Radical judiciary chief Ebrahim Raisi was elected as Iran’s new president on Saturday. As a result, the new prime minister of another Middle Eastern country has warned the United States not to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal.
Right-wing politician Naftali Bennett took office as prime minister of Israel last week after his coalition ousted longtime Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Bennett addressed his feelings about Iran’s election on Sunday during his first televised Cabinet session.
“Raisi’s election is, I would say, the last chance for world powers to wake up before returning to the nuclear agreement, and understand who they are doing business with,” he said, according to Reuters.
“A regime of brutal hangmen must never be allowed to have weapons of mass destruction,” Bennett said. “Israel’s position will not change on this.”
The Iranian election itself raised questions regarding fairness. Fox News reported that less than half of eligible voters in Iran took part in the election. In the end, Raisi received 62 percent of the vote.
Bennett expressed his concern that the election was “enabled by Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei rather than by a free and popular vote,” Reuters reported.
Raisi’s resume is not exactly squeaky clean, either. According to Politico, he is already sanctioned by the United States for previous allegations of mass violence.
Raisi has been tied to the execution of “thousands” of political prisoners toward the conclusion of the Iraq-Iran war in 1988. Politico reported he has never publicly addressed the allegations.
“[O]f all the people that Khamenei could have chosen, he chose the hangman of Tehran, the man infamous among Iranians and across the world for leading the death committees that executed thousands of innocent Iranian citizens throughout the years,” Bennett said.
Clearly, Iran’s next leader is a man whose credibility is at best tarnished. That certainly casts doubt on the effectiveness of a revamped Iran nuclear deal.
Essentially, the deal championed by then-President Barack Obama in 2015 said the U.S. would end many sanctions against Iran in exchange for that nation’s promise to greatly restrict their nuclear development for 10 years.
That last clause was one of the central problems with the deal. After it expired at the end of 10 years, there was nothing stopping Iran from quickly developing a nuclear bomb.
In addition, the deal only restricted the amount of uranium Iran could enrich, but it did not ban the practice altogether, according to Business Insider, which said the deal would allow Iran “to have enough enriched uranium to maintain the country’s energy needs, without having the ability to build a nuclear bomb.”
The United States and the other countries in the deal are walking a very thin line there, as it would not be too difficult for a country that is already enriching uranium to secretly enrich more than it agreed to.
The deal requires trust between Iran and the U.S., which has been tough to maintain and won’t get any easier given that Iran’s next president is a man accused of mass executions.
As a general rule, it is not a smart idea to trust countries that have a history of radical violence. This is especially true when you are talking about the development of weapons of mass destruction.
Israel knows how dangerous Iran can be, which is why both Netanyahu and Bennett have maintained their opposition to the Iran nuclear deal. Even through a change of leadership, the United States’ ally has not changed its position.
This is not a sign that the current administration truly understands the threat of a radical new leader in Iran.
Thus far, Biden has not shown an ability to effectively navigate issues of foreign relations. He has a chance to change that by ending negotiations with Iran regarding a nuclear deal before it is too late.
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