The leader of the Iranian opposition likens its goal to overthrow the regime in Tehran to the war for American independence from Britain, the struggle to abolish slavery in the U.S. and the birth of the civil rights movement in the 1960's.
"I am confident that the Iranian resistance, which seeks the proven values of advanced societies, will reach its goal of a free, prosperous, democratic, just and non-nuclear Iran," declared Maryam Rajavi, the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in an exclusive Fox News interview.
"The experience is out there, including in the history of the United States, such as George Washington and the people of America who decided to stand up to colonialism to gain independence, such as Abraham Lincoln and the price he paid and the war he waged to abolish slavery and the price the people of America paid during the time of Dr. Martin Luther King for civil rights and the struggle of the people of America for the freedom of women," she says.
"These are all historical experiences and I am, therefore, confident. My experience and that of the Iranian people tell us that when a people, a nation, decides to fight and pay the price for the rights it deserves, such as democracy, freedom and equality, when it decides to fight for these and pay the price, for values which shine in history of all human societies and in the progress of human society, it will certainly achieve it."
Rajavi, based outside of Paris, is the leader of the largest Iranian resistance group that opposes the current Tehran regime. She is calling for regime change, free, democratic elections, and a non-nuclear Iran. The group held a massive hours-long rally last week, in which a variety of speakers, including many prominent former U.S. government officials, also called for a democratic Iran and tougher restrictions on Tehran in advance of the looming July 20 nuclear agreement deadline.
It was Rajavi's group that first exposed the extent of Tehran's clandestine nuclear program back in 2002.
"If it weren't for the revelation of the Iranian resistance, the mullahs would have gotten the bomb right now," says Rajavi. She also says Iran should not be given the right of uranium enrichment, which is expected to be part of the agreement, despite six United Nations Security Council resolutions specifically prohibiting that.
"I believe any possibility left at the hands of the mullahs paves the way for them to quickly obtain what they want (nuclear weapons) at a time they so choose."
The Iranian government has branded the Council as a" terrorist group," a "cult," and has claimed that its allegations regarding its nuclear program have been fabricated.
In the aftermath of the Council’s rally in Villepinte, France, the spokesman for the French Foreign Ministry was quoted by the Associated Press as criticizing the group for "its violent and non-democratic inspirations," ''cult nature" and "intense campaign of influence and disinformation."
Rajavi reportedly called the comments, "a gift to the mullahs." Former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who attended the rally, told the AP that he was “ashamed” by the government’s statement.
In her Fox News interview, Rajavi rejected the Iranian government's criticism of her group, calling it "ludicrous."
"My call to the Iranian people has always been not to surrender to the religious dictatorship," she declares.
"We have an expression in Farsi that says, 'a viper never gives birth to a dove.’ No moderate will emerge from the mullahs and the clerical dictatorship. The Iranian resistance has said this repeatedly over the past 25 years, and it has been proven correct every time."
Follow Eric Shawn on Twitter: @EricShawnonFox
Ben Evansky contributed to this report.
Eric Shawn is a New York-based anchor and senior correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He anchors "America's News Headquarters" on Sundays from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. ET. and “Sunday Morning Futures with Maria Bartiromo.” He anchors frequently during the week on the Fox News Channel and reports on politics, terrorism, and foreign affairs. Shawn has provided live coverage from both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions since 1992. In 2004 he led the Fox News investigative team that uncovered new evidence in the murder of Jimmy Hoffa, based on the claims of hit-man Frank Sheeran. Click here for more information on Eric Shawn.