Conference on Iran: Making the case for a different path for Iran citizens

Over 622,000 Syrian refugees languish in squalid conditions just across the border from the homeland in Jordan.  They have almost nothing, they lack the most basic of possessions, they have no opportunity to work, and their futures have been robbed of them.  What they do have is time – time to think about what drove their country into madness.

While Syrian refugees are stuck, Iranian troops are on the move, 15,000 more to Syria to join the fighting against IS.  After IS’s well-publicized destruction of artifacts, torture, and mass executions, some might even be rooting for Iran and its proxy, the Assad regime.  But how can we root for a regime that tortured and killed indiscriminately and whose policies directly fueled the rise of IS?

In Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and beyond, the fingerprints of Iranian extremism have left only destruction and fueled the other side of the coin when it comes to global terror.  This same regime, whose practices on its own soil and through its proxies mirrors IS, is driving ever closer toward the world’s most dangerous weapon, the nuclear bomb.

On June 30, another crucial deadline regarding negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program looms.  Yet the discussion on this topic, which constitutes one of the greatest challenges in modern human history, has too often been silenced.  Supporters of the status quo when it comes to dealing with Iran have sidelined opponents with claims of a “frozen nuclear stockpile” and have been quick to label opponents as warmongers and extremists.

Over the past several weeks, the highest-ranking political and military officials in Iran have been steadily releasing statements saying that Iran will under no circumstances allow inspectors to access Iran’s military sites.

The regime’s leader, Ali Khamenei himself, said much the same thing in May, noting that Tehran would see to it not only that inspections be constrained, but also that no foreigners be allowed to meet with and interview Iran’s nuclear scientists.

To allow Iran to restrict inspections in this way would be the latest in a long list of concessions that includes allowing Tehran to take its ballistic missile program off the negotiating table altogether.  The Washington Examiner noted this week that Iran already has ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe, and possibly also North America, thanks in part to collaboration between the Iranian regime and North Korea.

What’s more, this collaboration is ongoing, as reported recently by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the same organization that revealed the existence of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site and Arak heavy water facility in 2002.

On June 13, those who are deeply worried by the status quo will have a chance to make a case for a different path.  The conference, based in Paris and put on in support of the NCRI, builds on the success of a 100,000-person conference last year.

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of NCRI, will continue to make the case that she made while testifying before Congress in April.  And she is not alone.

Over 100,000 participants and dignitaries from over 60 countries will join Iranian resistance, led by  Maryam Rajavi, to address the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian nuclear program.

Among those participating: a bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Congress, General Hugh Shelton (former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff), Howard Dean (former chair of the Democratic National Committee), Alan Dershowitz (renowned jurist and human rights activist), Michelle Alliot Marie (former defense and foreign minister of France), Sid Ahmed Ghozali (former prime minister of Algeria), Gunter Verhugen (former vice president of the European Commission), and many others.

These voices from around the globe gathering in Paris and echoing the recent statement by over 220 European MPs, which called for unrestricted inspections of Iran’s nuclear program, must be heard.

The voices of these leaders and world-renowned experts will also be joined by thousands of Iranians whose brothers and sisters in Iran are brutally repressed.  Their voices not only tell of the threat Iran poses, but also testify to the popularly supported democratic alternative to the Iranian regime.  It may not happen tomorrow, or even the next day, but Iran’s actions at home and across the region exposes the leadership's hardline, irrational beliefs and the importance of the alternative these Iranians represent.

So instead of sitting passively while a few government figures decide our future and the fate of billions, tune in to the conference and hear what they have to say.  On June 13, leaders on the issue will address the prospects and conditions for a nuclear agreement and what an effective policy in combating Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian regime should look like.  It’s a chance for nuanced discussion, meaningful debate, and positive change.

It’s a chance to act before it’s too late.

