to convince regime Foreign Minister Javad Zarif that Monday was his last chance to save the nuclear deal and normalize relations with the international community. European leaders hope that the United States will rejoin the JCPOA after President-elect Joseph Biden is inaugurated on January 20 and would like to have the deal on firm footing before he takes office.
Desperation and Defiance
Iranian regime President Hassan Rouhani has made it clear that Iran will not comply with the terms of the JCPOA until the U.S. suspends economic sanctions and apologizes for its policy of “maximum pressure.” This effectively nullifies any chances of productive diplomacy and holds every other country hostage to the regime’s demands. The regime is able to make these demands because Europe has shown no willingness to respond to its prior defiance. The signatories to the JCPOA have wagged their fingers and made threats of invoking the snapback provision, but they have done nothing to follow through. The regime has no reason to think that this time would be any different.
The European foreign ministers argued that Iran would reap the greatest benefits from compliance with the JCPOA, but all evidence points to the contrary. European countries have shown desperation to preserve the deal since the U.S. walked away. They have allowed Iran to dictate the terms of the agreement every step of the way. Iran may benefit economically from the deal’s preservation, but Europe clearly is more motivated. This gives Iran the upper hand.
Iran made this clear last week when it rejected a proposal from the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), stating that the JCPOA could not be renewed without a renegotiation of the terms of the deal. The regime was unwilling to even entertain this idea. Why would they? If Europe is desperate to preserve the deal, why make concessions?
As long as the regime feels that it is untouchable, it can draw out negotiations and run the table. Meanwhile, the regime is free to commit human rights abuses at home while the international community is distracted by the JCPOA.
The Path to a Real Deal
If the signatories to the JCPOA want a real nuclear deal, they need to show Iran that it needs the deal as much as the rest of the world. This can be accomplished by simply acknowledging what the international community has become accustomed to ignoring: human rights.
Anti-regime sentiment in Iran has boiled over into widespread social unrest over the last three years. The December 2017/January 2018 Uprising birthed a massive Resistance movement, led by MEK Resistance Units across the country. The repressive regime has been unable to quell protests, strikes, and demonstrations despite massive crackdowns and arrests.
The November 2019 Uprising was suppressed only after the regime shut down the country’s internet access, killed 1,500 protesters in the streets, and arrested another 12,000. Some of the victims were shot at random from helicopters. Even after this brutal suppression, another massive uprising took place in January 2020.
Reuters confirmed in a special report on December 23, 2019, about the deadly crackdown on November nationwide protests in Iran the death toll of 1500 that was announced by the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI / MEK Iran) on December 15, 2019.
The nationwide uprising
The nationwide protests have called for the end of the theocratic regime. Protesters have burned government buildings and other symbols of regime power. The judiciary has attempted to intimidate the public by sentencing protesters to harsh sentences, including the death penalty, and many detained protesters report being tortured. Still, regime officials and state-run media fear another uprising is on the horizon. Government and clerical leaders warn of the MEK on a regular basis.
The mullahs are vulnerable, and nothing scares them more than being exposed to their weakness. They are also currently waging a campaign of intimidation and torture against the MEK and other political dissidents. Bring this into the daylight.
If European countries and the U.S. put human rights on the table for negotiations, it would change the dynamic of the discussion. Openly talk about the suppression of protesters and the MEK. Let them know that we know what they are doing and why. Then renegotiate the terms of the JCPOA with provisions for human rights. If the regime wants to walk away, then the international community can sleep at night knowing it is not doing business with people who are comfortable with torture and terrorism. Make a good deal or don’t make one at all.