By PETER BAKER
Senator John McCain called on the United States on Thursday to support regime change in Iran, saying that the latest United Nations sanctions are “inadequate” and that it is unrealistic to expect the current government in Tehran to stop pursuing nuclear weapons, supporting terrorism and cracking down on its own people.
In a speech at the National Endowment for Democracy honoring Iran’s dissident Green Movement, Mr. McCain said President Obama’s attempt to talk with Tehran has been “defiantly met with a clenched fist” and that the hope that Iran’s rulers will finally negotiate in good faith “seems totally at odds with the character of this Iranian regime.”
“I believe that it will only be a change in the Iranian regime itself – a peaceful change, chosen by and led by the people of Iran – that could finally produce the changes we seek in Iran’s policies,” Mr. McCain said. The United States, he said, should “mobilize our friends and allies in like-minded countries” to help the opposition in its challenge to the Tehran government, although he did not specify how that change would be enacted.
Mr. McCain, an Arizona Republican who lost the presidential race to Mr. Obama in 2008, called on his former rival to personally invest himself in the democracy movement. “The United States has never had a president whose personal story resonates as strongly overseas as President Obama’s does,” Mr. McCain said. “If the president were to unleash America’s full moral power to support the Iranian people – if he were to make their quest for democracy the civil rights struggle of our time – it could bolster their will to endure in their struggle and the result could be historic.”