Can Iran's mullah regime keep ignoring international pressure?

 The Trump administration is set to announce soon that Iran is not in compliance with the international prohibitions on the manufacture of chemical weapons, marking a significant departure from that of the Obama administration, which refrained from making such a declaration amid efforts to solidify the landmark nuclear agreement.

Trump’s strategy is very clear. He is trying to cut the regime off from the income that it uses to fund terrorist groups and activities across the region. He and many members of his administration have been very outspoken and clear about their opinions on what they describe as the biggest threat to peace and security in the region.

Despite Iran’s signature to the Chemical Weapons Convention, U.S. intelligence agencies believe that Iran maintains a chemical arsenal that probably includes blister agents, blood and choking agents, and possibly nerve agents.

Speaking at the fourth annual meeting of the intergovernmental organization in The Hague, Washington was concerned that Iran is developing “central nervous system–acting chemicals” for offensive military purposes.

Citing Iran’s violations of the treaty, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, Kenneth Ward, gave three examples of Iranian malign activities. According to the U.S. ambassador, Iran failed to declare its capability to fill weapons with chemicals, didn’t announce the transfer of chemical-filled shells to Libya in the 1980s, and markets a notorious chemical weapon known as CR gas as a riot control agent at defense expos.

According to the Washington Post, in 2011, U.S. officials said that chemical munitions uncovered the same year by rebels in Libya appeared to have originated from Iran.

Following a new—and actually not so new—accusation, the Iranian regime’s president, Hassan Rouhani, and his foreign minister, Javad Zarif, hurried to cover up the mess.

Two weeks earlier, Jahan-e Sanat newspaper complained about the new U.S. administration, remembering the Obama administration nostalgically: “By declaring Iran non-compliant with chemical weapons treaties, the Trump administration wants to demonstrate a clear turn from Obama administration, which refrained from issuing such declarations while trying to reach the 2018 nuclear deal.”

Bahram Qasemi, Iranian spokesperson for the foreign ministry denied U.S. allegations and said: “The reason for such claims is animosity towards the Iranian people.”

Meanwhile, in a tweet, Zarif considered U.S. “accusation” against the Iranian regime “dangerous.”

Up until recently, the Iranian regime had a lot of visible and invisible support, and some Western countries even ignored Tehran’s terrorist attacks on their own soil in exchange for lucrative trade deals and cheap oil.  EU continues its Policy by Getting around sanctions. EU planned to implement a payment mechanism - a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) - that will enable these companies to avoid the US financial system.

But since the new administration took office in the U.S., as hard as Iran’s lobby in the West tries and as cheap as the regime itself sells Iranian interests abroad and in the region, one would have a hard time to find a country which offers more than rhetoric to support the ruling mullahs in Iran.

"But the issue is that most of Iran's biggest trading partners do and that affects their readiness to put at risk their access to the United States to do business with Iran," says Richard Nephew, a sanctions expert and senior researcher at Columbia University.

"We do not intend to allow our sanctions to be evaded by Europe or anybody else," National Security Adviser John Bolton said last week.

However, unfortunately, this policy is widely witnessed today in Europe. This is a mistake and all walks of life in Iranian society, especially the workers and farmers and even Europe’s security will be paying the price.

In the meantime, the domestic upheaval has been escalated from mid-December of 2017 In Iran, despite harsh security measure by the authorities, strikes, and protests of farmers, workers, students, looted people in Iran continued.

People from all walks of like took to the streets in various cities of Iran on Tuesday Nov.27, 2018, protesting the regime’s policies and demanding their rights. They shouted "Life, security and health are our right,” See this video.

During the recent protests, the Iranian regime’s security forces arrested at least 20 workers. The regime was later forced to release most of them because of the continuation of the protests and the growing wave of solidarity across Iran.

Which highlights that international pressure on the mullahs is good. Iran's beleaguered people can only hope that it will continue, because the mullahs cannot ignore this pressure forever.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1 

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