Iran held sham elections for its faux parliament Friday, with several thousand heavily vetted candidates vying to win 290 seats. The results will reflect the will of the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei—who ultimately decides who is allowed to run and who is allowed to win—more than they reflect the will of Iran’s people, many of whom are boycotting the vote. Khamenei undoubtedly would agree with Soviet dictator Josef Stalin that “It’s not the people that vote who count. It’s the people who count the votes.”
These are Iran’s first elections since the disputed 2009 presidential elections, in which Khamenei ordained that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad should be re-elected, despite early results that suggested otherwise. Now that the Supreme Leader has soured on Ahmadinejad after a series of political disagreements, Ahmadinejad’s faction is likely to suffer a setback at the polls.
Meanwhile, Iran continues to accelerate its production of enriched uranium and steadily advance its nuclear weapons program. The International Atomic Energy Agency is particularly concerned about activities at Iran’s facility at Parchin, which Tehran blocked inspectors from visiting earlier this month.
The Obama Administration, which has failed to halt Iran’s nuclear program, is under growing pressure to take stronger action ahead of President Obama’s meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday. Disagreements over how best to stem Iran’s nuclear advance have led to increased tensions between the White House and Netanyahu’s government.
Netanyahu is understandably determined to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear capability, which he has declared to be an existential threat to Israel. President Obama should make it clear that he fully shares that determination and pledge to take strong action.