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Iran-UK: No justification to keep Iran’s main opposition in terror list – Lord Corbett

Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, Chair of the Labor Peers GroupNCRI – As the joint chair of the SYMPOSIUM OF PARLIAMENTARIANS & JURISTS in London on November 29, Lord Corbett of Castle Vale, Chair of the Labor Peers Group underlined a change of attitude towards the clerical regime in Iran within the British government. In light of recent developments in Iran and Ahmadinejad’s appointment as mullahs’ president with ultra fundamentalist views which has been the result of disgraced policy of appeasement, he stressed that there is no justification to maintain the People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran, the main opposition to the clerical regime, in the terror list.
The following are excerpts of his address to the symposium:
It’s been more than 25 years since the coalition led by the NCRI has kept open the road to freedom for human rights in Iran, and the Iranian people I think can sense a change in the air. I really do think that in the months since that pretend president was placed in that job, that there is a breeze gathering and it is the job of the NCRI and the brave people inside Iran who campaign at great risk for human rights and democracy to come together to turn that breeze into a gale that can put the mullahs out of office.
Things cannot go on like they are going on in Iran. I suspect that even the mullahs themselves know this. There are signs of change. Small signs of change, some contradictory, even within this (British) government. When the foreign secretary, Jack Straw was invited on the 1st of November by a supportive colleague Brian Binley, the Member of Parliament for Northampton South to a considered discussion with groups opposed to the Iranian regime, even though the internal regime change remains an option for Iran and given all that’s happened in the last few weeks, listen to what Jack Straw had to say in respect of this. Now he wasn’t just caught off guard, he knew this was coming.
Just listen to this. "Regime change in Iran is not part of government policy of her Majesty’s government." This gets worse. "Nor do I think it would be wise." Three years after as has been said, the mullahs have led the EU-3 on a merry dance, while they progressed slowly on the road to having nuclear capability to produce nuclear weapons, that’s what we get. No support for those who want to change one of the vilest regimes left in the world in the 21st century. And that’s what our Foreign Secretary says. Now either he didn’t leave his brain in the Foreign Office or his mind was somewhere else. Now happily, just over the road from where he works, the Prime Minister lives and works. He said something different and more encouraging. When he met the House of Commons Liaison Committee (these are the people who chair the select committees and other bodies) he was asked about Iran and he said "if Iran was to produce nuclear weapons then I think it would pose a very serious threat to world stability and peace. I do not think there is any doubt about that at all". He then went onto elaborate that there are three issues that worry me. "There is their nuclear weapons capability". That’s an interesting phrase isn’t it? Nuclear weapons capability! I hope Jack Straw reads this. He’s never said that. He talks airily about nuclear development. "Nuclear weapons capability and their refusal to cooperate with the International Atomic Energy Authority, their support for terrorism around the world and there is there meddling in Iraq". Now it doesn’t come much crisper than that does it?
"On each of those issues, we have real genuine cause for concern" and then he adds, and I hope Mr Straw is listening, "It may well be that change in Iran comes from within ultimately. But it is a concern and a worry for us as Iran is a powerful country with endless resources at their disposal." This is not an endorsement of what the Foreign Secretary said. Not only regime change not being the policy of the government but that it would be "unwise". This is a much clearer statement. Has the penny dropped?
I take hope from those words because certainly as far as the Prime Minister is concerned there was no surprise that he was going to be asked about it and I take great heart from that. I hope he will communicate this to the Foreign Secretary that his view has changed. Because I think that there are those who look at what has happened in these past few years and the attempted negotiation with the mullahs and seen that it’s the road to nowhere. But it’s a dangerous road to nowhere because as I said earlier you have given them three years to inch their way up that road to nuclear weapons.
Just as your hopes are raised that the Prime Minister has learnt his lesson from what the mullahs have done, the ‘Financial Times’ on the 28th reported that the EU Foreign Ministers have written a letter to Tehran suggesting that they open talks on their nuclear weapons program. What does it take to put sense and reality into the heads of these people, how much more humiliation do they want? It belies belief! They backed away from the International Atomic Energy Agency Committee meeting at the end of last week. They actually backed away from a move to take Iran’s file to the UN Security Council. Now what happens to it when it gets to the UN Security Council is another story. That’s not the point, surely the point is that after the Iranian regime has broken every agreement its made with the EU-3 on its nuclear weapons programme. The point has to be made to those in Tehran, still hell bent on doing this that action is going to follow via the UN Security Council or attempted action. In other words, you cannot just leave it alone and send another letter and just say come on guys lets get together again and see if we can iron this thing out.
All the evidence is there, that they do not want to make change, that they will not keep their word, they have lied about their nuclear weapons development programme right from the word go. All the evidence is that they are going to continue to do that. So as I say, I think there are the ingredients here for change. Certainly evidence from inside Iran itself shows that the millions of young people that are well educated, proud of their country, coming out of University and straight to the dole queue. Because whatever else the mullahs might be good at they are not goof at running the economy. Its millions of young Iranians whose future they hold in their hands, that they are destroying.
There is a heartening bit in one of the papers yesterday that they have trouble with the web logs in Iran. Isn’t this dreadful? They estimate here, that there is an estimated 100,000 active blogs written by Iranians within the country and across the diasperer. Persian ties with French as the second most common blogging language after English. This is something they cannot stop. This is impossible to stop. They can fire people, they can flog them, I heard 124 lashes for writing a blog that featured satirical cartoons of Iranian politicians. There’s democracy in action. They cannot stop this!
This is a situation that I say is promising for change and the NCRI with its supporters are working to secure this change. I just have to say this to my colleague Lord Treison who is our man in the Foreign Office in the House of Lords and to Jack Straw that there is a very simple question to be asked of the PMOI. Why is it that they are sitting in the deserts of Iraq rather than the coffee bars of Tehran? They would rather be at home obviously, so why are they there? Why have they given up everything to try and secure democratic change in Iran? You don’t make those types of sacrifices lightly, then to be tarred with this terrorism brush.
My Lord Trieson gave me a sticky answer last time when I asked him a question about this back then about the PMOI. I have written to him and I have said that I want to see the evidence that there is in the FCO on which they have based this decision. He has not done this, but I will go across and I will also take the answers with me. Because we all know what the allegations are. Now I am determined to do this so we can see this. This has all been done in secret right from the start of the terrorist proscription.
Jack Straw told me in a private conversation that the only reason why the PMOI were put on the list was because if he didn’t put that group on the list then he couldn’t put a couple of others. That is the extent of it. The PMOI is not active in the United Kingdom it also says there is no record of any threat to the United Kingdom from the PMOI. This is why we absolutely insist that this proscription be changed.