Iran’s upcoming parliamentary elections have provided the regime with an opportunity to manipulate public sentiment and desperately claim to be enjoying public support. By using nuclear propaganda, the Iranian government aims to provoke nationalism and encourage a high voter turnout among its extremely low base of supporters. Let us explore Iran’s recent nuclear belligerence, its impact on regional stability, and how the regime strategically employs nuclear propaganda to maintain its grip on power.

The Regime’s Strategic Use of Nuclear Propaganda
Iran’s parliamentary elections serve as a crucial mechanism for the regime to project a sense of popular support and maintain its authority. However, these elections are tightly controlled by the ruling establishment, ensuring that candidates aligned with the regime dominate the political landscape. To mobilize its low base of supporters and present the ruling mullahs as a legitimate authority, the regime strategically uses nuclear propaganda.

Recent claims by senior regime leaders, including Ali Akbar Salehi, a former head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization, suggest that Iran possesses all the components and fuel required for atomic weapons. Western officials are alarmed by these statements, as they contradict the 2015 agreement that aimed to limit Iran’s nuclear capabilities. The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has rebuked Iran for loose talk about nuclear weapons and called for transparency.

By promoting the narrative of Iran’s nuclear capabilities, the regime aims to create an atmosphere of strength, defiance, and national pride. Through state-controlled media outlets, speeches by senior officials, and other propaganda channels, they amplify the message of Iran’s nuclear achievements. This portrayal of Iran as a strong and united nation rallying behind the regime’s policies aims to increase voter turnout and consolidate the regime’s hold on power.

The Link Between Nationalism and Support for the Regime
The regime associates nationalism with support for the ruling establishment, presenting voting in the elections as a patriotic duty and a means of safeguarding national interests. They frame the elections as an opportunity for Iranians to express their loyalty to the Islamic Republic and contribute to the regime’s claimed stability and security. By intertwining nuclear achievements with a patriotic narrative, the mullahs aim to bolster their legitimacy and consolidate a hold on power.

However, it is crucial to recognize that the regime’s control over the election process, including rigorous candidate vetting and restrictive electoral laws, significantly limits genuine political competition. Opposition groups and dissenting voices are often marginalized or excluded from participating, reinforcing the dominance of the ruling establishment.

Potential Consequences of Iran’s Nuclear Advancements
Iran’s recent nuclear belligerence and advancements have raised concerns among Western officials and the international community. The defiance of international agreements and the pursuit of nuclear weapons have several potential consequences that could impact regional stability and global security.

Firstly, Tehran’s nuclear advancements could escalate tensions in the already volatile Middle East. Neighboring countries, particularly Israel, already perceive Iran as a direct threat and may be actively considering pre-emptive military action. This could lead to a dangerous cycle of military confrontation and retaliation, potentially triggering a larger conflict.

Secondly, Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region. Other regional powers, such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey, might seek to acquire their own nuclear capabilities in response to Iran’s actions. This would further destabilize the region and increase the risk of nuclear proliferation.

Thirdly, Tehran’s defiance of international agreements and nuclear advancements could undermine the global non-proliferation regime. The credibility of existing treaties and agreements could be weakened, making it harder to prevent other countries from pursuing nuclear weapons. This would have far-reaching consequences for global security and efforts to curb nuclear proliferation.

Lastly, the potential for nuclear terrorism could increase if Iran obtains nuclear weapons or advanced nuclear technology. The risk of proliferation to non-state actors or terrorist groups would pose a grave threat to global security, as these groups could use such weapons or materials to carry out devastating attacks.

Coercive Measures to Curb Iran’s Nuclear Ambitions
To address Iran’s nuclear program, the international community has a range of potential coercive measures at its disposal. These measures can include diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, arms embargoes, enhanced inspections, and cyber operations. However, military options are considered a last resort due to the risks involved.

