Washington 3 Mar. (IPS) Reza Pahlavi, the 45 years-old former Iranian Crown Prince warned against any military operation against the ruling theocracy, but at the same time urged the international community to help Iranian opposition forces to bring democracy and freedom to their land.
Speaking at the Washington’s prestigious National Press Club, Mr. Pahlavi observed that the more than two years that Europe spent talking to the ruling ayatollahs hoping to persuade them abandoning their controversial nuclear activities were a precious time for Tehran to advance the project.
The stalled negotiations (with the EU3) gave the Iranian three years to complete the nuclear weapon
"The problem with these negotiations all along was the false assumption that the other side wants a solution to avert a crisis. Quite the contrary. Increasingly unpopular, the Islamic Republic needs an atmosphere of crisis to justify its increased militarization", he told the international media on Thursday 2 March 2006.
He was referring to the endless, anfractuous negotiations Britain, France and Germany, known as EU3 or the Big 3 engaged with the Islamic Republic since October 2003 and ended by the Europeans almost exactly two years later, after the new Iranian Government of the hard line, fundamentalist President Mahmoud Ahmadi Nezhad resumed operations at the Uranium Conversion Facility situated near the central city of Esfahan on August 2005.
The last round of the talks, held on Friday 3 March 2006 in Vienna between the two sides ended without any result, increasing the likelihood of the transfer of the Iranian nuclear crisis from the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to the United Nations Security Council after the Agency’s Board of directors meets on 6 March.
"Unfortunately we were not able to reach an agreement", French Foreign Affairs Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy told reporters after meeting with Iranian negotiators for just over two hours, adding that the European Union had been demanding "full and complete suspension" of Iran's uranium enrichment and related activities.
"The stalled negotiations (with the EU3) gave the Iranian three years to complete the nuclear weapon. Another three years with the Russians under the IAEA buys them enough time to make the bomb", he pointed out, confirming indirectly the West’s suspicions that the ayatollah are after the atomic arm, despite their claim to the contrary.
He was referring to the Tehran-Moscow talks over a European-American supported proposal by the Russians to enrich uranium in Russia for Iran.
The last round of talks was held in Moscow on Wednesday, with the two sides declaring satisfaction. However, while Tehran insists that it wants uranium be enriched on its soil and in its installations, the Russians are saying “niet”.
According to analysts, Iran accepted the Russian proposal in the hope to prevent the IAEA referring its case to the UN Security Council that might impose economic sanctions.
However, he warned against military interventions, stressing that such a move might strengthen the grip of the clerical-led establishment over the nation.
Instead, the son of the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi who was toppled in 1979 by the Islamic Revolution led by the late Grand Ayatollah Rouhollah Khomeini, called on democratic nations to support opposition groups inside and outside Iran to increase pressure on the nation's ruling Islamic clerics.
Pahlavi also opposes punitive measures such as economic sanctions, instead urging steps such as freezing assets and restricting travel for the ruling clerics.
"Let me repeat: a military strike may delay the bomb by two or three years, but it will delay democracy several times over. It is not smart choice, and no way to win the race", he told United Press International’s Claude Salahani.
A military strike, said the shah, will rally national sentiments, which will work to the regime's advantage, and consequently give the theocracy a much longer lease of life. "Make no mistakes about it; the question is what comes first in Iran: democracy or nuclear weapons? The race is on!
Warning the world about Iran's desires to pursue its nuclear program, the young Pahlavi said that the West had basically a three-year window of opportunity before the Islamic republic acquired the nuclear bomb.
“Like all totalitarian systems, the Islamic regime in Tehran needs to expand in order to survive”, he added.
As long as the Islamic republic remains in power, the Bush administration's project for democracy in the greater Middle East may falter. And any attack on Iran may actually pave the way for Iran's expansionism, believes the shah, who lives just outside Washington, in Northern Virginia.
The Middle East's "Bermuda Triangle" running "from Iraq to Lebanon to Palestine is being taken by Iran's allies through the ballot box", said Pahlavi. It could pull in the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and when it does the same to the Shi’ites of the oil-rich eastern province of Saudi Arabia, the encirclement of the Persian Gulf will be complete.
Islamists, said the young shah, "will have achieved what the Soviets could not, namely taking complete control of the Persian Gulf oil and the jugular of Western economies."
But far more worrisome, is what the shah said would come next... "They (the Islamists) would have a latter day Caliphate to lead all the forces that are against the post-Cold War vision of the free world."
a military strike may delay the bomb by two or three years, but it will delay democracy several times over.
Pahlavi believes that all the Islamic Republic needs in order to achieve its goal is to use low intensity violence to supplement its financial, the intelligence and organizational support for its allies. "That, ladies and gentlemen," said Pahlavi, "is why Iran needs the bomb."
For the free world, these are unacceptable outcomes, Pahlavi stated.
"The race against time is crucial", cautioned the shah. But he stressed that neither of the solutions currently on the table -- continued diplomatic pressures or a U.S. military strike -- are viable options.
"We can liberate Iran ourselves", the Prince told a receptive audience. Addressing the West, particularly the Europeans, he asked them to stop making deals with the clerics. Turning to Iranians in the audience, he pleaded, "Let’s move on. No more hiding behind masks".
Speaking of some “marginal groups” and “diehards”, Mr Pahlavi appeared to rule out a rapprochement with the opposition Mojahedeen Khalq Organisation. Known as the MKO, the Islamist-Stalinist group that was financed, equipped, armed and supported by the now toppled Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein fought against his father’s rule before turning against the current regime, and are designated a terrorist group by the US and Europe.
But the problem for him, who wants to be a “coordinator” of all Iranian opposition groups excluding the much unpopular MKO is that there are plenty of dissidents but few real organisations, except on paper, and even those letter head opposition groups are badly divided between themselves, including the monarchists. ENDS IRANIAN UNITED 3306