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Speech by Ambassador Robert Joseph at Washington DC Summit

On March 9, Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, spoke to the Iranian American community gathered in Washington, DC, in commemoration of International Women’s Day and to advocate for regime change in Iran.
Ambassador Robert Joseph

On March 9, Ambassador Robert Joseph, former Under-Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, spoke to the Iranian American community gathered in Washington, DC, in commemoration of International Women’s Day and to advocate for regime change in Iran.

Ambassador Joseph discussed the Iranian regime’s alliances with other totalitarian states, highlighting their role in perpetuating global terrorism and domestic repression. He underscored the empowerment of a significant threat against Western democracies.

As the former US envoy for dismantling Libya’s nuclear weapons program, Joseph urged Washington to apply maximum pressure on Tehran. He called for efforts to isolate and destabilize the regime while supporting the democratic opposition’s endeavor to overthrow the religious dictatorship from within, led by the Iranian people.

The full text of Ambassador Robert Joseph’s speech is as follows:

Ambassador Robert Joseph: We Must Support Iran’s Democratic Opposition in Overthrowing the Religious Dictatorship

Thank you, thank you very, very much, and good afternoon to everybody. It is terrific to be here this afternoon in the company of so many friends from Iranian American communities really across our great country. It is it’s wonderful to see to see you all.
And I know that we are all united in the pursuit of a free and democratic Iran and the end of this religious dictatorship that has hijacked the great Persian nation and Islam itself.

Given the established protocol, I knew that I would be the fourth person to speak following three very prominent, very distinguished statesmen and soldiers. All three I believe to be American heroes and given the amazing accomplishments and the amazing experiences of Secretary Pompeo, General Clark, and General Jones, I knew that there would be very little left for me to say because individually and collectively they would have said everything I would have hoped to say and say it much more eloquently.

So, what I’ll do is pose three questions for you. These questions I believe need to be addressed if our goal of a free Iran is to be achieved.
The first is why after 45 years, after 45 years, we’re still talking about a regime that’s built on repression at home and terrorism abroad. Put another way, how has this malign regime managed to avoid its inevitable fate of being in the words of President Ronald Reagan, consigned to the ash heap of history?
The short answer I believe is twofold: First, the regime is willing to use whatever means necessary to hold on to power. Its oppression and its pervasive corruption know no bounds.

In the 1980s it conducted mass executions of tens of thousands of opponents especially focused on the principal domestic threat both then and now, the MEK. The murder spree has continued until today. In the past few years, the regime has killed thousands more in the streets across Iran.
Thousands and thousands more have been imprisoned and millions have been denied their basic human and civil rights. I know these are not just numbers or statistics. I know this is deeply personal for many of you here today, especially those who have lost your parents, who have lost sisters and brothers, sons and daughters in the mullahs’ killing fields.

Their determination to right what is a historic wrong is truly inspiring for me. While the regime has become adept at applying a mix of modern technology with medieval brutality, the people still rise up. And while the mullahs have developed an oppressive array of cruise missiles and drones and ballistic missiles, they have lost all legitimacy with their own people.

In fact, the Iranian people, the first and foremost victims of this regime, have become the greatest threat to the regime.

A second reason for the regime’s survival is the failure of the international community to stand up to Iran’s terrorism, its regional aggression, and its crimes against humanity. Russia and China, through their purchase of weapons used to kill Ukrainians and the purchase of Iranian oil, have become strategic partners with the mullahs without regard to funding terrorism or domestic repression.

We should expect nothing less from Putin and Xi. But what about the Western democracies, who, with few exceptions, have consistently made the wrong choice in favor of the regime? And I think this is reflected in policies that have propped up the regime, providing the regime with resources to conduct terrorist acts around the world, to pursue regional aggression, to become a virtual nuclear weapon state, and, of course, to repress the Iranian people.

And this leads me to my second question, and that is: what’s behind this record of bad choices, this record of appeasement?

In part, I think it’s wishful thinking. How else can one explain the false but seemingly never-ending hope that the regime, if only granted more concessions, will become more moderate?

A false hope. In part, it’s mirror imaging. How else can one explain the belief that the regime will actually honor its commitments when it has an unblemished record of failing to do so? In part, it’s the now-revealed Iranian-sponsored disinformation efforts that have been very effective in a most perverse way in shaping the views of many so-called experts in academia and think tanks.

How else can one explain the public attacks by these useful idiots, to use Lenin’s term, on the democratic opposition and their support for a regime that has committed horrific atrocities against the Iranian people?

