In a hearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that there would be a “peaceful transition” of power in Iran with the help of elements inside the country. On top of this, there was an almost unanimous Senate vote regarding a bill named “Countering Iran's Destabilizing Activities Act of 2017”. The bill condemns the Iranian regime’s ballistic missile program, its destabilising activities in the Middle East and its human rights violations.
This is the first time in decades a US Secretary of State has spoken so explicitly about regime change. It is also the first time that there has been such a strong support – 98 out of 100 votes – for a bill regarding Iran’s belligerence.
It has been made very clear by the administration that the bill does not violate the 2015 nuclear deal, but it has also been very clear that the bill targets Iran’s most worrying actions. This has been emphasised time and time again by the Trump administration and is in stark contrast to the Obama administration’s treatment of Iran which allowed it to act as it pleased safe in the knowledge that there would be no repercussions.
Some have tried to say that President Rouhani’s second term will bring change to Iran, however even the most optimistic must surely by now realise that this will not happen. During his recent victory speech he said that the missile program will continue. He also said the following regarding a recent Senate move: “They are taken by mistake if the new U.S. rulers think they can pressurize Iran with bills … in the Senate and Congress.”
Since the nuclear deal was signed, Tehran has continued to work on its ballistic missile program with North Korean scientists assisting the Iranian experts.
Last month, the Iranian opposition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), revealed that the IRGC has more than forty missile sites across the country. They said that they are working on North Korean blueprints and models and North Korean experts are providing valuable technical insight.
The Iranian regime has also been increasingly provoking its neighbours and continues to ramp up suppression of its people at home. The international community needs to intervene immediately because instead of signs of improvement, all we are seeing is signs of desperation which are leaving the regime with no choice but to lash out.
The most effective way of moving forward will be through the use of sanctions. Also, listing its terrorist IRGC as such will be such a blow to the regime that it could be the start of a new era.