Governor Bill Richardson, former Energy Secretary and US Ambassador to the United Nations, was among dozens of distinguished speakers addressing a Paris conference on Iran on February 26. “On February 14, where the people of Iran rose up, they didn’t say they wanted reform, they wanted a new government and regime change,” said Gov. Richardson. “I was one of those that felt that it is important to dialogue with your adversaries but finally this has shown not to work with Iran.”
The conference was attended by Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, President-elect of the Iranian Resistance, and distinguished international personalities.
Excerpts from transcribed text of his speech follow:
You know I have heard representatives from great nations today, from Germany, France, Jordan, Austria, Ireland, Italy, the European Union, San Marino, and Bangladesh. I may have missed some. So the answer is: where is America?
I want to just tell how proud I am to be with so many distinguished international panellists, but also with a group of American leaders, republican and democrat, that have enormous credibility in the United States. Mrs. Rajavi, thank you for assembling this great group of, not just panellists, but audience members who are here.
General Jones said that this is the time for statesmen and he also said this is not a time for politicians. I am a politician, but I want to say to you that there are 3 kinds of politicians.
The first politician is the one that tells you how bad things are and if you elect them, they will change how bad things are.
The second group of politicians tells you how good things are and if you re-elect them, things will stay very good.
The third group of politicians is one that tells you the truth.
I believe that our panellists here, very much, with no exception well maybe a couple — are in that category. And I am going to tell you what I feel right now. When I walked in, the senator from Romania, he looks like a real senator: white hair, strong, big guy, said this sounds like a political rally when you are clapping so strong. I sense that this is the end, I sense, of a political campaign where you pick up that there is a lot of momentum on your side, things are going good, you are not quite there yet with victory but things are moving in the right direction. In America they say “with momentum”, the tide is moving you away, and I feel the movement that is represented here by Mrs. Rajavi and by you. History is on your side!
And I attended just think since January 25 what has happened, that’s when a similar event took place in Brussels, January 25, maybe a month ago. What has happened since then? Enormous turmoil and change in the Middle East, Tunisia, Egypt, change in leadership, Bahrain, Libya, so much dramatic up lifting of people wanting democracy, women, young people but every kind of people.
And in Iran, a momentous event on February 14, where the people of Iran rose up and the leadership, the regime, tried to repress them, but what the people of Iran were saying on that day was: they didn’t say they wanted reform, they wanted a new government and regime change.
What happens since January 25, that day I mentioned, the Istanbul talks, in which the western countries and America met with Iran to see one more time if Iran was serious about limiting and negotiating on the enriched uranium, the nuclear weapons. Iran wasn’t serious. They said: “we don’t know this is a topic of discussion” and the negotiations ended: A total failure.
And those, and I was one of those that felt that it is important to dialogue with your adversaries but finally this has shown not to work with Iran. What else has happened?
Executions of very brave Iranians, the repression in that nation continues, but there is a bubble of democracy about to explode and so it turns to what has happened in the international community, the European Union has taken a strong position in delisting the MEK and they have to be commended.
What else has happened? Many international human rights leaders have taken that position. And so I guess the answer is what about America? What about the United States? And I will say to you, if we take these positive steps, the fight may not be over, we may need to do many other things, but clearly, clearly, delisting the MEK is something that is good for the Iranian people, and I will say for the security of the United States.
The first, there are no terrorist links in the MEK.
Secondly, the MEK has provided valuable intelligence information on nuclear development to America.
Third, what you are seeing is an MEK that is representing the aspirations of the Iranian people, not just in Iran but around the world. And it is important that America takes that position on behalf of people.
Now, secretary Clinton has openly and publicly associated America with the demonstrators in Iran. She has done that. The president of the United States has spoken out on Egypt, on Libya, on Bahrain, but at the same time there are still some specific steps that need to be taken, one is the delisting and so you are saying okay, well since you have such very powerful people here in America, why haven’t you done it? You will probably say: where is the action?
Well, bureaucracy is slow and the third challenge that we have besides Camp Ashraf, besides delisting, is that in America, many people don’t know about this issue, policy makers don’t know about this issue. The average American probably doesn’t know about this issue. They know there is repression in Iran but the practical steps of correcting it, delisting and dealing with the problem of Camp Ashraf is not known.
So forums like this and activism on your part is very important, and the fact that you are here on a Saturday afternoon in beautiful Paris shows that you have that commitment.
And so I close with the following view. As a politician in the third category, most of the time, I want to say that Senator Torricelli is laughing: he knows me too well, way in the back, he is a wonderful political leader.
Governor Dean, you will hear from him, he ran for president, he did a great job, but you are also going to hear from Governor Ridge, a very strong Republican leader.
The answer is that there is bipartisan support, both parties want to see that happen. I am optimistic and I want you to leave this session feeling good because I think momentum and the tides of history, and all you need to do is to turn on your TV and hear about a repressive leader leaving. Hopefully tonight we will hear about the one from Libya leaving.
And so I thank you for your time, je suis très enchanté d’être ici.