Thursday, March 12, 2009

Look Beyond Iran's Nuclear Program, Urges Former Crown Prince

Reza Pahlavi, the former crown prince of Iran, urged the Obama administration today to focus on the "lack of political freedom and human rights" in Iran in its ongoing review of policy. His remarks at the Nixon Center in Washington were, in effect, an appeal to the new administration not to concentrate solely on the major security issues involving Iran—its nuclear program, alleged support for terrorism, and regional power ambitions.

Pahlavi, son of the late shah of Iran, acknowledged that sentiment in Washington for launching a dialogue with Iran's hard-line rulers is growing. But the administration should also "open a line of dialogue with the democratic opposition," he said.

Pahlavi lives in Maryland and remains an active presence among Iranian exiles in the United States and Europe who oppose the Shiite cleric-led government in Tehran, which took power in 1979 after a revolution that deposed his late father. He spoke of the continuing "quest for democracy" in Iran, adding, "We seek a secular alternative."

The 48-year-old Pahlavi brushed aside a question about whether he has any interest in returning to Iran someday as a leader. "That's not the issue here," he replied. If democratic change arrives at some point, he said, "Yours truly, as an Iranian citizen, will be at the service of his country."

U.S. News & World Report
Thomas Omestad