President Trump has recently prudently blocked a strike on Iran for shooting down a US surveillance drone. Although Iran has long been the cause of violence and terror in the Middle East and beyond, war with Tehran is the last thing Washington needs.

The increased US economic sanctions on Iran since Trump withdrew from the six-nation pact have had a crippling effect on the regime’s oil revenues. Launching a military strike without any international support, however, would place Americans personally at risk across the Middle East.

To keep Iran from leaving the JCPOA, the European Union has announced a multimillion-euro credit line to ease trade between it and Tehran. Iran’s withdrawal would deepen the Gulf crisis, and prompt US demands for EU nations to quit and join Washington in imposing sanctions on Tehran.

Tehran has pledged to increase uranium enrichment purity levels over the 3.67% limit of JCPOA. It might be a symbolic increase to 3.68%,but Europeans will worry that the breakout time – the period it would take Iran to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb – could fall below a year.

Tehran will argue that breaching the limit doesn’t violate the JCPOA, claiming it is entitled to take reversible steps to suspend parts of the deal if another signatory has failed to keep a commitment, notably the undertaking to boost trade between the EU and Iran. The EU can add that the proposed credit should be seen by Tehran as intent to launch a trading mechanism that will allow companies to trade with minimum access to the banking system.

Most observers recognise that the situation could quickly spiral out of control, with the International Atomic Energy Agency promptly declaring Iran in breach of the deal. France, Germany and Italy are already raising concerns about Iran’s ballistic missile programme, saying it is designed to be capable of delivering a nuclear payload.

Participants no doubt used the recent G20 summit in Japan to press Trump to de-escalate and clarify the demands he is making of Tehran. Iranian president Hassan Rouhani, however, says he won’tnegotiate while Iran is under sanctions.

Meanwhile in Brussels, opponents of the Tehran regime protested. Scotland’s Struan Stevenson, co-ordinator of The Campaign for Iran Change, called on European governments to “wake up, …abandon your disgraceful appeasement policy and follow America’s lead by blacklisting Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps. America and the EU should …blacklist its Ministry of Intelligence and Security… Iran uses its embassies as bomb factories and terror cells, plotting atrocities...”

For Stevenson and many in the Iranian diaspora, Europe should also close Iran’s embassies, expel the diplomats, and let the Iranian people know that the West supports them. Since the 1979 revolution, the regime has spent vast sums trying to crush the opposition, seeking to imprison or execute those aligning with the resistance.

“For four decades”, says Stevenson, “the Iranian people have put up with rampant corruption, unchecked abuse of human rights, (including)women’s rights. Eighty million Iranians are angry, frustrated, and demanding regime change. Billions of euros are spent by Iran supporting Bashar al-Assad’s brutal civil war in Syria and on funding Hezbollah and other terrorist groups”.

This terror is not new. The UN has irrefutable evidence on the mass executions of about 30,000 supporters of the PMOI/MEK by mullahs in the summer of 1988. They were carried out on the basis of a fatwa issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.“Death committees” approved them. Khomeini’s successor, Ali Khamenei, has presided over a clerical dictatorship that has executed more people per capita than any other regime in the world.

With the drums of war sounding again, the most valuable thing the world’s democracies can do is to support Iranians in their non-violent quest to change their government and attempt to lower the diplomatic temperature in the region.

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