On Saturday, the Iranian regime’s new president Ebrahim Raisi spoke before the parliament as part of a hearing regarding his selections to head various cabinet ministries. In commenting on the prospective role for his would-be Oil Minister, Javad Owji, Raisi said: “There are a lot of possibilities and grounds for oil sales.”
Although Raisi met with Japan’s Foreign Minister on Sunday and urged the Japanese government to release up to three billion dollars in the regime’s assets that have been frozen in accordance with US sanctions, it is highly unlikely that Japan will defy those sanctions anytime soon. US allies have little to no incentive to take such risks at a time when the regime’s policies seem poised to become even more provocative in accordance with Raisi’s status as one of the regime’s most hardline figures.
Just a week before Raisi was sworn in, a sign of that provocation emerged from the Gulf of Oman when an oil tanker was struck by an explosives-laden drone which was traced back to the Iranian regime. The Mercer Street is Japanese-owned – a fact that recalls attention to an incident in 2019 when another Japanese ship was among those targeted by the mullahs’ limpet mines.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe happened to be visiting Iran at the time of the earlier attack. The more recent attack taking place ahead of a Japanese visit with the Raisi’s administration shows that the standing threat to international shipping is actually intended to intimidate governments like that of Japan into appeasing the Iranian regime with sanctions relief or other concessions.
Saeed Khatibzadeh, the spokesperson for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, tacitly confirmed the growth in exports on Monday, while also seeming to reference the coordinated defiance of US sanctions. “We sell our oil and its products based on our own decisions and the needs of our friend,” he said in a weekly news conference. “Iran is ready to send fuel again to Lebanon if needed.”
In another words, the Iranian regime would continue evading sanctions and its terrorist activities to further put pressure on the western governments to pursue the failed appeasement policy.
In 2018 the Iranian regime started explicitly breaching its commitments under the terms of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers. “In May, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that Iran was using one cascade, or cluster, of advanced centrifuges to enrich to up to 60% at its above-ground pilot enrichment plant at Natanz. The IAEA informed member states on Tuesday that Iran was now using a second cascade for that purpose, too,” Reuters reported last week.
In fact, the regime never really abided by its commitments under the nuclear deal. In January 2019, Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, acknowledged that the Arak heavy water facility remained fully operational even though the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) determined that its core was to be deactivated and filled with cement.
Despite the regime’s malign activities, the European powers continue to negotiate with the regime and holding the highly flawed nuclear deal. Giving any concessions to the regime would only encourage the regime to continue its evil deeds. Instead they should fill the JCPOA loopholes and increase sanctions on the regime to prevent it from selling more oil. The money would certainly be used by the regime to fund terrorism, as it did when billions of dollars were given to it following the JCPOA was signed by all parties concerned.
The regime’s pressure on Japan, the latest manifestation of the regime’s lack of respect for global peace and its breach of its commitments. Iran’s regime’s access to funds will only encourage the mullahs to further renege on their obligations. The western powers should adopt a firm policy that will curb the regime’s nuclear ambitions.