Ambassador John Bolton
My greetings to Madam Rajavi and all the attendees at the event. I’m very sorry I’m not there with you, but I certainly promise that I will be visiting Ashraf-3 later this year and am looking forward to it. And this is an important event. For decades, the MEK and the NCRI have helped inform everyone outside of Iran on critical subjects like the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, the activities of the Revolutionary Guards, and especially the Quds force.
Through publications and conferences, new information provided by the MEK and the NCRI and their supporters inside and outside Iran have been critical to the international debate about how to handle the threat from Tehran. I’m unaware of any material information in all of this publicly released data that has ever been proven to be wrong. And really, the amount of information that has been put out has only troubled the mullahs in Tehran because that is a real threat to their power. This is a critical time for the regime in Tehran and its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. It’s my view that the regime is weaker now than at any point since the revolution of 1979.
And I think that’s been a pattern that’s been really growing day by day. Many people in the west don’t know about the difficulties that the regime is in because reporters often don’t leave Tehran. But we can see that the economic hardship, the inflation, high unemployment, and discontent are rampant throughout the countryside among the farmers, the small business people. All segments of the population are impacted. It’s not concentrated among the educated middle classes as It was in the urban areas in 2009. Demonstrations led by the MEK and others have made it plain for those with eyes that the average Iranians around the country realize that the problem is the regime itself. They also understand how the regime controls so-called elections. Ebrahim Raisi’s victory to be president was ordained by the mullahs. They left nothing to chance this time.
But there is a viable alternative, the alternative that the MEK and the NCRI are working inside Iran to create. Here’s the key point. US efforts to get back into the Iran nuclear deal have given the regime in Tehran a lifeline both in terms of political legitimacy and economic security. This alone is directly contrary to American national security interests as well as those of our allies in the region, and it is certainly counter to the interests of the people of Iran. In the hands of the Biden administration, right now, these negotiations amount to a policy of appeasement, and it will not work.
Look at the political legitimacy aspect that this authoritarian regime, which launches terrorist attacks against its neighbors in the region and threatens terrorist attacks around the world, is given. It is given a presence on the world stage that it does not deserve and could never earn itself. And from the perspective of economic legitimacy, we’ve seen the administration in America weaken its own sanctions, encouraging others to ignore them as well. This has been true, especially with China, that has benefited from substantial purchases of oil that should never have gone to China and with the possibility of Chinese investment in the regime’s oil infrastructure. We see it as well with government representatives in Moscow negotiating with the Russians to sell them Iranian-produced drones and to consider how to coordinate their activities in the hydrocarbon sector since they’re both under sanctions. And yet, despite any number of US Concessions, these negotiations on a possible reentry into the JCPOA may finally be coming to an end. And it’s critical that it stopped because if we ever allowed the sanctions to be lifted and the frozen assets to be returned, this is something that would benefit the regime in ways that you can’t even calculate simply in dollars and cents. There’s a direct correlation between the nuclear program and the regime’s survival. So if the deal fails, the regime’s economic lifeline also disappears. More sanctions and more effective enforcement of sanctions become critical. If we’re ever going to get back to a maximum pressure campaign.
Iran has the government has two remaining demands that I’m still afraid the Biden administration may give into. One is to commit that no future US. Government ever reenters the deal. Now, this is a demand that’s simply impossible under America’s constitutional structure. But I’m not going to argue the constitutional point here today.
I just want to make it clear not only to the mullahs in Tehran, but to businesses and economic interests all over the world, in Europe and the United States in particular. The first is that every responsible Republican candidate for president has said that if they are elected in 2024, the United States will again withdraw from the nuclear deal. So there’s going to be a very short window if politics proceed in the United States the way they appear. But even for those who might think of taking advantage of that short window to do business with the mullahs in Tehran, I just want to let them know, and their boards of directors and shareholders should know as well, that we’re going to be watching very carefully who tries to slip in and do business if the deal ever comes back into force before it gets canceled again. And for all those businesses who think there may be a short-term profit, I want them to know that their names will be mud for many Americans.
Now, the second Iranian deal is they want the Revolutionary Guards taken off the list of foreign terrorist organizations. I’ve heard from several people that it was actually the Biden administration itself that suggested that delisting the IRGC might be a possibility. I can’t speak for the truth of these reports, but I would say next year it’s something Congress should very much investigate, as they should investigate the entire course of the Biden administration’s handling of these negotiations. The revolutionary guards are a terrorist organization, not just through the Quds force, but externally with their threats in the region, their threats in western Europe and the United States, they’re terrorists within Iran too. But no organization, even an armed force in an authoritarian society, is a monolith, and communications with dissident elements inside the revolutionary guard, I think, is something that the United States and others should support. And let me be clear, and I’ve said this to this group before; my feeling about it is stronger today than it’s ever been. It should be the declared policy of the government of the United States to allow the people of Iran to govern themselves. The regime in Tehran needs to be overthrown, and sooner rather than later. It’s time to reject any policy of appeasement toward the regime of the mullahs.
There’s no evidence whatever that they’ve ever made a strategic decision to give up their pursuit of nuclear weapons. In fact, we know that it’s their strategic policy that having that capacity is a tool of coercion within Iran itself against their neighbors in the region and worldwide. The regime itself is the threat of its record on nuclear programs. It’s international terrorism, and domestically cannot be allowed to stand. Far more can be done to assist the efforts of the MEK and the NCRI, all legitimate opposition groups, and to restore representative government and the rule of law in Iran.
So again, I just say I’m sorry I’m not there with you today, but I’ll say this, we will meet again in a free Tehran. Thank you very much.