The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis by Alireza Jafarzadeh

Former Iranian Defense Official Ali Reza Asghari's Defection

Fox News, March 11, 2007


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Eric Shawn: In Tehran now in the search for a former high-ranking Iranian defense official. This is a picture of Brigadier General Ali Reza Asghari; he reportedly defected to the West, and he has taken many of Iranís military secrets with him. According to London Sunday Times, Asghari is being debriefed now out of a NATO base in Germany. Joining us now to talk more about what this could mean is Fox News Foreign Affairs Analyst and author of The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis, Alireza Jafarzadeh. Alireza, good to see you this morning, thanks for joining us. 

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Great to be here.

Eric Shawn: What do you think this guy knows?

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Well, Ali Reza Asghari is a senior commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards; he joined the Guards in the early eighties. He was a commander of the Revolutionary Guards forces in Lebanon known as the Lebanon Core. Then in 1997 he was appointed to the Defense Ministry, and then from 1997 until 2002 he was Chief of Inspections at the Defense Ministry. Now thatís a very interesting position, Eric, because it would give Asghari the access and a lot of information; he could go anywhere, both within the Revolutionary Guards and also the regular army. Now that period is also a very interesting period, Eric, because thatís the period that Iran was running the secret nuclear program and the Revolutionary Guards were heavily involved. It wasnít until 2002 that the main Iranian opposition, the NCRI, revealed the nuclear sites. So itís conceivable that he would also know things about the nuclear program belonging to that period.

Eric Shawn: So Alireza, so he may actually be able to now, while the UN is going to think of another resolution, shed light that we donít know about on the Iranian procurement. He was in charge and involved in procurement with Russia, China, and North Korea. So you think that he could spill the beans on whatís really been going on behind closed doors?

Alireza Jafarzadeh: It is possible that he would have enough information that could shed more light to whatever we already know. I think the fact that he actually defected is very interesting, especially the timing because this is happening at the time that there is a lot of opposition inside the country, and then I think he felt that the regime is on the defensive. There is a lot of international pressure. The sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council had its own effect, then the arrest of top commanders of the Revolutionary Guards in Iraq that happened in December and in January right before his defection. I think he felt that the regime is on the losing side and he better jump the ship before itís too late and before it sinks. 

Eric Shawn: So, Alireza, bottom line, what does this mean for us as we are about to confront Iran, certainly the Security Council?
Alireza Jafarzadeh: I think what this means is that the United States should step up pressure on Tehran, because this defection clearly indicates that the regime is vulnerable internally, not only in terms of the opposition among the population, the younger generation, who want to overthrow the Ayatollahs, but also within the system. He was very dissatisfied and there are other unhappy commanders of the Revolutionary Guards that once pressure builds up against the regime, especially the Security Council, what that means is that I think we should see imposed sanctions in terms of arms, technological, oil, and diplomatic pressure on Tehran. Pressure works, Eric, and we need to step up that pressure.


Eric Shawn: Alright, weíre out of time Alireza, maybe more can follow. Thank you, Alireza Jafarzadeh. You are the author of The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis. Thank you Alireza.

Alireza Jafarzadeh: Great pleasure, Eric.

The Iran Threat: President Ahmadinejad and the Coming Nuclear Crisis by Alireza Jafarzadeh
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