Speech to Convention of Iranian Associations

Struan delivered the following speech to a Convention of Iranian Associations convention at La Defense in Paris on Saturday 8 February 2014.

There is one thing that never ceases to amaze me after 15 years as a Member of the European Parliament and that is the weakness of the West when it comes to dealing with Iran. The fascist government in Tehran is one of the most evil regimes in the world today, abusing human rights and using repression, torture and a spiralling increase in executions to terrorise and subjugate the people. These are typical and commonplace signs of a dangerous and cornered authoritarian regime.

Iran is like a poisonous spider, sitting at the centre of a treacherous web that seeks to extend its malign influence across the entire Middle East. They export terror. They support the murderous Assad regime in Syria and they fund and arm Hezbollah in Lebanon. They are relentlessly spreading their poisonous dominion across Iraq, where Nouri al-Maliki is their willing puppet. Saudi Arabia and Iran are engaged in a deadly scramble for spheres of influence, which has turned the Syrian conflict into a proxy war and now threatens to do the same in Lebanon, Iraq, Yemen and Bahrain.

And yet, despite the danger they pose, the West has fallen head-over-heels in love with the broadly smiling Hassan Rouhani. Indeed Rouhani is no longer smiling....he's laughing, literally all the way to the bank!

His tactics of deception have fooled the West into reducing sanctions and effectively removing any threat of military intervention and as a result, the 'Rial' has rocketed to its strongest position in years, while the Tehran stock exchange has staged a remarkable rally.

Meanwhile the West, crowing about our success in achieving meaningful dialogue with Iran, has eroded our only remaining tool with which we could have held the mullahs to account; because our main weapon in dealing with Iran is economic. But last week over 100 European businessmen visited Tehran to explore new, lucrative contracts; the Iranians have even planned a major energy conference in London this summer, when leading oil companies from the West will be encouraged to reopen contracts for oil and gas exploitation in Iran. This renewed surge of interest in commercial profits over basic human rights, has rescued the evil mullah regime from the brink of collapse.

And what has the West won in return? Of course there are some good things in the nuclear agreement; but it is a temporary stop-gap. It has actually achieved very little. It only dealt with the enrichment question. What about the Iranian military machine? What about their missile delivery systems? What about the 19,000 centrifuges? Why didn't we demand the dismantling of 14,000 of these machines? We have capped the accumulation of enriched uranium but failed to stop research and development into more advanced centrifuge technology. This does little to stop the threat of a future nuclear-armed Iran.

Indeed in a wide-ranging interview on Wednesday of this week, Dr Ali Akbar Salehi - Iran's Nuclear Chief - stated that "The entire nuclear activity of Iran is going on." "Iran can reverse its nuclear concessions (made in the joint plan of action) in a few hours" he claimed.

Rouhani is a past-master at deceiving the West. He even boasted about it during his presidential election campaign. But we continue to regard him as a moderate, conveniently forgetting that he was a Member of the Supreme National Security Council since 1989 and Secretary of that organisation for 16 years. He was one of eight hand-picked candidates for the presidency, selected by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who in any case retains the ultimate authority in Iran and can overrule anything Rouhani says or does.

The smiling President's moderate tendencies have certainly not been evident in Iran's prisons, where the gallows have been working overtime since he came to power. The clerical regime is resorting to waves of executions and suppression in order to heighten the atmosphere of intimidation in society, to contain protests and in particular to counter the rising anger of the country's youth, 5 million of whom are unemployed.

Rouhani's role is to buy time for the mullah's nuclear goals, something which he has successfully done in the past. But cleverly, he is using negotiations with the West as a means of dealing with Iran's other key strategic objectives, namely ending economic sanctions, restoring their devastated economy and maintaining support for their key ally, Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

He has deftly succeeded in fulfilling each of these objectives at little or no cost to Iran.

The presence here, today in Paris, of representatives from so many different age groups and layers of Iranian society, surely gives the lie to the claim that the PMOI has little or no support inside or outside of Iran. Every time I come to Paris for the annual mass PMOI Rally in June and address a crowd of over 100,000 ex-pat Iranians, I know that their extended families back in Iran must number millions. It is time the foreign ministries of Europe and the West stopped hiding behind this lie. The PMOI are the only meaningful opposition to the mullahs.

That is why inside Iran they have been systematically arrested, tortured and executed. Over 68,000 PMOI were liquidated in the 1980s alone, for opposing the mullahs; survivors fled abroad and 2,900 of them are still incarcerated in appalling conditions in Camp Liberty, living under a constant threat of attack, despite the fact that they have been registered as refugees. The mullahs want to annihilate them all.

They are the front line of opposition to the turbaned tyrants in Tehran, and we owe it to them in recognition of their years of sacrifice and courage to get them out of Iraq now. It is shameful that Western leaders continue to dither and delay and even question the integrity of the PMOI. They should come to terms with the fact that the PMOI is an effective, organised opposition, under the inspired leadership of Maryam Rajavi. The PMOI are our friends. The fascists in Iran are our enemies.

I Chair the Friends of a Free Iran Intergroup in the European Parliament. But Iran cannot be free until we get rid of the mullahs and their evil regime.

Silence and inaction by the West against the appalling and systematic violation of human rights in Iran, can only embolden the criminals ruling that beleaguered country. The time has come to call a halt to Rouhani's deception and wipe the smile off his face. The time has come to back the PMOI and Mrs Rajavi and to back the millions of oppressed citizens of Iran who hunger for peace and for an end to their years of nightmare.