By Rt. Hon. Lord David Waddington, QC
The Iranian Regime’s nuclear ambitions are a threat to world peace. In dealing with this threat and with the Regime’s unbridled meddling in Iraq and the Middle East, the West needs to make a strategic choice.
Iran’s mullahs have managed to remain several moves ahead of us thus far, and last August Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was able to say with conviction: “Soon, we will see a huge power vacuum in the region. Of course, we are prepared to fill the gap.”
The chairman of the United States’ Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael G. Mullen acknowledged in April that Tehran was continuing to funnel weapons and other aid to extremists in Iraq for use against Coalition troops. He highlighted in particular the “increasingly lethal and malign influence” exercised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard’s extra-territorial Qods Force, which is bent on destabilizing not only Iraq but the rest of the Middle East.
Admiral Mullen’s words were then backed up by the U.S. ambassador to the UN, Zalmay Khalilzad, who on Monday told the Security Council that the Revolutionary Guard Qods Force "continues to arm, train, and fund illegal armed groups in Iraq”. He then added, "This lethal aid poses a significant threat to Iraqi and multinational forces and to the stability and sovereignty of Iraq."
The Revolutionary Guard has also had a pivotal role in furthering the regime’s clandestine nuclear weapons program. The main opposition coalition, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), claims that the Revolutionary Guard is running a secret center to build a nuclear warhead at Mojdeh, southeast of Tehran. The Guard also supervises all uranium enrichment activity at the infamous Natanz complex.
Today, the Security Council’s five permanent members plus Germany meet in London to expand on an earlier offer of economic incentives to Tehran in return for a promise by the Regime to halt uranium enrichment.
The international community seems to be almost entirely unaware of the regime’s stated intention to pursue its atomic work at any cost, and yet Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei has been quite brazen about it. In February he boasted that Iran had gradually managed to pacify the international community’s demands that Iran comply with UN resolutions. “Those people who used to say Iran's nuclear activity must be dismantled are now saying they are ready to accept our advances, on condition that it will not continue indefinitely,” Khamenei said. “This is a great advance that would not have been realized except with perseverance."
Ahmadinejad is also on record as saying in February, "If they [the Security Council] want to continue with that path [of sanctions], we will not be harmed. They can issue resolutions for 100 years. ... If they continue [with this pressure], we have designed reciprocal actions." I fear that the “reciprocal actions” would be felt on the streets of Baghdad, Beirut and the Gaza Strip in attacks masterminded by the Revolutionary Guard.
Surely if the West is really determined to address the threat from Tehran, it needs to show some muscle rather than offer more concessions to a regime with no intention of abandoning its unlawful activities.
Most obviously, the EU and the U.S. need to lift their ban on the main Iranian Resistance group, the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran. It is ridiculous that the PMOI/MEK, a leading member of the NCRI coalition with grassroots support in Iran and for that reason feared by the Regime, should be hampered in its work as it strives to bring democracy to Iran. It is unreasonable that it should be so hampered when, as the Clinton Administration admitted, it was banned in the first place not because of American condemnation of its activities but in a futile and fruitless attempt by America to appease the Regime and reach out to so-called ‘moderates’ within it. Both the Proscribed Organisation Appeal Commission in Britain and the European Court of Justice have already ruled that the ban on the PMOI is unlawful and should be lifted. It is high time the international community gave its full backing to the body the Regime most fears, and sends a signal to the Iranian people that we support their efforts to bring about an end to the mullahs’ rule.
The Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington QC is currently Chairman of the European Reform Forum. He is a former UK Home Secretary under Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
Please e-mail PostGlobal if you'd like to receive an email notification when PostGlobal sends out a new question.