June 23, 2022, Ashraf 3, Albania
Well, thank you for that warm welcome, Maryam Rajavi. It is a great honor for me and my wonderful wife to be here at Ashraf 3 in Albania where the eternal flame of freedom in Iran burns bright.
And it’s a privilege for us to be here in the home of thousands of courageous Iranian men and women. A home of peace and prosperity. A home of hope for a free and democratic Iran. You know I’ve traveled more than 5,000 miles from my home in Indiana to be here today because we share one common cause: the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free, peaceful, prosperous and democratic Iran.
And I want to thank you all, so many of whom have gone through such personal hardship. Thank you for standing strong in the name of freedom. This is the first opportunity I’ve had to visit Albania since completing my term as vice president of the United States. And while I no longer speak on behalf of the American government I do speak with confidence regarding the views of millions of Americans. And I can say to all of those gathered here, including many of my fellow Americans, that the American people are with you as you stand and labor for freedom in Iran.
I know in my heart of hearts for having served, among them, in the Congress and as governor and as the vice president that the American people support your goal of establishing a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iranian republic that derives its powers from the consent of the governed. Many American citizens trace their family roots to Iran. More than 1.5 million Americans were actually born in Iran which means the United States today is home to more members of the Iranian Diaspora than any other nation on earth. And America has been incredibly enriched by the contributions of Iranian Americans to our culture, our economy, and our society. Most Iranian Americans came to our country following the tragic events after the Revolution in 1979.
They chose to make the United States their home because then they knew that America is and will always be the land of liberty holding aloft the flame of freedom for all to behold.
We’re proud and grateful for our Iranian American community. But along with them, our hearts are with those that were left behind, for whom life has been a misery and a hardship day in and day out in ways that you understand that we never fully will. But your witness here at Ashraf 3, your voice on the world stage is more important than ever before. What the Iranian people have endured since 1979 will be recorded by history as one of the great tragedies of the modern era. As a former elected leader, as an American citizen, and as a man of faith who believes that all are created in the image of God.
Iranian people have always had a special place in my heart. I’m deeply humbled that Maryam Rajavi began her remarks today, reflecting on my work long before I was Vice President. In 2009, like so many other Americans, I remember watching with great hope and anticipation as the people of Iran rose up to claim their birthright of freedom. In the 2009 uprising, millions of courageous young men and young women filled the streets of Tehran and Tabriz, and what appeared for all the world to be
in every city and village in between, denouncing the clearly fraudulent elections and demanding an end to decades of repression. Those brave protesters looked to the leader of the free world for support. But as I saw firsthand as a Member of Congress, then the President of the United States remained silent. But I knew where the heart of the American people was. And so, as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, I saw that lack of action for what it was: an abdication of American leadership, as courageous Iranians took to the street on behalf of freedom. The American cause is freedom.
And in this cause, we must never be silent.
So to give the American people a voice where our leaders were silent, I introduced a resolution expressing support for the courageous Iranian protesters. And I’m proud to say, with the support of the late John McCain, former Senator Joe Lieberman and Congressman Howard Berman, the House and the Senate passed that resolution almost unanimously. And with such overwhelming and bipartisan support, the Obama/Biden administration joined the chorus at last and supported the cause of freedom that had taken to the streets of Iran.
But sadly, the Obama/Biden administration’s halfhearted support and refusal to act ultimately emboldened Iran’s tyrannical leaders to crack down on that dissent.
And as many of you in this room experienced firsthand, that 2009 uprising was ruthlessly put down. As we witnessed that horror, I said at the time that we were witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran, and so we were. But the enduring hope for a free around can never be extinguished. That’s more clear to us today visiting here at Ashraf 3 than it’s ever been. For I see in each one of your eyes and the countenance and confidence on your face, that the people of Iran will someday be free.
And that same resolve has been evident in the continuation of nationwide uprisings since 2017, including in November of 2019, when the Iranian regime fired on peaceful protesters, killing 1,500 in cold blood. Now, under the Trump/Pence administration, I am proud that in our time, America did not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the Iranian people. We did not remain silent in the face of the Iranian regime’s countless atrocities. We stood with freedom-loving people in Iran.
We canceled the disastrous Iran nuclear deal which flooded the regime’s coffer with tens of billions of dollars and pallets of cash, money that the regime used to repress its own people and support deadly attacks across the wider world. We imposed new and crippling sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. We launched what came to be known as a campaign of maximum pressure, punishing the regime for its belligerent behavior and the assault on its own citizens. And we vigorously enforced those sanctions to bring Iran’s oil exports to near zero during our administration and deny the regime its principal source of revenue. We also called on free nations of the world to stand with us, to stand with the Iranian people.
We encouraged world leaders to condemn Iran’s unelected dictators and defend the Iranian people’s inalienable right to determine their own destiny. In no uncertain terms under our administration, we told the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Russia, and China that the JCPOA was a dangerous mistake that would cost the world dearly. And we made it abundantly clear that America would never allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
We confronted the regime’s malign activity across the region. We isolated Iran as never before, empowering the people of Iran to step up and grasp for freedom even more. And we didn’t hesitate to take decisive action against those that the regime used to perpetrate violence against innocent civilians in Iran, across the region, and against American service members.
When I was there when the order was given and the head of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani, is gone.
As I said, we isolated Iran as never before. We brought together Arab nations with Israel for a historic Abraham Accord.
