Friday, July 21, 2006

Panel Urges Iranian Regime Change

Sean Gaffney, AxcessNews:
As Iran declared Thursday it would officially respond to a Western-backed incentive package to abandon its nuclear ambitions on Aug. 22, experts told lawmakers that, short of regime change, negotiations with the Islamic republic would not yield results.

The overthrow of the mullah is the only option to quell the threat of a nuclear Iran, experts said to the Senate federal financial management, government information and international security subcommittee of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee. READ MORE

The Bush administration's policies of containment and negotiations with the Islamic republic are futile, Michael Ledeen of the American Enterprise Institute, said.

"Change the regime and the nuclear question becomes manageable," he said.

"Iran poses a grave threat to the world," Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., the subcommittee chairman, said. "Unfortunately, sanctions are not a promising option."

In a similar tone, Ledeen criticized the incentive package from the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council - the United States, Great Britain, China, France and Russia - and Germany that was offered in early June to convince Iran to abandon its uranium-enrichment program.

The U.S. needs "to abandon the self-deception that we will be able to arrive at a negotiated settlement," because the Iranians view negotiations as a tactical move to further their stated objectives of challenging the West and building a bomb, Ledeen said.

Ilan Berman, vice president for policy at the American Foreign Policy Council, recommended the U.S. follow a three-pronged approach: economic pressures, democracy promotion and public diplomacy to win the battle for Iranian "hearts and minds."

Eliminating the threat posed by an atomic Islamic republic involves changing the regime that wields the bomb, and that goal can't be accomplished without the Iranian people, Berman said.

Jim Walsh, a research associate at the Security Studies Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, urged lawmakers not to exaggerate the threat of a nuclear Iran.

"Iranian nuclear weapons status would prove costly for all parties" but would not result in the "immediate nuclear use, blackmail or transfer to terrorist," he said in prepared remarks.
The full text of the testimony of Michael Ledeen, Ilan Berman and Amir Abbas Fakhravar.