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BBC World Service Interview with Howard Dean

Howard DeanReporter: US vice-president? Joe Biden? says he is prepared to engage in direct talks with Iran over its contentious nuclear program but only if Iranian were serious. Meanwhile in Paris? dignitaries from across the world have been meeting to discuss regime change in Iran. Howard Dean is there. He is the former chairman of US democratic national committee and he ran for the 2004 democratic presidential nomination. I asked him first about Mr. Biden’s comments.

Howard Dean: It is always a good thing to talk? but I will be very much against lifting any of the sanctions? I think the sanctions got to be stronger. Talking with Iran in the past has provided absolutely nothing. So? while I am always willing to talk? I think we have to assume that they are going to talk in bad shape as they have in the past.


Reporter: Mr. Biden is willing to talk? but you are in Paris to engage in regime change. That is a contradiction sir.


Dean: I think ultimately Mr. Biden would agree that regime change is absolutely necessary. This is religious dictatorship; it killed hundreds of thousands of people. They are certainly not going to change their stripes. So? again I never opposed the talking? but it would be a terrible mistake to talk and ease up on them at the same time because we know that doesn’t work. Chamberlin proved you cannot appease dictators. I would hope there is a difference between talking and appeasement.

Reporter: If it is serious talking when you can’t actually get rid of the regime.Mr.Biden said that he was ready to talk to the Iranian if they were serious? so they could argue the same thing.

Dean: I am skeptical about talking with Iran could produce anything; it hasn’t worked in the past? they continue to work on nuclear bombs. So? I wouldn’t contradict the vice-president of the US but I am very skeptical? it wouldn’t work. In the long? anything that leaves this regime? this dictatorship in place is bad for the Iranian people and is very bad for the world. These people are sponsoring terrorism everywhere. They killed thousands of American and hundreds of thousands of their own people. I do believe that after you have to talk to your enemy? but do not make any mistake. They are our enemy.

Reporter: But what is there in it for them? Why should they engage in talking?

Dean: The Iranian should engage in talk if you ask them? but once again it postpones actions so that they can continue to work on nuclear weapons. That is exactly what I think they will do. That is why I believe if vice-president wants to engage in talks? I have no objection as long as the sanctions are tightened instead of weakened. I don’t want any loosening of sanctions while they talk because that exactly what the Iranians are hoping to do and that successfully has done in the past.

Reporter: What specific changes do you want to see in Iran?

Dean: The change actually most about is that they would abandon all efforts to create nuclear weapons and they allow everything to be inspected. That is the bottom line. There is no point in talking if they don’t agree to that. There is nothing to talk about? and ultimately of course I like to see free election in Iran. I like to see a constitution where the rights of women are protected and where there is religious freedom.

Reporter: Do you think a conference like the one you have been engaging in Paris would provoke change in Iran?

Dean: What I believe is there needs to be an alternative to present government. The conference that we are in now may provide such an alternative. Our purpose is the same as the foreign policy of the US. Our purpose is to make sure that Iran does not get the bomb? and that Iran becomes a democratic society.

Reporter: You of course think about the Arab spring in the last couple of years. The spread hasn’t got to Iran. Would you want to see a similar revolution? if you like? to Iran?

Dean: It did actually get to Iran in 2009. It was brutally supressed where tens of thousands of people murdered by the brutal dictatorship. So? we expect that will eventually happen again. None of us here are interested in having the US go to war in Iran. Although I think if they get a bomb? it would be inevitable. We are interested in democratic government in Iran. In order to do that? you need to get rid of the one that is there. That will happen internally? not with the US military pressure.

Reporter: But you never know what you are going to get to replace it? if anything better.

Dean: Other than North Korea? this regime is the most anti-human rights in the world and including North Korea? Iran is by far the most dangerous country in the face of the Earth because of its government. They are supporting Assad; they are providing support for terrorism in Lebanon and Israel. This is the most dangerous country in the face of the earth and the most dangerous government and it is an illegitimate government.

Reporter: Mrs. Maryam Rajavi ? the Iranian politician? President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran? suggesting that the regime is on its last days. Do you have any evidence of that?

Dean: Well? there are some knowledgeable people who said that as well. I don’t think it is us to decide that it is on its last day? who knows? but we have to be prepared for different government in Iran. We have to do what we can without engaging in military action. The problem is that this Iran develops nuclear weapons; I think the US will be striking military action.

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