Diplomatic isolation involves reducing diplomatic ties and limiting engagements to increase Iran’s diplomatic isolation. Economic sanctions, such as trade restrictions and financial penalties, aim to restrict Iran’s access to international markets and finance. An arms embargo can prevent the sale or transfer of weapons and military equipment to Iran, curbing its military capabilities.

Enhanced inspections and verification measures ensure Iran’s compliance with existing agreements, while cyber operations can disrupt and undermine Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. Military options, such as airstrikes or covert operations, are considered as extreme measures.

The choice of coercive measures depends on specific circumstances, the consensus among relevant actors, and the desired outcome. The international community should start supporting the Iranian people’s desires for democracy, freedom, and human rights. This is the regime’s Achilles’ Heel and if such a policy is effectively pursued it can deliver blows to Tehran like no other policy.

Fact-finding delegations of the 1988 massacre in Iran shed light on the horrific human rights violations committed by the regime. These delegations have extensively documented the systematic execution of political prisoners, predominantly members of the opposition group People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI/MEK). The recognition of this massacre is crucial to ensure justice for the victims and their families, and to expose the regime’s brutal actions to the international community. Recognizing resistance movements, particularly the PMOI/MEK, as one of the alternatives  to the current regime is essential for a future democratic Iran. The resistance has a clear platform based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, advocating for freedom, democracy, and human rights. Supporting and empowering this organized resistance can pave the way for a democratic transition in Iran, ensuring the establishment of a government that respects the rights and aspirations of the Iranian people.

Another crucial factor is the international community’s recognition of the Iranian people’s right to self-determination and self-defense against a violent regime. In 2022, Iran experienced an unprecedented popular uprising against the Islamic Republic system, during which security forces used live ammunition and metal pellets to violently suppress protests, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of men, women, and children and the injury of thousands. Additionally, thousands of individuals were arbitrarily detained and unfairly prosecuted for peacefully exercising their human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1948, emphasizes the inherent dignity and equal rights of all individuals as the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace. The International Covenant on Human Rights, adopted in 1966, outlines the substance of human rights and the obligations of signatory states to promote their observance. This covenant is divided into the “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” and the “International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights,” both of which recognize the right of self-determination for all peoples.

The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) plays a central role in the regime’s repressive apparatus and supports regional proxy groups involved in terrorism and destabilization. Halting trades with the IRGC is crucial to weaken its financial resources and disrupt its malign activities. By imposing and actually implementing sanctions and restrictions on businesses and entities affiliated with the IRGC, the international community can effectively undermine the regime’s capabilities and hold it accountable for its destabilizing actions.

The closure of the regime’s embassies is an important step in countering its influence and propaganda activities abroad. These embassies often serve as hubs for espionage, spreading disinformation, and suppressing dissent among Iranian diaspora communities. By shutting down these embassies and expelling regime operatives engaged in malign activities, countries can protect their own national security interests and contribute to the isolation of the Iranian regime.

Iran’s regime strategically uses nuclear propaganda to provoke nationalism and encourage a high voter turnout among its base of supporters in the upcoming parliamentary elections. By associating nuclear achievements with national pride, the regime aims to consolidate its power and present itself as a legitimate authority.

However, Iran’s nuclear belligerence raises concerns about regional stability and global security. The pursuit of nuclear weapons could escalate tensions in the Middle East, trigger a nuclear arms race, undermine non-proliferation efforts, and increase the risk of nuclear terrorism. The international community has a range of coercive measures at its disposal, including diplomatic isolation, economic sanctions, enhanced inspections, and cyber operations, to address Iran’s nuclear ambitions. However, military options are considered a last resort. It is crucial for the international community to begin supporting the Iranian people in their quest for democracy, freedom, and human rights as the main and most effective force against the ruling regime in Tehran.

By Paymaneh Shafi

Peymaneh Shafai is a computer science specialist, a member of the Iranian American Communities of Northern California, and a human rights advocate residing in Northern California. She has written multiple articles in the American Thinker, Arab News and The Baghdad Post.

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