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 Feb. 23, 2007

 FDI Executive Director: Hold Islamic RepublicAccountable on Human and Political Rights


 In a symposium with Michael Ledeen, PatrickClawson, Andy McCarthy, and Steve Schippert appearing in FrontPagemagazine today, FDI Director Kenneth R. Timmerman argues thatin addition to holding the Tehran regime accountable forviolating its NPT agreements and for refusing to comply with UNSecurity council resolutions on its nuclear program, the UnitedStates should increase pressure on the regime on human rights andrelated issues.

"We should insist that Iran comply with its own signature on the International Covenant of Political and Human rights. We should enforce the huge number of judgments against top regime leaders in courts around the world for their terrorist attacks. And we should ban Iran Air from landing rights because of its systematic use to convey weapons to Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon. Anything less is just not serious," Timmerman said.

He also debunked the argument that the U.S.should negotiate with Iran, just as it did with the USSR during theCold War. "The Islamic Republic of Iran is fundamentally unlikethe Soviet Union during the Cold War for a host of reasons,"Timmerman said.

"First and foremost, they do not have an arsenal of 10,000-plus nuclear weapons. Soviet dissidents and refuseniks understood that the U.S. would engage in arms control talks with the Soviet leadership as a matter of self-preservation, and that such talks in no way implied our acceptance (with the exception of Jimmy Carter) of Soviet dictatorship.

"Soviet dissidents understood the weaknesses of the Soviet state, but they also understood the dangers that a nuclear exchange with the United States presented.

"Iranian dissidents, however, view the Islamic Republic as weak. They see the incompetence of its leaders, the fragility of its economy, its isolation on the world stage, and its military vulnerabilities. Why should a superpower bow down before the mullahs, and dignify such a weak adversary with full-fledged negotiations?

"Opening negotiations with the United States may be THE key strategic goal today of the government in Tehran. The ruling clerics are confident that they can humiliate any American president who agrees to talk with them. They will drag out such talks endlessly, to demonstrate to the pro-freedom movement that America can do nothing and more importantly, that America will do nothing to help them."

Beyond this, Timmerman argued that the UnitedStates has no need to negotiate with the Tehran regime overits nuclear program.

"Through UN Security Council resolutions, we have set out the parameters of what the Iranian regime must do to avert steadily increasing international sanctions. They can accept those conditions, shut down their programs in a verifiable manner, or suffer the consequences. The U.S. should not settle for anything less than full, unconditional compliance from Tehran. There is nothing there to negotiate.

"The same goes for Iran's involvement in Iraq, its support for international terrorist groups, and its wretched disregard for the most widely accepted standards of political and human rights. Since when has such behavior become the norm for membership in the Concert of Nations? Why should we negotiate down the standards of internationally-acceptable behavior?" Timmerman said. "On the contrary, we should hold accountable Iran's leadership for their behavior by rolling up their networks in Iraq and striking the IRGC support structures across the border [inside Iran]."

Kenneth R. Timmerman is Executive Director of the Foundation forDemocracy in Iran. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006for his work on Iran.

For more,read the complete symposium here.