Ken Blackwell was formally a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

Over 622,000 Syrian refugees languish in squalid conditions just across the border from the homeland in Jordan.  They have almost nothing, they lack the most basic of possessions, they have no opportunity to work, and their futures have been robbed of them.  What they do have is time – time to think about what drove their country into madness.

While Syrian refugees are stuck, Iranian troops are on the move, 15,000 more to Syria to join the fighting against IS.  After IS’s well-publicized destruction of artifacts, torture, and mass executions, some might even be rooting for Iran and its proxy, the Assad regime.  But how can we root for a regime that tortured and killed indiscriminately and whose policies directly fueled the rise of IS?

In Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, and beyond, the fingerprints of Iranian extremism have left only destruction and fueled the other side of the coin when it comes to global terror.  This same regime, whose practices on its own soil and through its proxies mirrors IS, is driving ever closer toward the world’s most dangerous weapon, the nuclear bomb.

On June 30, another crucial deadline regarding negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program looms.  Yet the discussion on this topic, which constitutes one of the greatest challenges in modern human history, has too often been silenced.  Supporters of the status quo when it comes to dealing with Iran have sidelined opponents with claims of a “frozen nuclear stockpile” and have been quick to label opponents as warmongers and extremists.

Over the past several weeks, the highest-ranking political and military officials in Iran have been steadily releasing statements saying that Iran will under no circumstances allow inspectors to access Iran’s military sites.

The regime’s leader, Ali Khamenei himself, said much the same thing in May, noting that Tehran would see to it not only that inspections be constrained, but also that no foreigners be allowed to meet with and interview Iran’s nuclear scientists.

To allow Iran to restrict inspections in this way would be the latest in a long list of concessions that includes allowing Tehran to take its ballistic missile program off the negotiating table altogether.  The Washington Examiner noted this week that Iran already has ballistic missiles capable of reaching Europe, and possibly also North America, thanks in part to collaboration between the Iranian regime and North Korea.

What’s more, this collaboration is ongoing, as reported recently by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the same organization that revealed the existence of Iran’s Natanz uranium enrichment site and Arak heavy water facility in 2002.

On June 13, those who are deeply worried by the status quo will have a chance to make a case for a different path.  The conference, based in Paris and put on in support of the NCRI, builds on the success of a 100,000-person conference last year.

Maryam Rajavi, the president-elect of NCRI, will continue to make the case that she made while testifying before Congress in April.  And she is not alone.

Over 100,000 participants and dignitaries from over 60 countries will join Iranian resistance, led by  Maryam Rajavi, to address the rising tide of Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian nuclear program.

Among those participating: a bipartisan delegation from the U.S. Congress, General Hugh Shelton (former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff), Howard Dean (former chair of the Democratic National Committee), Alan Dershowitz (renowned jurist and human rights activist), Michelle Alliot Marie (former defense and foreign minister of France), Sid Ahmed Ghozali (former prime minister of Algeria), Gunter Verhugen (former vice president of the European Commission), and many others.

These voices from around the globe gathering in Paris and echoing the recent statement by over 220 European MPs, which called for unrestricted inspections of Iran’s nuclear program, must be heard.

The voices of these leaders and world-renowned experts will also be joined by thousands of Iranians whose brothers and sisters in Iran are brutally repressed.  Their voices not only tell of the threat Iran poses, but also testify to the popularly supported democratic alternative to the Iranian regime.  It may not happen tomorrow, or even the next day, but Iran’s actions at home and across the region exposes the leadership's hardline, irrational beliefs and the importance of the alternative these Iranians represent.

So instead of sitting passively while a few government figures decide our future and the fate of billions, tune in to the conference and hear what they have to say.  On June 13, leaders on the issue will address the prospects and conditions for a nuclear agreement and what an effective policy in combating Islamic fundamentalism and the Iranian regime should look like.  It’s a chance for nuanced discussion, meaningful debate, and positive change.

It’s a chance to act before it’s too late.

Ken Blackwell was formally a U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.