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Son of Late Shah Still Fighting to Bring Democracy, Reform to Iran

It has been 23 years since Islamic revolutionaries overthrew the Shah of Iran, replacing him with the Ayatollah Khomeini and declaring Iran an Islamic Republic. The son of the late Shah is still fighting to bring what he says is true reform and democracy to his homeland.

Reza Pahlavi was 18 years and training in Texas to be a fighter pilot when when his father, the Shah, was driven from power.

He has spent the past 23 years living mostly in the United States after watching most of his family's fortune disappear because of bad investments and embezzlers.

But that has not stopped him from his mission of getting rid of what he sees as a corrupt Iranian regime that has plunged many people into poverty and uses terrorism as part of its domestic and foreign policies.

"The regime is not to be trusted, this regime has its own agenda, it is not committed to peace, it is not committed to stability, it is not committed to the welfare of the Iranian people, it is only committed to its own survival and it will stop at nothing, even if it means using a nuclear weapon, to survive," Mr. Pahlavi said.

Mr. Pahlavi has called the affairs of Iran his his life and passion -saying it has nothing to do with the deposed monarchy, but with the Iranian people and their right to self-determination.

He uses regular satellite television broadcasts from Los Angeles to encourage civil disobedience to cripple the Iranian government.

Mr. Pahlavi has said young Iranians are taking action, braving the streets of Tehran and other cities, risking their lives every day.

"The 50 million youth of Iran want secularism, freedom, economic opportunity, and modernity," Mr. Pahlavi said.

Mr. Pahlavi said very little has come out of the 1997 election of reform-minded President Mohammed Khatami. "I don't see any positive development because in reality, the final words remain in the hands of the supreme leader who every single time has his final word," he said.

Mr. Pahlavi said when President Bush' lumped Iran with Iraq and North Korea as part of an axis of evil, the United States for the first time made a clear division between the people of Iran and the ruling regime.

Mr. Pahlavi has urged the White House to make more comments supporting the Iranian people, but says the United States should not hold what he calls a meaningless dialogue with Iranian leaders.

President Khatami has said he wants to reform Iran within the spirit of the Islamic revolution, but Mr. Pahlavi said he believes the Iranian people want a complete change of government that respects freedom and recognizes human rights.

"The people of Iran are committed to peace and prosperity. This is a cause I believe in and I am committed to see to its fruition even if it were at the expense of my life," he said.