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Iran: Threats, Challenges, and Prospects for Change

Members of Congress and Experts Reinforce the IPC Call for Regime Change in Iran; IPC Releases Annual Review 2005

U.S. Newswire, WASHINGTON – On Wednesday, Feb. 15, in a congressional briefing titled, "Iran: Threats, Challenges, and Prospects for Change," the Iran Policy Committee released its Annual Review 2005. The event, held in the Cannon Caucus Room, was sponsored by representatives William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), Ed Towns (D-N.Y.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-Texas), Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.), and Eddie Bernice-Johnson (D-Texas).

In introducing the IPC Review, Congressman Tom Tancredo (R- Colo.) said: "In your hands, you have a remarkable document-the Annual Review 2005 of the Iran Policy Committee. Its colors are the hues of our flag-red, white, and blue. They remind me of colors of revolutions that painted a new Europe, whole and free from the Atlantic-to-the-Urals. I note with delight that the IPC Review would extend the growth of liberty from Europe to Iran."

Congressman William Lacy Clay (D-Mo.), opened the event and said: "The Iranian government is sponsoring terrorism, and developing nuclear weapons, meddling in the future of Iraq, and violating the fundamental human rights of their own people. The world community cannot afford to allow the Iranian mullahs to continue as a regional threat or grow into a nuclear threat. For too many years we have done nothing to help the Iranian people inside and outside of Iran in their struggle for democracy." Congressman Clay added: "I am troubled by the strategy of our government that treats the Iranian government and the Iranian opposition, the Mujahedeen-e Khalq, as equal threats to peace and freedom. There is no logic in this reasoning."

Congressman John Boozman (R-Ark.) said: "I commend the opposition; I know you are doing a great job, you have a great network."

Congressman Tom Tancredo (R-Colo.) said: "The reason the Mujahedeen-e Khalq (MEK) ended up on the terrorist watch list was a sop to the mullahs. It was something that the previous administration did to mollify the mullahs and obtain some sort of rapprochement with Iran. That was the quid pro quo. In order for Iran to take one step forward, we had to show a good faith effort and that was to place the MEK on the terrorist watch list. Now we are questioning whether or not that was a good idea. I certainly do not think it was."

Lynn Smith Derbyshire, whose brother Captain Vincent Smith, was murdered in Tehran-sponsored bombing of the United States Marine Barracks in Beirut on October 23, 1983, said that, "It was proven in U.S. District Court that the government of Iran is guilty of this murder … And yet there are no consequences." Derbyshire added, "President Bush told the Iranian people that the United States of America would stand by them when they are ready to overthrow their government. The Iranian people are ready now. The Iranian opposition is poised and ready to overthrow this evil regime. But their hands are tied. The Iranian people are not terrorists. Ahmadinejad is the terrorist."

Lt. General Tom McInerney (USAF, ret.), former Assistant Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force, and an IPC Co-Chair, examined the military option and said: "The United States has the ability to target the known nuclear sites of Iran and delay its nuclear weapons program. With such capability in hand and in the context of failing diplomacy, we should leave the military option on the table." General McInerney added: "However, military alternatives have risks, which suggest that choosing the military option should be a last resort. Prior to taking military action, it is important to begin a regime change clock." McInerney concluded: "Regime change begins when the Great Powers remove Iranian opposition groups from so-called terrorist lists. I favor removing of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq from such lists; empowering the Iranian people by recognizing their main opposition groups; building an Arab political coalition to support these opposition groups; and eroding the legitimacy of Tehran regime to point where it collapses in face of determined efforts of the Iranian people working through dissidents and exiles."

Bruce McColm, Chair of the Empowerment Committee of the IPC and former Executive Director of Freedom House, said: "Since the days of the Iranian Revolution, we in the West have viewed the Iranian people as victims of a repressive regime. Some thought the period of the Khatami presidency would usher in much-needed reforms, more respect for human rights, and a day when democracy could be established in Iran. The election, I mean, selection of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as President, should dispel this illusion once and for all. He is the logical conclusion of the Islamist Revolution in Iran.

Professor Raymond Tanter, former member of the National Security Council Senior Staff and IPC President said: "Coercive diplomacy, military action, and regime change for Iran are three options for the international community. Rather than sliding into military action as coercive diplomacy fails, it is time to consider regime change for Iran. Because the best possibility for regime change is through groups most feared by the regime in Tehran, the United States should remove their terrorist designation; in particular, the U.S. Government should remove the Mujahedeen-e Khalq and National Council of Resistance of Iran from the Foreign Terrorist Organizations list maintained by the Department of State." Professor Tanter added, "As Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice calls for increased funding to stimulate democracy in Iran, this is the time to remove the designation of the Mujahedeen-e Khalq and National Council of Resistance of Iran from the Department of State terrorist list."