The regime actively sows instability abroad and suppresses the rights and freedoms that its people desire and deserve. For these reasons, it is essential that Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon be stopped dead in its tracks.

This requires a halt to all nuclear development, not just the limited, short-term suspension that has been put in place during the talks. Iran must also provide unfettered access to all sites that are engaged in nuclear development.

However, the nuclear talks, and the prospects for a comprehensive U.S. policy towards Iran, are headed for failure due to the Obama administration’s strategic miscalculations.

An illustrative, but little-publicized aspect of Obama’s misguided policy is his approach toward the Iranian dissident group, Mujahedin-Khalq (MEK). 

The MEK is the most organized Iranian opposition movement and the one the ayatollahs most fear. 

The MEK and its allies in the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), led by the charismatic Maryam Rajavi, offer a different vision for Iran which we should embrace: secular, democratic and non-nuclear.

Multiple reports suggest that the MEK has provided intelligence to the international community on Iran’s nuclear program. It is true that decades ago, the MEK was implicated in some violent activity, but they are and always have been an enemy of a theocratic Iranian state.

And the MEK renounced violence more than thirteen years ago and laid down its weapons.

They did so partially in reliance on a promise from the United States to protect them from attack by the mullahs and their henchmen. 

Currently, some 3,000 MEK members are confined to a prison in Iraq euphemistically called “Camp Liberty.” Unconscionably, we have breached our obligation to protect them, and consequently, they are sitting ducks for the mullahs.

The dissidents, at the behest of Tehran, have been attacked by Nouri al-Maliki’s forces on seven occasions since 2009. At least 116 residents have been killed, over 1300 have been injured, and seven, including six women, have been taken hostage.

The US government entered into a legal obligation to protect each of these people; it also has the moral obligation to do so. It has utterly failed in these duties and proximately caused the death of these allies of freedom. Our government must immediately airlift all the MEK dissidents out of Iraq. 

Maybe the Iranian government believes that by positioning its latest figurehead, Hassan Rouhani, as a “moderate” it will convince the United States and its allies to look away from the slaughter of MEK dissidents and disregard Iran’s support of the massacre in Syria as well as its egregious human rights abuses at home.

I fear their assessment may be right. Our government has too often been willing to make dangerous concessions in order to reach a deal with Iran. This is not only naïve, but it is a strategic mistake and an abandonment of our humanitarian obligation towards those people we promised to protect. 

It is clear that Rouhani is no moderate. He has been an active part of the theocracy for a long time. He was Iran’s nuclear negotiator with the EU from 2003 to 2005 and later bragged about duping the West in the negotiations.

Even a U.N. human rights body announced recently that its hope of a moderate Rouhani regime had been dashed by the dramatic rise in executions in Iran. The shipment of missiles to Hamas, thankfully intercepted by Israel, and Iran’s continued support for the murder of innocent Syrians, are further proof that “change” under Rouhani is a mirage.

As long as the present Iranian government is in power, Iran must remain outside the community of nations. America and its allies must do everything possible to deter the mullahs’ ambitions to develop a nuclear bomb and impose its hegemony in the region.

The people of Iran deserve a better government, one that adheres to human rights, democracy and decency at home and abroad and that is capable of bringing about real change. 

Joining forces with the MEK and all other democracy-starved Iranians would be the best place to start. 

May 07, 2014