And then a change came in America. And now President Biden and his administration are threatening to unravel all the progress we made in marginalizing the tyrannical regime in Tehran. It seems all over the world that this American administration is working overtime to unwind the progress that we made. They’re working to actually restore the Iran nuclear deal, putting Tehran back on the fast track to obtaining a nuclear weapon. In fact, the Biden administration recently admitted that under a restored nuclear deal, Iran would be capable of amassing enough nuclear fuel for a bomb in less than one year, even faster than what was allowed under the previous deal.
They recently waived sanctions imposed by the Trump/Pence administration related to the regime’s nuclear activities. And additionally, the Biden administration has actually worked closely with Russia to revive talks on the Iran nuclear deal with Tehran.
It’s extraordinary to think as Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified war in Ukraine rages, an American administration is working with the perpetrators of that war to reopen a deal that would only strengthen the tyrants in Tehran. Well, I simply say to you as an American, that these actions are dangerous. Appeasement has never worked and never will. A renewed nuclear deal with Iran won’t lead to peace and stability. It will lead to more terrorism, death, and destruction.
A renewed deal with Iran won’t block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb. It will pave a path in gold. And a renewed Iran nuclear deal won’t benefit the people of Iran in any way. It will merely empower and enrich a corrupt regime that has tormented and tortured the Iranian people for generations.
My faith teaches that we are to abhor what is evil and cling to what is good. So today, simply as an American, we call on the Biden administration to stand with the people of Iran, and stand up for the cause of freedom and justice. Today, we call on the Biden administration to immediately withdraw from all nuclear negotiations with Tehran, voice support for the organized opposition in Iran and make it clear that America and our allies will never permit the regime in Tehran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
Peace is only possible through strength. President Biden’s reembrace of the JCPOA with new concessions offered to the tyrants in Tehran, with each passing day, with the virtual abandonment of our ally Israel and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, the adversaries of freedom are sensing weakness in the American administration. They’ve been emboldened to test our resolve.
And let me be clear. There’s one person responsible for the merciless war being waged in Ukraine, and that is Vladimir Putin. And Putin must be held to account.
But there is no doubt, there is no doubt that going hat in hand with the regime in Tehran, reopening the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to Russia, and the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan have sent a message that has emboldened those who would use violence to perpetuate their political goals. Weakness arouses evil. And the evil rising in Iran and around the world speaks to the weakness projected by the current American administration.
But let there be no doubt, whatever message may be coming from the current American government, the American people are strong and the American people stand for freedom.
And my countrymen stand with you in your goal of establishing a secular, democratic, non-nuclear Iranian republic that derives its just powers from the consent of the governed. And the American people always will.
And I hope that is an encouragement to you, you have suffered so much and endured so much.
It’s an old saying that it’s always darkest just before dawn.
And I believe the brutality that we’re witnessing in this regime is evidence that the Iranian regime has never been weaker than it is today.
Four out of five Iranians now live below the poverty line. Corruption is at an all-time high, and it’s clear the Iranian people are fed up, and ready for change. The regime’s sole focus now appears to be maintaining its precarious grip on power, which grows weaker by the day. I believe that’s why the regime took the extreme step of disqualifying virtually all opposition members of parliament in the 2020 elections. But the greatest evidence for the growing weakness of the Iranian regime is the recent selection of Ebrahim Raisi to serve as Iranian President.
As you all know and from history records, 30 years ago, Raisi was in charge of the Ayatollah’s death squads.
We walked through the museum today where that history is recorded. Raisi is a brutal mass murderer responsible for the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. His selection as president was intended to quash internal dissent and intimidate the people of Iran into remaining silent.
But it’s backfired. The good people of Iran will never be silent in the face of evil. And neither will we.
Many of you whose families suffered under Raisi know full well.
You lost loved ones. You bear the scars of his brutality in your bodies. Some of you barely escaped, I learned today.
So today I join you in pledging that Raisi’s crimes will not go unpunished. Ebrahim Raisi is unworthy of leading the great people of Iran. He must be removed from office by the people of Iran, and he must be prosecuted for the crimes against humanity and genocide that he perpetrated 30 years ago and every day since.
Today, the resistance movement in Iran has never been stronger. It’s been inspiring for me to learn today even more Resistance Units in Iran are the center of hope for the Iranian people.
An engine for change from within during the uprisings and continued protests. And every day it’s clear they’re growing stronger while the regime grows weaker. Today, teachers, workers, and retirees are courageously taking to the streets. Protests that used to be isolated and sporadic quickly spread to multiple cities.
Hope is a flame in the heart of freedom-loving men and women.
And as I heard again today, that flame is burning brighter than ever before. Thanks to all of you.
So, I came here today simply to say we stand unequivocally on the side of the Iranian people. One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold the world is that there’s no alternative to the status quo.
But there is an alternative.
A well-organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified, and popularly supported alternative. And let me thank Maryam Rajavi and all of those gathered here at Ashraf 3 for offering hope to your people in Iran.
Your Resistance Units’ commitment to democracy, human rights, and freedom for every citizen is a vision for a free Iran and an inspiration to the world.
Maryam Rajavi’s Ten Point Plan for the future of Iran will ensure the freedom of expression, the freedom of assembly, and freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders.
It’s a foundation on which to build the future of a free Iran.
The regime in Tehran wants to trick the world into believing that the Iranian protesters want to return to the dictatorship of the Shah as well.
But I want to assure you, we’re not confused by their lies.
So, let me ask you all right here for all the world to hear: Do the Iranian people want to replace one dictator with another?