In an online talk focused on the discontent of the Iranian people, Dowlat Nowrouzi, the UK representative of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, said on Tuesday that the US policy that has been guiding the nuclear negotiations has also given “legitimacy” to the Iranian regime and a “green light” to its regional intrusions.

Nowrouzi told an international audience of journalists and activists that such a policy is counterproductive, being predicated on the “totally, absolutely wrong” presumption that engaging with Iran on the world stage will lead to internal reform.

On Monday at the Wall Street Journal, an editorial Aaron David Miller of the Woodrow Wilson Center for Scholars also undercut this presupposition, noting that the Obama administration “may not have a clue” about the motives and intentions of the Iranian negotiators angling for a nuclear deal.

As such, Miller argued, the administration is drastically overselling that agreement when it fails to acknowledge that there may be unintended consequences, or that it may fall short of desire outcomes. “The greatest danger is that the U.S. is likely to confront a richer, stronger Iran still in a position to acquire nuclear weapons should it choose to,” Miller concluded. 

And those who are concerned about the domestic situation in Iran emphasize that a “richer, stronger Iran” will also be an Iran that is in a better position to increase repression of its own people at the same time that it redoubles its threats against regional rivals. Nowrouzi, the NCRI representative, pointed to a surge of executions in Iran and to the failure of the regime to pursue any economic reforms that would address the “catastrophic” poverty and hardship faced by ordinary Iranians.

On Tuesday, Politifact recalled attention to the “Rouhani Meter” that has been operated by online activists throughout the tenure of the current Iranian president, tracking the status of 73 campaign promises, most of which have been neglected or violated outright. The demonstrated continuation of domestic repression and censorship supports Nowrouzi’s claim that regardless of its leadership, the regime “neither wants any reform nor can do any reform.”

An editorial published by the Washington Times on Monday linked the recent surge of executions to the nuclear issue, arguing that “brutality is revered” in the Islamic Republic, as evidenced by the escalating use of the death penalty, the regime’s regional activities, and its pursuit of the world’s most destructive weapons.

“Secretary of State John Kerry has made clear that nuclear weapons and human rights are not to be discussed together at the bargaining table,” the editorial pointed out. “That’s unfortunate, because they’re inextricably connected. A regime that savages its own has a character problem that inevitably repeats itself in its relations with other nations. How can Mr. Kerry expect the mullahs to honor a wide-ranging pact about nuclear arms when Iran demonstrates that it has no respect for human life?”