|Ambassador John Bolton – High Time for U.S. Declared Policy to Overthrow Mullahs in Tehran|
Paris, Thank you very much. Just a few days ago in Moscow, there finished the latest negotiation with the regime in Tehran over its nuclear weapons program. This is the latest in the world's longest running game of Charades. Ten years these negotiations have gone on. And for ten years the regime in Tehran has outnegotiated Europe, outnegotiated the United States, outnegotiated the United Nations. We are on the verge of a very, very dangerous event if the mullahs achieve their long sought objective of deliverable nuclear weapons. And that is why I think it is high time for the United States to make it its open and declared policy that we must overthrow the mullahs in Tehran. [applause]
It is simply not acceptable to allow this regime, the world's central banker of international terrorism to develop nuclear weapons. They are perilously close to the point where they will achieve that objective. And if they do get nuclear weapons it won't make the people of Iran any safer. It will put them in greater danger. Because surely, when the mullahs get nuclear weapons Saudi Arabia will get nuclear weapons, Egypt will get nuclear weapons, Turkey will get nuclear weapons, perhaps others. So that in a very short period of time as these things go the volatile Middle East will be a nuclear hotspot. This is something that we simply cannot do enough to prevent.
So, while we are taking the measure of what the mullahs are up to on the nuclear front, the United States and others should be providing assistance to legitimate opposition groups who are determined to overthrow the Ayatollahs. Without that kind of action I think that the people of Iran are in constant jeopardy of a repetition of what happened in the summer of 2009 after Ahmadinejad's second fraudulent election. The people alone do not have the resources to stand against the Pasdaran and the Bassiji. They need outside assistance. They need the leadership that external factors can provide to remind the people still inside Iran that the world has not forgotten them. This is something that if we don't take steps to achieve now we may lose the opportunity for a long time. Look at what the regime is doing in Syria right now, aiding the Baath party dictatorship killing its own people. Pasdaran guards are in the streets of Syria assisting the Syrian military, conducting exactly the same kind of operations that the Revolutionary Guards did in the summer of 2009.
This regime in Tehran, as everybody here knows, is enormously unpopular. It has made a mess of Iran's economy for the last 30 years. It has not used Iran's oil resources effectively, so that economic discontent is widespread. Moreover, the young people in Iran, over 70% under age 30, know that they could have a different life, that the life that the regime insists they have now, is not their only alternative. They can see it on the Internet, they can see it across the Gulf. They can see it around the world. They're an educated and sophisticated group of people who need outside assistance.
Now, let's be clear what assistance for regime change in Iran means. It does not mean outside military forces. That is not required. And nobody should operate under the assumption that that's what those who favor regime change actually means. What it does mean is providing material assistance to the opposition, to all legitimate opposition groups. And that includes the MEK, starting the day after it is delisted from the list of terrorist organizations. [applause]
I have served in the executive branch of our government. I have had access to information about terrorist organizations. And like many colleagues of mine, some of whom you will hear from today, who have seen the so-called evidence about the MEK there is no justification, and there never was, for it to be put on that list. It was put on in the late 1990s under the belief that it would placate the mullahs in Tehran. That was wrong. It was kept on the list in 2008 under the impression it would placate the mullahs in Tehran. That was wrong too. The facts need to lead where they lead. Let the facts fall where they may. If there were evidence of terrorist activity let the State Department present it to the courts. They haven't done that yet.
So, the first step is to delist the MEK and then provide opposition to it and other legitimate Iranian opposition groups. Now, some say, "Oh well, you know if the United States provides assistance it will delegitimize the opposition." My point is, why don't we let the opposition determine that. If they want American assistance, if they want European assistance then let them have it. There are others who say, "But even if you provide assistance, why provide it to the MEK? They're so unpopular inside Iran." Here's my answer to that: let's overthrow the mullahs. Let's have free and fair elections. And then let's decide who's unpopular. [applause]
We are very close to the point where the world is going to have to make some very difficult decisions about Iran's nuclear weapons program. I wish we weren't at that point. But I do know this: whatever happens on the nuclear front, the only long-term solution, the only way out of the dilemma that the world faces is to overthrow the mullahs in Tehran. And I wish you good luck in that. Thank you very much.
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