Three experts on Iran briefed reporters today at a conference sponsored by The Israel Project. Called as a precursor to Iranian Pres. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s visit next week to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly.
All three expressed concerns about Iran’s human rights violations, its exportation of terror and its development of nuclear weapons.
Michael Ledeen, a former White House national security adviser, says Iran has been, for years, engaged in proxy wars against the United States and Israel. And is directly involved in destabilizing neighboring Iraq.
He advocates supporting the Iranian people in the overthrow of their government. He notes that 70-80 percent of Iranians strongly disfavor their government.
Lily Mazahery, founder and president of the Legal Rights Institute represents some of the most high profile political dissidents, human rights activists and victims of human rights violations around the world. Something, she say, at which Iran excels.
Mazahery says there are daily hangings and beatings of political dissidents, those charged with leaving the Muslim religion, those accused of adultery and of homosexuals.
“Not even children,” she says, “are spared” the death penalty in Iran, which she says, as the dubious distinction of being at the top of the world’s child execution list.
Mazahery says 200 people, including children, have been executed thus far this year in Iran.
Nuclear physicist Peter Zimmerman, former chief scientist of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, says it’s possible Iran can develop a nuclear bomb by the end of next year. He favors stronger :creative sanction” that he says would, “attack Iranian weaknesses.”
One suggestion: embargoing the sale of refined petroleum to Iran. Iran ships crude out, but lacks the refinement capability to satisfy the nation’s voracious appetite for oil.
He also favors disallowing Iranian teams from participating in international sporting events and kicking Iran out of the international telecommunications system including the international electronic banking system.
As for when Iran might really develop a nuclear device, Zimmerman says the world will get a warning. It will be, he predicts, the day the International Atomic Energy Agency is kicked out and Iran withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
Photo credit: Gary Baumgarten