By David Amess
Tehran's brazen approach to nuclear negotiations has been fueled in part by its thus-far correct presumption that the West does not have the resolve to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. The West's strategic blunder is in its determination to pressure the regime into changing its behavior rather than to seek a long-term change of regime.
It is in the interest of the international community and financial markets for Iran to have a democratic stable government. This, however, cannot be achieved by foreign military intervention or maintaining the status quo as Tehran speeds up its illegal nuclear activities in defiance of the Security Council and the UN's nuclear watchdog.
The Tehran regime has realized that obtaining nuclear weapons is a strategic guarantor of its survival, and that as such it cannot abandon these activities. Iran has made clear that it has no intention of suspending its uranium enrichment despite the generous package of incentives offered to it last month by the world's major powers. Iran's government spokesman said on August 10 the Islamic Republic would not change its nuclear stance "under any circumstances."
Iran's Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, said in July that the Islamic Republic has "clearly-defined red lines" in nuclear talks with the world powers. "The [nuclear] achievement belongs to the entire Iranian nation and no power would be able to deprive it of this technology and certain right," Khamenei said.
Meanwhile, as president of the world's fourth-largest oil-exporting nation, Ahmadinejad added economic pressure to political pressure when he declared on 14 July that crude oil prices would continue to increase. Officials of Iran's Revolutionary Guards have even threatened that they could block the Strait of Hormuz, the strategic conduit where over a third of the world's oil crosses each day.
Many Western leaders shy away from serious consideration of regime change in Iran for fear of opening up Pandora's Box of troubles in its aftermath. That fear is based on a serious lack of knowledge of the state of Iranian society, and to some extent on misinformation distributed by the Iranian authorities. The reality is that the overwhelming majority of Iranians want an end to the mullahs' rule. Conditions are ripe for change to come about via the Iranian people themselves. Public resentment of Iran's theocratic dictatorship is at an all-time high; inflation topped 26 percent in July, and the regime has led a vociferous crackdown against students and women,
In short, the West's current inept policy toward Iran has led to global energy shortages and has negatively affected Western lifestyles by causing a rapid increase in the price of oil. The solution to this dangerous quagmire lies in our support for the Iranian people and their organized Resistance movement.
The People's Mojahedin Organisation of Iran, the main arm of Iran's democratic resistance movement, has been working tirelessly to spur public discontent into widespread protests against the regime. Some 5,000 acts of anti-government protests erupted last year alone.
As part of a misguided policy of appeasement, the U.S. banned the PMOI in 1997. Since then, this ban has been the greatest impediment to democratic change in Iran. In London in May the Lord Chief Justice called the proscription "perverse" and ordered the British government to lift its version of the ban. Parliament unanimously approved the order and de-proscribed the PMOI. Some 70,000 Iranians flocked to Paris in June urging the EU and U.S. to support the Iranian Resistance's president-elect Mrs. Maryam Rajavi and end the ban on PMOI.
The U.S. must follow suit and listen to their pleas. The West must allow the group to focus its entire resources on mobilising the Iranian population to bring about democratic change and transform Iran into a partner in peace.
David Amess MP, a Conservative Member of Parliament from the United Kingdom, is a leading member of the British Parliamentary Committee for Iran Freedom.