Officials of the Iranian regime and the other nuclear deal signatories met Tuesday to discuss how to resuscitate the agreement, formally known as the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Regime apologists want to paint this as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to end sanctions on Iran and bring the supposed moderates to power, so they stressed that there is only a small window for action before the June presidential elections.

But even supreme leader Ali Khamenei admitted in his Persian New Year speech that this won’t change anything and that he has no hope of a return to the lifting of sanctions the country enjoyed from 2016-2018.

Still, Iran needs the sanctions lifted if it has any chance of using the influx of cash – both from frozen assets and oil revenues – to quash the ever-growing calls for regime change that have dominated the country since 2017 in five nationwide protests. During the protests, people were heard chanting:

  • “No Shah, No mullahs”
  • “Down with the principle of velayat-e faqih”
  • “Down with Khamenei”
  • “Down with [president Hassan] Rouhani”
  • “Reformists, hardliners, the game is over”

This demonstrates that the Iranian people want regime change, they do not trust the moderates to have their best interests at heart, and they definitely don’t want the Shah back. They want nothing less than a true democracy.

The regime responded to this by shooting dead at least 1,500 in the November 2019 protests and hundreds more in the other protests. Not to mention all those arrested.

The Iranian opposition wrote: “Regardless of the results of talks with world powers, the Iranian regime cannot bridge the gap it has created with the people. The regime can’t tone down its repression, terrorism, and weapons-making programs because that’s what’s keeping it in power. As a result, it will spend any economic benefit from a potential agreement to further enhance its military, security, and terror apparatus. For the people of Iran, 60 million of whom live in utter poverty, the outcome of a new nuclear deal will only change things for the worse. The calls for regime change will remain.”

So the only question is whether the international community will stand with the Iranian people or the mullahs. While they’ve traditionally favoured appeasement, there is always the hope that they will have learnt that the regime will not willingly separate itself from terrorism and human rights abuses. Therefore, the only real choice is to support the people over their oppressors.