Back in 2002 the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) told the world that the Mullahs had embarked on a nuclear fuel programme and now the NCRI says it has evidence of a research site in the country where a nuclear warhead for use on Iran’s medium range missiles is being developed.
It is on a number of occasions that the NCRI has spoken of and produced evidence of Iran’s intentions and it clearly gets its information from the People’s Mojahedin Organisation of Iran (PMOI/MEK), which has substantial support within the country and a wide intelligence network.
NCRI spokesman Mohammad Mohaddessin in indicating that Tehran now has a secret command structure dedicated to acquiring a nuclear bomb referred to a number of satellite images. A guest house in a military compound near Khojir is, he said, now home to North Korean specialists working at the warhead facility.
All this casts the gravest doubt on the validity of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) assessment that Iran halted its drive to acquire nuclear weapons in 2003; and we have reason to be deeply worried not only about the nuclear intentions of Tehran, but also about the shortness of the time it may take for the regime’s nuclear ambitions to be realised.
The European Union has been conducting its own analysis, and experts have found that Iran may be capable of producing enough highly enriched uranium to build a nuclear bomb by the end of this year. This means the international community has to act rapidly if disaster is to be avoided.
If we are to find a way through the present critical situation we must first look back and learn from previous mistakes. Clearly the policy of dialogue or, as some would prefer it to be called, appeasement has failed disastrously and may have contributed greatly to the crisis that we now face.
One thing seems plain. To embark on further talks with the Regime with no conditions attached is not only an ill-advised but a highly dangerous policy. When there has been dialogue the Regime has proved itself very skilful in playing members of the international community against each other, and this must not be allowed to continue. Of course there may be a time for dialogue with Tehran, but in the current climate and with the regime’s current attitude there seems little to be gained from it right now, and I say that for two good reasons.
First, in recent weeks both the regime’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki have indicated that Iran will not halt uranium enrichment and have no intention of embarking on further dialogue on that point. Second, when there was dialogue the Regime gained time to develop its nuclear capabilities and got the West to list Iran’s largest opposition group dedicated to restoring democracy as a terrorist organisation.
There seems great irony in the fact that a group which played such a significant role in arousing the world’s attention to Iran’s nuclear threat found itself used as a tool to persuade Tehran to surrender its nuclear ambitions. However, the irony of this injustice has not been lost on a number of British Parliamentarians who felt so strongly about the injustice done to the PMOI/MEK that they took the British Government to court.
The Proscribed Organisations Appeal Commission (POAC) after 5 days of open and 2 days of closed hearing in which all classified material was assessed, found in favour of the 35 MPs and Peers and ordered the Home Secretary to remove the PMOI/MEK from the UK terror list. In an attempt to prolong the injustice done to the PMOI/MEK the British Government then petitioned the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal the POAC ruling, and a hearing has taken place presided over by the Lord Chief Justice, Lord Phillips. The decision of the Court will be announced in the next few weeks and it may mean that at last the terror tag is removed from Iran’s largest opposition group.
An end to the present critical situation will not come from further dialogue. It will come from the international isolation of Tehran and comprehensive sanctions. But sanctions must be coupled with support for the democratic ideals of the Iranian people and the removal of the restrictions presently imposed on those working to see an end to the reign of the Mullahs.
The run-up to the election in Iran on March 14 provides an opportunity to show support for the voices of dissent within the country. Certainly, when discontent within Iran is rife and growing, it is madness to hinder rather than support those working for democratic change.