News Now, April 1, 2017 - Making his address for Nowruz (the Iranian New Year ) in Tirana, Albania, John Bolton, the former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. appeared on the stage and Speaking to members of the People’s Mojahedin of Iran (PMOI/MEK), the National Council of Resistance, and guests from Albania, France and United States, he expressed delight to be among the Iranian opposition members in the great country of Albania. The following is the full text of his speech:
Thank you very much. Thanks to Bob Torricelli for that very kind introduction. I am delighted to see all of you here in Albania, delighted that you’re all here in Albania. Glad to meet with you here and I have every confidence that one day we will meet again in a free Iran. I want to extend my sincere thanks to the government of Albania, they have made a humanitarian and gracious decision to grant asylum to all of you after the hardships, and even the tragedies you suffered at Camp Ashraf and Camp Liberty. This asylum obligation and commitment by the government of the United States to protect the people of Ashraf, I have to say we’re all sorry that we didn’t do a better job, but we’re delighted that the outcome has been what we see here today, and we thank Albania for that decision.
Don’t thank me, thank Albania.
And now I have a few words for the mullahs in Tehran. The golden era, or what they call the golden era, in relations with the United States is over. This is the first Nowruz celebration that I’ve had the privilege to participate in, but I can tell you that sixty days ago, in Washington, we had a kind of Nowruz too. You know, it is vitally important that the whole world understand that American policy on the mullah’s regime, their support for international terrorism, and their nuclear weapons program has fundamentally changed. Certainly there are details that still remain to be worked out, that need to be articulated, but the notion that this regime in Tehran has legitimacy, that its word can be trusted, that it will honor its commitments, those illusions have been swept aside.
The threat of nuclear proliferation which the mullahs represent is one of the most dangerous aspects to liberty and freedom around the world that we can imagine. The idea that a deal with a regime like that will either slow them down or certainly stop the nuclear program was misguided from the beginning. I think when he was a candidate, Donald Trump made it very clear, and this is after all the man who wrote the book, called “The Art of the Deal” described as one of the worst deals the United States had ever made in its diplomatic history. And that deal is, the ayatollahs are on notice that that deal has very limited lifespan. We’ve already seen the change in policy manifest itself on Secretary of State Tillerson’s recent trip to Japan, South Korea and China. It may seem a long way from Iran but the message was very clear, and he delivered it in South Korea with respect to the North Korean nuclear weapons program, when he said that “past policy of so-called strategic patience is over and finished”. When it comes to nuclear weapons, there can’t be no patience with their spread. And I think given what we know about the relationships between North Korea and the mullahs’ regime, their cooperation on ballistic missiles programs, their cooperation on the nuclear field, a different line with respect to North Korea is just the first step towards a very different line with the mullahs’ program.
This is a deal that the regime in Tehran has already violated in many ways that we know. And I’m confident it has violated it in many ways that perhaps we don’t know yet, by hiding programs from international inspectors, by conduction some of them, perhaps even in North Korea. The fact is that the regime remains on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism, it is the very definition of a rogue regime, it’s pursuing nuclear weapons, it sponsors terrorism and oppresses its own citizens. This is a rogue regime, not a rogue country, not a rogue people, a rogue regime. Which is why I have believed for over a decade now that the declared policy of the United States should be regime change in Iran.
And the sooner the better, for the sake of international peace and security, and for the sake of the suffering people of Iran. But now in the short term we have to deal with the consequences of this deal on the nuclear weapons programs, something I’ve called an American diplomatic Waterloo, so I would just extend at this point, a friendly warning to American companies, to European companies, to businesses all around the world: the international sanctions imposed because of the mullahs nuclear program have been lifted, but American sanctions, that go to their sponsorship of terrorism around the world, those sanctions remain in place. The regime’s designation as a state sponsor of terrorism remains in place. I would argue that no responsible America company should do business with a state sponsor of terrorism. Period. And I would say the same to the Europeans. It’s true that under the deal, perhaps a 150 billion dollars of assets were unfrozen and given to the regime and that many deals have already been signed, but there’s a long way to go and any business that does any kind of economic activity, trade or investment with this regime is risking its share-holders’ equity, it’s risking its reputation, and it’s certainly risking the prospect of ever getting that money back again. So before the business people get on an airplane heading for Tehran, while this regime remains in power, remember that the eyes of the world are still upon you.
And the fact is, that what we all want to see in Iran is a representative government, with the people of Iran being allowed to elect their own leaders. I’ve watched the PMOI and the NCRI for many many years and I’ve looked at the MEK platform carefully, I’ve noted its plans, particularly on its renunciation of nuclear weapons. This is the kind of debate that Iran needs to have. These are the kind of principles that need to be put to the people of Iran, trusting that they will do the right thing, and that this repressive regime is on the short list of regimes and its life expectancy is very short indeed.
As I said, we’re waiting the specifics of what the Trump administration’s program will be. As usual, there’s debate inside the United States, no American transition from one president to another ever goes as quickly as we might like. I just ask for a little bit more patience while this gets worked out. I think there are some steps that the administration is considering, certainly that I would advocate, starting with putting the IRGC on the list of foreign terrorist organization as early as possible. The IRGC has been an enemy of America, from the day that our embassy was seized in Tehran at the beginning of the revolution of 1979, continuing through the day in 1983 in Beirut when an officer of the IRGC stood on a hill looking through binoculars as a predecessor group of Hezbollah attacked the American marines barracks and killed over 250 American marines, as the IRGC trained and armed militias in Iraq that attacked American troops, there’s a long history of this, and it’s not something that the United States should ever overlook. So I’m hopeful that the IRGC’s designation – and it will be a fine day not only when the MEK was taking off that list quite properly – but the IRGC, the real terrorist organization put on once and for all.
I know there’s still a long way to go and it may seem sometimes like a frustrating journey. But all I can say is this is a wonderful celebration, happy Nowruz to all of you, and I’m looking forward to more and more of the new day in America we have as well. Thank you very much.