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David Amess MP: Supporting Iran's internal resistance

David_amess David Amess, MP for Southend West, calls for full sanctions against Iran and the delisting of the PMOI as a terrorist organisation.

Tensions between Iran and the international community have always been over the three major issues of human rights abuses, the Iranian regime’s widespread support for terrorism, and its nuclear weapons programme. The latter two have been considered more important in recent time as the international community fears for peace and stability in the Middle East and wider world.

The issue of international terrorism is intertwined with the spread of Islamic fundamentalism. At the heart of this terrorism lies two Iranian groups, the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and the Qods force, the IRGC’s international body. We have seen this terrorism cause death and destruction across the Middle East. Since the invasion of 2003 Iraq has been the regime’s frontline in support for terrorism and spread of Islamic fundamentalism. On a daily basis the Iraqi people and coalition troops face death and injury at the hands of the Iranian regime.

Of even greater threat is Iran’s nuclear weapons programme. This programme had been hidden for 18 years until the Iranian opposition group the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) exposed it back in 2002. This left the international community needing to deal with the possibility of the world’s largest supporter of terrorism having nuclear weapons capabilities. The United Nations nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), has played a critical role in attempting to provide the world with the answer to the most significant of questions: does Iran have a nuclear weapons programme?

The answer to this question from the US Intelligence Services was yes, but it was stopped in 2003 and they have no evidence of it having restarted since. This report however contains deep flaws. Firstly, it shows a great degree of gullibility in placing great emphasis on what the Iranian regime itself has said about its nuclear program. Are we expected to accept the Iranian regime’s indications as fact? This is of course the same regime that does not allow IAEA inspectors full and uninhibited access to all its nuclear facilities. Furthermore and even more critically is the fact that even if we are to accept the US report, something remains clear, that converting a civil programme to a weapons programme for the Iranians may well take as little as 6 months. Such a situation is simply unacceptable for the international community.

The IAEA in its own reports has indicated that there remain many unanswered questions when it comes to Iran’s nuclear programme. IAEA Chief Mohammad El Baradei recently made a further trip to the Islamic Republic in order to clear up some of these issues. This is one in a long line of meetings that El Baradei has had with the Iranians over the years. This attempt to request information has been fully backed by the EU-3 over many years, who have offered considerable incentives to the Iranian regime in return for it abiding by its international agreements. Economic incentives as well as political incentives were major in all offers made to Tehran. However, the biggest incentive given to the Iranian regime was the terror listing of Iran’s democratic opposition group, the People’s Mujahedeen Organisation of Iran (PMOI).

The PMOI were used as a tool in failed attempts to induce the Iranians to do business and this sad fact remains true to this day. The same group that was able to expose the Iranian regime’s nuclear weapons programme through its extensive ties and support in Iran, was now targeted by the EU and UK to achieve success within their negotiations with the Iranian regime. This continues to be one of the most astonishing political actions taken by this British Government and its EU counterparts.

However, even with such massive intent by the EU and UK to please the Iranians in any way possible, the Iranians still continue unabated in their efforts to acquire a nuclear weapon. Years of appeasement have left the international community powerless in the face of the Iranians. However, even with so many missed opportunities and so many enormous political mistakes, options remain.

The option for success is a simple one that requires only a respect for justice and the rule of law. If the international community respects the international law that it has created in order to deal with such regimes, then we must now see a clear consensus across the world for full and comprehensive sanctions to be imposed on the Iranian regime. People say that such sanctions only affect the general public. However, to those I ask a simple question: why is it that the Iranian people, in a country filled with gas reserves, has people dying of cold as they are unable to heat their properties. This is the effect of the Iranian regime on its people, not any sanctions.

Furthermore, if the international community and specifically the UK Government and EU have respect for justice and the rule of law, then we must see both the UK and EU abide by court rulings which have ordered the removal of the PMOI from their respective terrorism lists. In December 2006 the European Court of First Instance annulled the decision to place the PMOI on the EU terror list. In November 2007, the Proscribed Organisations Appeals Commission found in favour of 35 MPs and Peers who had taken the UK Government to court over the refusal to de-list the PMOI. POAC found in favour of the 35 appellants and ordered the Government to lay an order before Parliament removing the PMOI from the UK terror list. The UK Government and the EU must now be urged by all to abide by these rulings.

Targeted sanctions coupled with a support for the Iranian people will be the perfect assistance in allowing the Iranian people to bring about the democracy that they desire, while ending the nuclear threat that hangs over the world at this moment in time. This is the option offered by Maryam Rajavi and the NCRI and this is the option that we must support.

Related link: Roger Helmer MEP advocates the delisting of the PMOI

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