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UK Parliamentary delegation meets Maryam Rajavi in Paris

UK Parliamentary delegation meets Maryam Rajavi in ParisBBC 5 – This week President Bush called Iran a grave threat to national security over its continued plans to pursue nuclear weapons.

On the eve of the UN Security Council meeting to discuss the issue, a delegation of British MPs and Lords from all three major political parties are in Paris to meet Maryam Rajavi, the leader of the Iranian opposition in exile. Following talks later this morning, they are expected to issue a joint statement. But what does the British delegation actually hope to achieve? Labour peer Lord Robin Corbett is one of them and I asked him what he hoped would happen?
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Lord Corbett: The world faces a challenge from the fundamentalists in power in Iran. And they want to add to that fundamentalism, nuclear weapons. And that is lethal mix in a very explosive part of the world. And it is nobody’s interest if that happens.

Peaceful nuclear energy, yes, under strict international control. But risk of developing nuclear weapons no.

Mrs. Rajavi heads a coalition offering the people of Iran democratic change through UN supervised elections. Not force and she explicitly has said that and we agree with that. Another Iraq is not the answer to this important issue. And that is what we are here to discuss.

Q: Could you tell us a little bit more about her as a politician?

Corbett: The movement, the coalition which she heads, has been trying to get democratic change in Iran about two years after the Shah was overthrown because the mullahs moved in and imposed their brand of Islamic fundamentalism and to that extent, they stole democracy from the Iranian people. And Mrs. Rajavi and those who support the coalition that she leads want to restore that and to give people of Iran the chance to vote for it.

Q: Does she have much clout back in Iran?

Corbett: I don’t know the answer to that question but what I certainly know is that there are increasing demonstrations against the regime which is why the man, who is imposed as the President there, has behaved in such an extremist way, talking about wiping out Israel from the face of the earth, and stuff of that sort. And this is a regime which is deeply in trouble.  We should remember that about one third of population of Iran is under the age of 30. They are one of the most highly educated people in the Middle East. And they come out of universities knowing that there are no jobs. Because there are the mullahs claiming to run the economy, when they should be in the mosques. While they should let elected politicians to run the economy.

Q: what is going to be the specific items in today’s agenda then?

Corbett: We are going to talk about efforts which need to be made to persuade, persuade not only our own government but rest of the governments of European Union and Americans to that matter that they made a big mistake by naming one of the members of the coalition, the PMOI as a terrorist organization. When Jack Straw the Foreign Secretary has confessed a couple of times in recent months that this was done only at the request of the mullahs, trying to  smooth the way for negotiations with Iranians on  which we wasted three years because all it has done is to allow them to  buy time to develop their nuclear weapons program.

Q: How would you stop this from being a little more than a PR stunt though? What is going to actually achieve?

Corbett:  This is not PR stunt. I can assure you of that. This is serious business.

Q: But you come out with a statement at the end of the meeting and then what happens?

Corbett: we have got to try to get the world to understand that this mix of Islamic fundamentalism and nuclear weapons is a lethal mix which the world can do without. We have got to do whatever we can, trying to prevent that in our own interest, not let alone the people who live in the region. And the answer to that is democracy. One thing that the mullahs do not want in Iran is democracy. And that is their Achilles’ hill in that sense. And that is what we are all here to try to assist.

Q: If Mrs. Rajavi is against the idea of forced regime change, how you are going to actually affect democracy in a country that is controlled by people who do not want it?

Corbett: This is the matter of mobilizing the international community to really try to persuade the mullahs that they no longer have mass support from the Iranian people and is really to exert pressure on them not just on nuclear issue, but on their consistent human rights abuse. They gouge out people’s eyes, they amputate limps, they hang people in public, they flog them to death, and they stone them to death. This is a medieval regime. And the world community has got to say and it can do if it has the political will, up with this we will not put. We are going to have a UN mandate here, to have fair and free UN supervised elections for people of Iran to have a choice and that is what we are all about and please do not describe that as a PR stunt.

Q; Are these talks being held with the blessing of Tony Blair and are you going to take your findings to him?

Corbett: I am not sure we have his blessing. But certainly yes, We are creating all the fuss we can in both houses of the Parliament to get the government to acknowledge that they waited three years to get the mullahs to behave all human beings and now is the time to get this coalition which Mrs. Rajavi heads on the side of those who want Iran to get respect for freedom and human rights. They are our allies in this campaign.

Lord Robin Corbett, leading a delegation of MPs and peers to meet the Iranian opposition in exile in Paris.