Revolution in Iran is only a matter of time, Leon Panetta, the new United States defence secretary, has said as he predicted an uprising similar to those sweeping the Middle East.
Mr Panetta, who left the top job in the CIA to become defence secretary in July, said there was “absolutely” the chance that protests and demands for reform would reach Iran.
He said: “I think we saw in evidence of that in the last election in Iran that there was a movement within Iran that raised those very same concerns that we’re seeing elsewhere,” “And I think in many ways, it’s a matter of time before that kind of change and reform and revolution occurs in Iran as well.” Tehran crushed mass street protests in the wake of Iran’s disputed June 2009 re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Mr Panetta said reformers in Iran should be supported, but warned: “At the same time, we’ve got to analyse each situation to make sure that we do nothing that creates a backlash or that undermines those efforts.” Tehran has welcomed the Arab Spring of uprisings, voicing hope it would see the end of US-backed regimes in the region.
It has warned Nato and America not to interfere in the movements, saying both risked a quagmire if they became involved.
Iran’s own opposition movement remains fiercely oppressed however.
Mr Panetta said: “I think the reform movement in Iran is learning one hell of a lot from what’s happened in Tunisia and Egypt and Libya and Syria.
He added: “The fact is when people decide that that moment has come, that’s a moment when tremendous change is about to happen.” “And I think it’s true, not only in the Middle East. It’s going to be true in Iran as well.”