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The truth behind Tehran’s nuclear extortion tactics

Mohammad Eslami, the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran
Mohammad Eslami, the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran

Analysis by PMOI/MEK

Iran, October 11, 2021—Iran’s regime has produced more than 120 kilograms of 20-percent enriched uranium, its nuclear chief recently said to state media. In an interview with state media on Saturday, Mohammad Eslami, the head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), declared that the increase of enriched uranium is in accord with a law passed by the Majlis (parliament).

“We have surpassed the 120-kilogrm figure and in this regard, we’re ahead of schedule,” Eslami said.

Eslami’s remarks come at a time that the regime is under increasing pressure to comply with the 2015 nuclear accord, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Under the JCPOA, the regime must keep its uranium enrichment under 3.67 percent and its stockpile under 300 kilograms.

Eslami’s announcements is the latest of a long series of extortion tactics that the regime has resorted to as world powers are trying to revive nuclear negotiations and bring Tehran within the limits of the JCPOA.

In the past months, the regime has made demands for complete lifting of sanctions and the release of frozen funds before it resumes negotiations. At the same time, the regime has continued to ratchet up its nuclear activities, has denied to come clear on ambiguous aspects of its nuclear program, and has denied UN inspectors access to nuclear sites.

In Sunday’s interview, Eslami stressed that the regime would not allow inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect a site in Karaj despite having agreed to do so in a meeting with the head of the UN nuclear watchdog in September.

With its bullying tactics, the regime is trying to exude power and exact concessions from its counterparts. But behind these provocative actions is a regime that it is on the precipice of a disaster.

Tehran is faced with a growing challenge to fund its terror activities abroad and its destructive nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles program at home. This is why it is constantly pressing for a lifting of sanctions and access to frozen assets.

At the same time, the regime is faced with an increasingly restive population of 80 million people who are fed up with 42 years of corruption, repression, terrorism, and warmongering under the rule of the mullahs. Despite the regime’s brutal suppression of popular protests and a disastrous covid outbreak, which has been worsened by the mullahs’ criminal policies, people from different segments of the society come to the streets and protests to meet their demands. These protest movements are growing in number and size every day just as the effectiveness of the regime’s repressive apparatus wanes.

These circumstances have left the regime in a deadlock situation. If the regime was dealing with the international community in good faith, it would take positive steps by halting its uranium enrichment and letting IAEA inspectors visit its sites. But while the regime is trying to extort the international community for money, it can’t make any concessions in return.

But such a move would expose the regime’s weakness, which would have direct repercussions inside Iran and abroad. It would embolden protesters in their demands and their desire for regime change, and it would weaken the already diminishing morale of the regime’s own rank-and-file, making it harder for the regime to hold on to power. At the same time, it would send a signal to Iran’s neighboring nations to push back against the regime’s terrorist meddling in their country.

Under such circumstances, the international community must not be deceived by the regime’s bullying tactics. Four decades of appeasement and concessions have only emboldened the regime in the pursuit of nuclear weapons, terrorist activities, and human rights abuses. Only a firm policy will bring this regime of criminals to heel.

As former U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said in the annual rally of the Iranian Resistance, “[The regime] view concessions by the West as a sign of weakness, and you know historically it is not strength that is provocative when viewed by authoritarian regimes; weakness is provocative. So, the more weakness we show, the more likely the ayatollah will cause trouble.”