Thursday, June 08, 2006

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.

Listen to the report on VOA here.

Given the complexity of the proposed deal, as well as the deep mistrust between the sides, the talks could last years, as could the process of Iran "restoring confidence" in its nuclear activities, meaning that the enrichment freeze would also need to stay in place for years. That may be too much for Tehran to stomach. Diplomats expect that it will play for time, by seeking "negotiations about negotiations", but will reject the international offer in the end. While not setting a deadline for a response to Mr Solana's mission, the US and the Europeans want a reply "within weeks", so that national leaders can map out the strategy at a G8 summit in St Petersburg in mid-July.

At the moment, most of our leaders are trying desperately to convince themselves that there is a way out, that we can make a grand bargain, that we do not have to confront the mullahs. It is the illogic of appeasement so well described by Churchill after Munich. Chamberlain, he said, had to choose between war and dishonor. Chamberlain chose dishonor, and he got war. This is the risk our leaders are running today.

And the hell of it all is that the mullahs are terribly vulnerable, loathed by their own people, our natural allies in what is after all a political and ideological conflict. Our failure to support the Iranians’ cry for freedom is a dark stain on our banners, and worse: Our dishonor leads directly a war that we should not need to fight. We can defeat the mullahs the same way we defeated the Soviet Union, by mobilizing their own people against them, and by consistently stating and supporting our own ideals. Instead we are sending our young men and women into the field to fall alongside innocent Iraqis to whom we promised a better fate.

Reza Pahlavi called on the world to support Iran's opposition groups, which he claimed have put differences aside and united in a bid to install a democratic government and rid Iran of the clerical regime.

The fact that the U.S. added its name to the proposal, which includes an incentive package, "puts the regime in an impossible position" - a "lose-lose situation," Pahlavi said."I'm concerned that the status quo will prevail," he said. Iran "will need to take a stand with the world watching. The only question is how long it could drag out the game of confusion and suspend the moment of truth," said Pahlavi.

The current clerical regime thrives on crises, and "the only thing Mr. Khamenei is afraid of is the people on the streets of Iran," Pahlavi said, referring to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

The opposition represents "the most logical, least costly and most direct" means for peaceful regime change, he said.