The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) reported on September 4 that as the dust settles on Ebrahim Raisi’s new cabinet, there are expectations that the Iranian regime will soon begin accelerating their crackdown on dissidents and other destructive activities.
On August 30, saw the appointment of the latest addition to Raisi’s administration. Mohammad Eslami is set to take over the top position of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), a role which Ali Akbar Salehi has held since 2013.
The NCRI said, “Under Salehi’s stewardship, the AEOI was engaged in a strategy of duplicity, which allowed the regime to advance key aspects of its nuclear program while only seeming to comply with international inspectors over imposed restrictions.”
Two years ago, Salehi spoke to state media and admitted that the regime had conned the International Atomic Energy Organization into believing that they had deactivated the core of the Arak heavy water plant by using decoy components and doctored photographs. They had been required to do so as part of the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), however this deception allowed the regime to continue their path towards nuclear weapons capability secretly.
In February of this year, Mahmoud Alavi, the regime’s Intelligence Minister, claimed that the regime’s nuclear activities were purely intended for civilian research and the generation of power, before referencing Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s fatwa which claims that Iran aren’t intentionally trying to ‘break out’ to nuclear weapons capability.
Alavi said, “The fatwa forbids the production of nuclear weapons, but if they push Iran in those directions, it is not Iran’s fault. Those who pushed Iran in that direction will be to blame.”
Tehran continues to demand that all U.S. nuclear sanctions should be lifted before they will consider scaling back on their JCPOA violations, which have only encouraged Iran to reach higher levels of uranium enrichment.
The NCRI said, “Raisi, with his new AEOI head Mohammad Eslami, will be more focused on intimidation and blackmail in an effort to extract concessions and allow themselves to declare victory over Western powers.”
Both Raisi and Eslami have a history of deception. Raisi has greatly assisted with regime efforts to downplay and attempt to cover up the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners, an event in which he played a main part of. Eslami, during his position as the Minister of Roads and Urban Development, helped to provide a cover story for the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) in 2020 when they launched a missile attack on a commercial airplane, killing everyone on board.
It is likely that Eslami will use his deception skills to deny the future actions of the AEOI and will continue further down the road of nuclear weapons capability.
The NCRI said, “Eslami’s appointment as AEOI head provides him with an unprecedented opportunity to carry on these activities even while serving on teams tasked with directly negotiating with Western powers that remain hopelessly committed to the JCPOA. To end the regime’s race toward a nuclear bomb, the western powers should instead increase pressure on the regime.”