Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Pahlavi Critical of West's Offer to Iran

Lisa Bryant, VOA News:
The exiled son of Iran's late shah has sharply criticized diplomatic negotiations by the West to persuade Tehran to abandon its nuclear program. Reza Pahlavi held a press conference Wednesday.

The oldest son of late Iranian shah Mohammed Reza describes diplomatic dialogue with Iran as a lose-lose situation. Pahlavi, 45, says the United States and Europeans will get nowhere in their efforts to coax Iran to abandon its nuclear program through dialogue. He says these negotiations only strengthen the hand of hard-line conservatives in Iran. READ MORE

Instead, Pahlavi says the United States and the European Union should support popular opposition within Iran as the only way to change the current government. Tehran, he says, has nothing to gain from talking with the West, except to buy time as it builds a nuclear weapon. "It simply puts the regime in an impossible position. If the regime accepts to put the seals back on the centrifuges and halt enrichment of uranium, it will have to take back the mainstay of its propaganda directed to its domestic and global Islamist allies and the ideological glue of its security forces," he said.

Pahlavi's remarks Wednesday followed reports Western officials are now asking Tehran only to suspend, rather than stop altogether, its nuclear enrichment program while negotiations continue. Those talks include new Western incentives, delivered this week by European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana, for Iran to end the enrichment.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes, but U.S. and other Western governments fear it is trying to build a nuclear weapon.

Pahlavi, whose father, Iran's last shah, was deposed in the 1979 Islamic revolution, lives outside Washington, D.C. He is one of a number of Iranian opposition leaders living in exile. Until now, that Iranian opposition has been fragmented.

But Pahlavi describes a sea change in the diverse coalition of opposition forces, which is now rallying together. "It may have been true that in the past the opposition was more divided between themselves as opposed to being opposed to the current regime. But that has changed."

Pahlavi says the only exiled opposition group that has not joined forces is the prominent, and very controversial, Peoples Mujahedeen of Iran.