Iran: Regime Change is Within Reach
By John R. Bolton
Originally Published by the Gatestone Institute.
The following is a transcript of Ambassador John Bolton’s speech to the Grand Gathering of Iranians for Free Iran, on July 1, 2017.
It’s a great pleasure and an honor to be with you again here today. I must say, we come at a time of really extraordinary events in the United States that the distinguish today from the circumstances one year ago. Contrary to what virtually every political commentator said, contrary to what almost every public opinion poll said, contrary to what many people said around the world, Barack Obama’s first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is not the president of the United States.
So for the first time in at least eight years that I’ve been coming to this event, I can say that we have a president of the United States who is completely and totally opposed to the regime in Tehran. This is the true feeling of the president, and he’s made it very clear — he made it clear during the election campaign last year, he’s made it clear numerous statements and even in tweets since then; he completely opposes the Iran nuclear deal signed by his predecessor.
Now, there is underway, as there often is in a new American administration, a policy review to determine what US policy will be on a whole range of issues, including how to deal with the regime in Tehran. But even as that review goes on, Congress is moving, with what for Congress is great speed, to enact new economic sanctions legislation against the regime in Iran. These sanctions, when they are put in place, will be because of the regime’s suppression of its own people, and because of their continued support for terrorism around the world — they will not be related to the nuclear issue, although the regime in Tehran has said if these sanctions are enacted into law, they will consider it a breach of the agreement.
Well, that’s nothing new, since the regime has been in breach of the agreement for two straight years. And it’s also it’s also critical, as we look at this policy review, to understand what we want the outcome to be and what, in the United States, many of us are working toward. The outcome of the president’s policy review should be to determine that the Ayatollah Khomeini’s 1979 revolution will not last until its 40th birthday.
The fact is that the Tehran regime is the central problem in the Middle East. There’s no fundamental difference between the Ayatollah Khamenei and President Rouhani — they’re two sides of the same coin. I remember when Rouhani was the regime’s chief nuclear negotiator — you couldn’t trust him then; you can’t trust him today. And it’s clear that the regime’s behavior is only getting worse: Their continued violations of the agreement, their work with North Korea on nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, only continues to grow.
And let’s be clear: Even if somebody were to say to you that the regime is in full compliance with the nuclear deal, it doesn’t make any difference. North Korea is already perilously close to the point where they can miniaturize a nuclear weapon, put it on an intercontinental ballistic missile, and hit targets in the United States. And the day after North Korea has that capability, the regime in Tehran will have it as well, simply by signing a check. That’s what proliferation is, that’s what the threat’s about, and that’s why Donald Trump’s views on North Korea are so similar to his views on the regime in Tehran.
But in the region as well, we face a very, very dangerous point. As the campaign to destroy the ISIS Caliphate nears its ultimately successful conclusion, we must avoid allowing the regime in Tehran to achieve its long-sought objective of an arc of control from Iran, through the Baghdad government in Iraq, the Assad regime in Syria, and the Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon — an arc of control, which if it’s allowed to form, will simply be the foundation for the next grave conflict in the Middle East. The regime in Tehran is not merely a nuclear-weapons threat; it’s not merely a terrorist threat; it is a conventional threat to everybody in the region who simply seeks to live in peace and security.
The regime has failed internationally. It has failed domestically, in economics and politics — indeed its time of weakening is only accelerating, and that’s why the changed circumstances in the United States, I think, throughout Europe and here today, are so important.
There is a viable opposition to the rule of the ayatollahs, and that opposition is centered in this room today. I had said for over 10 years since coming to these events, that the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran. The behavior and the objectives of the regime are not going to change, and therefore the only solution is to change the regime itself. And that’s why, before 2019, we here will celebrate in Tehran! Thank you very much.
John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of “Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad”.