The Kayhan Life Interview: Dr. Firouz Naderi on Sanctions and Future of Iran


Nazenin Ansari


Dr. Firouz Naderi is internationally recognized as the man who led the Mars Exploration Program at NASA and the successful landing of the Mars Exploration Rovers: Spirit and Opportunity. Today, his voice can be heard loud and clear as an active participant in the political debate on Iran.

In a conversation with Kayhan Life, Dr. Naderi talks about the looming sanctions, the simultaneous economic, social and environment crises and why the Islamic Republic must go.  He describes how the energy, knowledge and talent of the expatriate Iranian workforce can work in tandem with the educated and bright youth of Iran to achieve strong and sustainable growth in Iran.  Dr. Naderi also addresses the need for a strategy of unity to bring about the fall of the Islamic Republic regime and the establishment of secular democracy in Iran.

Dr. Naderi left Iran in 1964 but went back for three years, working at the Iranian Remote Sensing Agency. He moved to the United States in July 1979 after the Revolution. His inability to return to his homeland has not prevented Dr. Naderi from being present on the Iranian scene, whether through philanthropic projects, mentoring young talents or participating in the political debate. In his opinion, citizens have a duty to participate in the affairs of their country, whether it be in Iran or the United States.

Dr. Naderi became publicly active thanks to the rise of social media and during the 2009 Green Movement.  When he joined Facebook, followed later by Twitter and Instagram, students began contacting him from Iran asking for his support. He explains that in 2009 the debate was more ideological: “Where is my vote?” “Where are my rights?”  He believes that the situation in Iran today is very different: “It is existential.”

His achievements have inspired millions of Iranians who see in him a role model, a brilliant mind who was driven away from Iran by its ruling theocracy but welcomed in the United States to flourish and succeed in a free, merit based society. “You cannot take laws that are 1,400 years old and superimpose them on a 21st-century super complex society,” he maintains. His “inevitable conclusion” is “the Islamic Republic has to go,” before the current quagmire can be resolved.  Not having personal political ambitions, Dr. Naderi hopes that regime change will be the result of “a groundswell of people inside.”