A leaked document obtained and published by the Iranian dissident group “GhyamSarnegouni” reveals that the Iranian regime has been allocating more funds to develop its nuclear program. The group breached the servers of the regime’s presidential offices on May 29 and obtained a trove of classified documents.
In a confidential letter to the regime’s President Ebrahim Raisi, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), Mohammad Eslami, asks for more budget to increase the regime’s nuclear activities by building more nuclear power plants. Apparently, Massoud Mirkazemi, head of the regime’s Planning and Budget Organization, had delayed the transfer of two billion euros to the AEOI, prompting Eslami to write to Raisi to settle this dispute.
“In order to estimate the budget for constructing nuclear power plants in the 2022-2023 budget bill, a request has been made to include a specific phrase in the relevant notes. However, Dr. Mirkazmi expressed doubt regarding the opinion of His Excellency, which can be approached in either of the following ways: 1) Allocating two billion euros annually from crude oil for this purpose in the bill or 2) Approving this proposal in the Supreme National Security Council Plan,” the letter reads.
In response, Raisi rapidly agrees to include giving two billion euros worth of crude oil to Eslami and his organization to be used in the construction of nuclear power plants.
“Enclosed is an image of the letter dated 11/27/2022 from the esteemed Presidential Deputy and Head of the Atomic Energy Organization regarding the budget forecast request for the construction of nuclear power plants in the 2022-2023 budget bill. It is hereby announced that the honorable president has agreed to the first proposal and its inclusion in the 2022-2023 budget bill,” the letter reads.
According to a report by the Iranian Resistance on December 16, 2021, the largest portion of Iran’s 2022-2023 budget will be reserved for the regime’s military apparatus, including the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Army, and Basij militia, all of which are under the control of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The budget will also allocate a minimum of $5 billion in crude oil to enhance the regime’s “defense capacities and strategic research,” an increase from the previous year’s $4 billion. Notably, these institutions also include the regime’s state TV.
The Iranian people’s demands have been largely neglected in the budget bill. On December 12, the state-run ILNA News Agency reported that “the least attention has been paid to the welfare of a family household in the country’s budget.”
ILNA further stated that due to the minimum wage set by the government in the 2022 budget, the purchasing power of Iranians would decrease, leading to a deepening of social inequality, and increased relative and absolute poverty. ILNA also noted that Raisi’s government ignored inflation in 2020, and no compensation was provided for it, which led to rising inflation in 2021 and a further financial burden on the people.
It is noteworthy that Tehran’s main sources of revenue for its 2022-2023 budget include oil exports, tax revenues, and the removal of the official dollar exchange rate of 42,000 rials. According to the state-run Tejarat News on December 11, Raisi’s government aims to earn 3,810 trillion rials from oil sales, with 3,510 trillion rials coming from oil exports, which is a significant increase from the previous year.
The regime plans to sell 1.2 million barrels of oil per day, despite the oil market’s volatility caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. The government also intends to increase tax revenues by almost 62% compared to the current budget, with estimated tax revenues of about 5,270 trillion rials. The regime has promised to raise the salary base by 10%, but this increase is insignificant given the country’s rising inflation rate which hovers above 50%, effectively fluctuating the prices of basic items.
How Did Tehran Access IAEA Confidential Report?
On May 29, the Wall Street Journal reported that the clerical regime had “secured access to secret United Nations atomic agency reports almost two decades ago and circulated the documents among top officials who prepared cover stories and falsified a record to conceal suspected past work on nuclear weapons.”
“The IAEA records accessed by Iran were among more than 100,000 documents and files seized by Israeli intelligence in January 2018 from a Tehran archive. Some documents include handwritten notes in Persian on IAEA documents and attachments with Iranian commentary,” the WSJ report adds.
A confidential letter by Eslami to the regime’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, acquired by the GhiyamtaSarnegouni group during its recent taking down of the regime’s presidential sites and servers confirms this fact. “Greetings, Mr. Dr. Amir Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs, respectfully forward the attached image numbered 8313531/9649, dated 05/29/2022, depicting the activities of the Foreign Intelligence Organization and the Ministry of Intelligence concerning Iran’s request for access to Atomic Energy Agency information. Please review and consider the points outlined in the accompanying letter,” the leaked letter reads.
— NCRI-FAC (@iran_policy) August 9, 2022
Who is Eslami?
When Raisi appointed Eslami as the head of the regime’s AEOI, many argued that he was an irrelevant choice. But, as the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed at that time, despite his lacking scientific qualifications in the nuclear field, Eslami’s appointment is not surprising as he has been sanctioned by the United Nations for his role in the regime’s “nuclear weapons program.” Additionally, Eslami has played a major role in Iran’s ambitious ballistic missile program for over a decade, making his appointment as the new nuclear chief a concerning development for the international community. The appointment of Eslami, who has a history of lying and deceiving, suggests that the regime is willing to use any means to achieve its nuclear objectives. The appointment of Eslami as the new nuclear chief should be seen as part of the regime’s strategy to declare war on all fronts rather than a promising step towards a brighter outcome in the nuclear talks.
Given his lack of academic credentials, Mohammad Eslami is a trusted individual by Khamenei who is believed to possess the required cunning and determination to pursue the regime’s illicit nuclear ambitions. The leaked files highlight Eslami’s priorities, as well as Raisi’s, underscoring the willingness of the clerical regime to risk further isolation in order to achieve its goals. It remains uncertain whether the international community shares the same level of motivation to prevent such outcomes.