Monday, May 29, 2006

Shah's son urges action on Iran

The exiled son of Iran's late shah on Monday called on the Bush administration to put action before rhetoric in ousting Tehran's Islamic regime, which he said has long been the source of global instability.

Reza Pahlavi, 45, the eldest son of the late Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, said Iranians are ready to actively oppose the Islamic regime of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but need more than pro-democratic utterances from world leaders like U.S. President George W. Bush.

"Fantastic, we love to hear that, motherhood and apple pie," Pahlavi said of Bush's statements that the United States supports a free, democratic Iran.

"What remains to be seen again is in what concrete way the U.S. administration will take the necessary steps," Pahlavi told Reuters in an interview at his home in a suburb of Washington, flanked by the Iranian flag and portraits of his mother and father, the U.S.-backed monarch who was deposed in the 1979 Islamic revolution. READ MORE

The United States and other nations should actively support Iran's dissident groups and give them the technical gear and expertise to get their message out, Pahlavi said.

Pahlavi said regime change in Iran will leave the Middle East a safer place, and said that Iran's clerics have long been a prime mover behind violence in Iraq, Lebanon and Sudan.

"For 27 years we have seen the world sending their firetrucks to try to extinguish fires all over the planet," he said. "But nobody has asked the question 'Who is the main culprit?' ... When you come to think of it, it has been Tehran all along."

The United States and Iran are at odds over Western accusations that Iran's nuclear program is a cover for making weapons. Iran says it wants to use the enriched uranium for electricity generation.

Pahlavi, who trained in the United States as a jet fighter pilot, said Iran has the right to nuclear technology, but not to threaten other nations with it.

"It was never a question of Iran having the right -- the problem is the finger on the trigger," he said, referring to Ahmadinejad's public calls for Israel's destruction.

However, Pahlavi said the United States should not pursue military means to take away Iran's uranium-enrichment capability. Bush has said military options are on the table but has stressed the need for diplomatic talks.

Instead of a military strike, Pahlavi said global leaders should help Iran dissident groups' overthrow the current regime from within.