Biden: Iran leaders sow seeds of own destruction

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Vice President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that Iran’s leaders were “sowing the seeds of their own destruction” through their harsh crackdown on anti-government unrest.

“The people of Iran are thinking about, the very people marching, they’re thinking about regime change,” Biden told MSNBC when asked whether it was time for “regime change” in Iran since President Barack Obama’s effort to engage the Islamic republic had failed to make progress.

Signaling Washington was sticking to its dual track of diplomacy and sanctions, Biden insisted: “It’s time (for the United States) to reach out, demonstrate that we’re not the problem, the hand that gets rejected, and be able to have the whole world stay with us ... against the Iranian government.”

Biden spoke after Iran said it would soon hang nine more rioters over the unrest that erupted after the June presidential vote, and the leader of the opposition said such repression showed the 1979 Islamic revolution had failed.

Washington and other Western powers, harsh critics of the Iranian crackdown, are locked in a dispute with Iran over its nuclear program, which they suspect is aimed at developing nuclear weapons. Tehran says it only wants nuclear technology for peaceful power-generation purposes.

“When they acted as they did, when the first protest broke out and people were brutalized, they lost their moral credibility in their own country and around the region,” Biden said.

“Does that mean everybody who’s opposed to present regime is pro-Western? No,” Biden said. “But it means they’re opposed to the present regime.

“They’re sowing the seeds for their own destruction in terms of being able to hold onto power,” Biden said.

“We are moving with the world including Russia and others to put sanctions on them. I think that we’ve moved in the right direction in a measured way. ... We’re going to end up much better off than we would have if we’d tried to go in there and just physically change the regime.”

The Obama administration, rebuffed in its efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear defiance through negotiations, is now pressing for a new round of international sanctions against Tehran. But China has been reluctant to go along with any new measures.

Editing by Doina Chiacu