WASHINGTON, Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Washington should establish a fund to provide direct assistance for opposition groups supporting an openly democratic government in Iran, lawmakers said.
U.S. Sens. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sam Brownback, R-Kan., introduced The Iran Democratic Transition Act to establish a program of direct assistance for the Iranian people. The measure would help bring a freely elected, democratic government to power in Tehran, the bill's sponsors said.
"The people of Iran are clearly hungry for freedom and America has a duty to stand behind them and support their cause," said Cornyn. "Their cause is just and this is the right thing to do."
Frustration with the contested election results in June that secured a second term for Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad evolved into an opposition movement challenging the clerical regime in Tehran.
The sponsors of the bill said Iran's record of human rights abuses, its pursuit of nuclear weapons and support for terrorism is a destabilizing factor in the world.
The bill calls on Washington to adopt a policy that supports an opposition movement in Iran while denying the regime the means to pursue nuclear weapons and advocate terrorism in the Middle East.
"We must be prepared to stand behind Iranians who are ready to replace a regime that rules by terror with a government that is chosen by the Iranian people, respects human rights and does not pose a threat to world peace," said Brownback.
The bill was introduced formally last week.