Some of my colleagues believe that a nuclear deal with Iran is likely to improve the human rights situation there. A major reason which I often hear to justify this view is: by reaching a deal, the threat of a U.S attack against Iran will fall substantially, thus leading to Iranian politics becoming less security oriented, or as some say “securitized”. And the less securitized the political atmosphere in Iran is, the less the regime can abuse human rights.
Yes, but no.
Yes, a deal is likely to significantly reduce the chances of war with the U.S. But, Iranian hard liners are likely to find another excuse to replace the threat posed by the US to securatize Iranian politics: namely the threat posed by ISIS to Iran.
So when it comes to the question of human rights and post nuclear agreement Iran, the best scenario is likely to be short term improvements in human rights. Not much more.
Abusing human rights is an existential necessity for Iran’s hard liners who rule the regime. And soon after a nuclear deal with the U.S, the threat posed by ISIS is likely to give them another excuse to crackdown against human rights activists in Iran, again. They’ll be back to their old tricks in no time.