Washington (AFP) - The heir of Iran's deposed monarchy predicted Wednesday that the clerical regime will collapse within months and urged Western powers not to negotiate with it.
Reza Pahlavi said that major protests which erupted in November and again this month, after the accidental downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet, reminded him of the uprising that ousted his father in early 1979.
"It's just a matter of time for it to reach its final climax. I think we're in that mode," the former crown prince told a news conference in Washington, which he lives near in exile.
"This is weeks or months preceding the ultimate collapse, not dissimilar to the last three months in 1978 before the revolution," he said.
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While exiled activists have routinely predicted the fall of the regime, Pahlavi said that Iranians could "smell the opportunity for the first time in 40 years this time."
The 59-year-old heir to the Peacock Throne, who has not been to Iran since he was a teenager, cited as evidence what he called an easing of fear among protesters and the growing distancing of self-described reformists from the Islamic regime.
In an address to the Hudson Institute, Pahlavi largely supported President Donald Trump's "maximum pressure" campaign that has sought to isolate the Iranian regime through severe sanctions, saying that past negotiations have failed.
"It has long been time to recognize that this is not a normal regime and that it will not change its behavior," Pahlavi said.
"My compatriots understand that this regime cannot be reformed and must be removed."
Iranians "expect the world to show more than just moral support. They expect not to be thrown under the bus in the name of diplomacy and negotiation."
Trump previously held out hope of negotiations but has recently said he was unconcerned with talks and ordered the killing of a top Iranian general, Qasem Soleimani.
Pahlavi, whose Western-oriented father was closely allied with the United States, has played down prospects for restoration of the monarchy.
He says instead that he wants to support a broad coalition of Iranians who will replace the regime with a secular democracy.
Asked whether he can represent all Iranians, Pahlavi said: "It's not about me, it's about the people of Iran."
"You may not like the messenger, but is there something wrong with the message?"