Iran has a new president, one who has been sanctioned in the past for murdering his own people. Ebrahim Raisi was sworn in on Thursday as the Islamic Regime’s eighth president.
“The sanctions (imposed) against the Iranian nation must be lifted. We will support any diplomatic plan that supports this goal,” Raisi said regarding the sanctions against his country for nuclear developments.
Raisi spoke at his swearing ceremony where he touted his country as the true defender of human rights and a force for peace in the region.
“The power of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the region creates security. Iran’s regional capacities back peace and stability in countries and will only be used to confront threats of domineering and tyrant powers,” Raisi said.
Raisi is considered a hardliner, a carbon copy of religious leader Ayatollah Khamenei — and the first Iranian president to be sanctioned by the US even before taking office.
“Ebrahim Raisi is called the ‘butcher of Tehran’ actually. He has a long track record of killing his own people, going back to 1988. You can say he’s responsible for probably about 10,000 Iranians being executed,” said Len Khodorkovsky, a former senior advisor to the US envoy for Iran.
Khodorkovsky said although the Ayatollah is the ultimate decision-maker, Raisi won’t give up much in talks to re-instate the Iranian nuclear deal—officially known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or JCPOA.
“We can expect them to play hardball and we’re seeing them play hardball right now, through their attacks on our interests, through attacks on an Israeli-owned ship just a few days ago,” Khodorkovsky told CBN News.
Khodorkovsky says it’s the Iranian negotiating style.
“What they’re sensing is that the Biden administration is signaling weakness. They’re seeing that there’s no price that they have to pay for each of these attacks and in return instead of playing hardball, the Biden administration makes more and more concessions,” he said.
Israel, the US and UK are blaming Iran for the attack on the Israeli-operated oil tanker called Mercer Street — that left two Europeans dead. Iran denies its involvement.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US is working with its partners on an appropriate response.
Israel is trying to rally international support for sanctions against Iran. But some 70 countries, including the European Union, attended Raisi’s inauguration Thursday. Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said they shouldn’t be there.
“Raisi is the most radical Iranian president so far, and the competition is tough. I call on the European Union – one cannot talk about human rights and at the same time pay homage to a murderer, a hangman, who has eliminated hundreds of opponents of the regime,” Bennett said.
In a joint statement, more than 10 Iranian opposition groups also challenged the EU for supporting the new president.
We urge the EU to fulfill its democratic and human rights commitments in its diplomatic relationship with the Islamic Republic of Iran and Ebrahim Raisi’s administration. We urge you to address the crimes committed against humanity, rather than standing with those who commit the crimes,” they wrote.
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid briefed ambassadors from UN Security Council member states this week on Iran’s involvement in the Mercer Street ship attack and its nuclear plans.
“Iran has violated all of the guidelines set in the JCPOA and is only around 10 weeks from acquiring weapons-grade materials necessary for a nuclear weapon. Therefore, it is time to act. The world must apply economic sanctions and take operative action against the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps,” Gantz said.
Bennett also issued a not so veiled warning to Iran
“The Iranians need to understand that it is impossible to sit peacefully in Tehran and from there ignite the entire Middle East. That is over,” Bennett said.
Israel has long said it will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. And now that it seems the clock is ticking, Israel will have to decide how far it will go to stop it.