Ebrahim Raisi, the Iranian regime’s new president has appointed a replacement to the chief of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI).

Mohammad Eslami, an official blacklisted by the United Nations, has been chosen to assume the role in the AEIO after having previously served as the Minister of Road and Urbanization for the regime.

Salehi, who had been the face of the regime’s nuclear project since 2013, played a pivotal role in the nuclear negotiations that led to the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the deal that allowed the regime to keep key parts of its nuclear program and preserve secret pathways to atomic bombs.

Whilst academically, Eslami cannot match his predecessor, his role in the shaping of the regime’s nuclear weapons program is all that Raisi needed to promote him to the chief position.

Between 2007 and 2017, Eslami served as the deputy minister in the Defense Ministry’s research department. Prior to that decade, he was the head of the Educational and Research Institute at the Defense Industries from 2004 to 2007, and the deputy chief of the Aerospace Industries Organization from 2004 to 2005. Thus, his ties to Iran’s military industry run deep, especially as he also has deep ties with the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), the military entity that controls the regime’s nuclear program.

In 2008, the United Nations slapped sanctions against Eslami for ‘being engaged in, directly associated with or providing support for Iran’s proliferation of sensitive nuclear activities or for the development of nuclear weapon delivery systems’. The UN designation of Eslami was linked to his ‘involvement in the procurement of prohibited items, goods, equipment, materials and technology’.

A former head of AEOI, Fereydoon Abbasi, who served the role from 2011 to 2013, is also a blacklisted regime official. Abbasi praised Eslami for his work history and accomplishments before describing his appointment to his new role as promising ‘the correct implementation of the nuclear strategies’ of the regime.

Eslami’s promotion to the role of head of the AEOI is seen as significant for a number of reasons. The first being that he is added to the list of officials who have received international sanctions for their part in the regime’s questionable activities. Also, with the introduction of a new AEOI head, the slate has been wiped clean in regards to the 2015 nuclear deal. There is no longer a legacy preserving the years of negotiations leading up to the deal made 6 years ago. Therefore, the regime is now free to ignore past discussions while they continue to breach the commitments they made in the past.

The timing of Eslami’s promotion comes soon after the regime’s latest activities to increase its activities in regards to uranium enrichment. Attempts to resolve the regime’s nuclear deadlock and curb their enrichment activities and nuclear ambitions through negotiations in Vienna have failed so far.

With a government that is led by a human rights violator and a nuclear chief that has played a key role in kickstarting the regime’s nuclear weapons program, the West ought to heed warnings by politicians and experts that have underlined the dangers of showering the regime with concessions in hopes of having it respect its obligations to preserve world peace and security.