Iran’s relentless campaign of terror and repeated breaches of international law are exposed in a new report which warns of the dangers of giving in to the ayatollahs’ demands as Western powers negotiate in Vienna.
The details of 186 terror-related incidents emerge as nuclear talks are set to resume between Iran and the UK, US and other negotiators.
The discussions are an attempt to resurrect the 2016 deal which was agreed under President Obama to stop Tehran building an atomic bomb – which it is feared could be used against Israel – in return for the lifting of sanctions.
Some observers believe that President Biden, who was Obama’s vice-president, may be soon ready to agree to a new deal and lift sanctions against Iran.
But in the years since the 2016 agreement, Tehran has been responsible for a widespread campaign of terror, according to think-tank the Henry Jackson Society (HJS).
Former defence minister Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, now chairman of the Commons select committee on defence, backed the report and wrote its foreword.
He told the JC that any attempt to resuscitate the deal that does not include strict regional security guarantees and means to enforce them would be perilous. Mr Ellwood suggested that following the historic signing of the Abraham Accords, a “fresh approach” would involve other countries in the region that are not currently part of the negotiations taking part in a wider trade and security partnership.
Mr Ellwood said: “But for this to happen the West would require some significant statecraft skills. Sadly, these are currently in short supply.
“The worst-case scenario is no nuclear deal and Iran deepening its ties with the Russia/China alliance. This would trigger a very worrying axis of power for the West to contend with.”
The report, by defence experts Robert Clark and Luke Rawlings, comes as Iran has unveiled a new ballistic missile said to be accurate up to 1,000 miles away – enough to reach Tel Aviv from western Iran.
The report sets out details of missile attacks by proxy terrorist groups and drone attacks by Iranian allies.
It also identifies 54 breaches of UN Security Council resolution 2231, which prohibits Iran from supplying or selling arms to foreign states and militant groups. Among the recipients of Tehran’s arsenal are the Houthis in Yemen and extremists in Iraq using sophisticated drones and ballistic missiles.
As well as attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the report lists 52 incidents targeting Western coalition forces and business interests in Iraq by Iranian proxies Kata’ib Hezbollah and Saraya Awliya al-Dam.
These include the multiple missile strike against two US bases in Iraq in January 2020, mounted in revenge for the assassination of the Revolutionary Guard general Qasem Soleimani. More than 100 US troops were injured.
The report cites a further 12 attacks in 2021, including missile strikes against Baghdad airbase and Balad airbase, used by Western contractors, which resulted in numerous injuries and several deaths.
Alan Mendoza, the HJS executive director, added: “A bad deal would be far worse than no deal. If we truly want to reduce tensions in the Middle East rather than just kicking the can down the road for the next few years, we must ensure Iranian compliance with basic norms of international behaviour.”
The Iran nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plane of Action (JCPOA), was concluded under the Obama administration, but later repudiated by President Trump.
Although it remains nominally in force, Iran is said to have amassed stockpiles of both 20 per cent enriched and 60 per cent highly enriched uranium far larger than those stipulated under the agreement.
The HJS report says Iran used its growing wealth and readier access to hard currency following the JCPOA’s easing of sanctions to “continually ignore arms embargoes and arm proxy groups in the region with weapons that are later used against military personnel, civilians of Coalition interests in the Middle Eastern region”.
The period since the JCPOA was implemented has seen Iran’s Revolutionary Guard “cause the deaths of UK and US personnel and inflict traumatic injuries on hundreds of others through its sponsorship of violence”.
Only a “much more comprehensive nuclear and regional deal can sufficiently safeguard Coalition interests, as well as the interests of the local population,” the report adds.