I say shame on these useful idiots. Shame on them. Their effort to turn the world upside down will not succeed. Incredibly, some of these regime influencers, if I can use that term, have taken high-level positions in our government, serving as architects of the failed and flawed nuclear agreement, and in the most prominent case, becoming—and you can’t make this up—becoming the Iran envoy until losing his security clearance one year ago. Again, shame on these people.
But most of all, most of all, the foundation of appeasement is the failure of leadership and the resulting bad choices concerning national security interests and a willingness to betray the moral imperative of defending human rights.

This is not a blame-America-first statement. This is a responsibility shared by almost every Western democracy. How else can one explain the failed policies over 20 years intended to constrain Iran’s nuclear program through negotiations and acceptance, the acceptance of Raisi as a legitimate head of state when he personally participated in the mass murder of thousands, a man with blood on his hands?

How else can one explain the decision to relax sanctions with the sale of Iranian oil and an act that since 2021 has netted the regime over $90 billion that was spent not for the betterment of the Iranian people, but to support Hamas and other proxies, to build more drones and missiles, and to recruit and pay assassins to kill opponents of the regime in Spain, here in the United States, and in other countries? This is the evilness of the regime that we are dealing with.

This leads to my third and final question, and that is, what needs to be done? Drawing on my involvement with the democratic opposition for more than a decade, I believe we need to act now and act decisively.

There’s never been more urgency. At most, Iran is one or two months away from having a nuclear weapon, awaiting only a political decision to go forward. When it decides to do so, it will be a game changer, with potentially catastrophic consequences. How that game will turn out is anyone’s guess, but it is certain that the world will be a much more dangerous place.

And we need to stop Iran now from killing more of our soldiers and our citizens in the region and at home, through proxies and Iranian agents. Striking empty warehouses in retaliation only signals weakness and encourages more deadly assaults on Americans. There will be no better time. We need to reject the proposition, a popular one at the State Department when I was there, that while we may agree with you 100%, now is not the time. Well, ladies and gentlemen, now is the time.

This is a desperate regime, a desperate regime. While the mullahs may have tried to put forward a veneer of legitimacy through fake elections and sham show trials, no one has been fooled, least of all the Iranian people, who just last week, as others have pointed out, boycotted the rigged elections with what was likely a historic low turnout.

The people continue to protest even as they risk their lives in rejecting the dictates of the regime. The regime’s foreign aggression through terrorist proxies in Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen, Syria, and Gaza, is also an act of desperation, using the specter of foreign enemies to divert and subvert the attention of its own domestic opposition. This will fail as well as the Iranian people have simply had enough.
I need to be clear, as others have, that this is not a call for military intervention by U.S. armed forces, but we can no longer postpone taking deliberate and decisive steps to pressure the regime with real and effective sanctions.

Maximum pressure is practiced by Secretary Pompeo and his team in the Trump administration. But the goal of this pressure should not be to encourage Iran to negotiate on its nuclear program, a seductive but feckless pursuit. Rather, the goal must be to isolate and destabilize the regime while supporting the democratic opposition in overthrowing the religious dictatorship from within the Iranian people.

Our policy should also be to support the Resistance, those brave men and women who continue to make the ultimate sacrifice for a democratic, secular, and non-nuclear Iran. This support can come in many forms, from helping to ensure the protection and rights of the political refugees in Albania, to public and policy statements that recognize the right of the Iranian people to self-defense in their rejection of a tyrannical government.

This is a regime that denies its own citizens, and I’ll quote Jefferson as well, the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These rights enshrined in the American Declaration of Independence almost 250 years ago are as important and relevant today as they were then.

As others have stated, these and other goals are best conveyed in the Ten-Point Plan of Mrs. Rajavi in the NCRI, a plan endorsed by hundreds of leaders around the world with bipartisan support in our own Congress.

Today the choice is clear between a dark, dystopian existence and a positive democratic vision for the future of the Iranian people. It’s time to choose. It’s time to act. As Mrs. Rajavi has said, we must crush the head of the snake.

In a few days, we’ll celebrate Nowruz, a celebration of renewal and rebirth. Let us pray for the rebirth of the great Iranian nation and the end to the nightmare of the mullahs’ rule, as it was in my country 250 years ago. And this is a message to you, to all members of the NCRI, to the brave residents at Ashraf 3, and most of all, to those in the frontline Resistance Units in Iran:

You will prevail. The people of Iran will prevail. Freedom will prevail. Thank you very much. Thank you.


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