Hello. This is Senator Bob Menendez, the senior senator from New Jersey and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Whether you are tuning in from Ashraf-3 in Albania or watching live from Iran via satellite, it is an honor to be invited to speak with you all today as part of the International Convention for a Free Iran. And I’d especially like to thank Maryam Rajavi for her leadership and contributions to this movement. For decades, the Iranian regime has oppressed its people, terrorized neighboring countries and undermined the stability of the entire region.
While the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps carries out terrorist campaigns abroad, Iranian security forces imprison innocent civilians at home, often for no other reason than because they were peacefully protesting the regime’s brutality. While Iranian drones loaded with ball bearings and shrapnel hit American facilities, the regime works to stockpile nuclear material and advance its nuclear program. While the regime spreads misinformation abroad, they promote and protect human rights abusers at home. Men like Ebrahim Raisi.
This is someone who was actively involved in the 1988 massacre of as many as 30,000 political prisoners in Iran, a crime that he carried out after the supreme leader’s religious decree against the MEK, the People’s Mojahedin Organization. This is someone who directed the brutal crackdowns against peaceful protesters in both 2009 and the more recent protests of 2019. That’s why the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the regime promoted this killer. They promoted him to consolidate their power. They promoted him to close off any room for Iranian citizens seeking to hold their government accountable.
And they promoted him as they stepped up regional terrorism operations and their push towards a nuclear weapon. We must continue to call out continued oppression in Iran. It is critical to confront the misogynist regime’s targeting of women. It is critical to support people exercising their rights by protesting against the regime’s repression. Indeed, with every building that collapses, with every water shortage, with every currency devaluation, the protest movement expands.
I have long hoped that any Iranian leader would truly respect and represent the will of a majority of the Iranian people, people who want a government that responds to their needs and respects their rights, people who would far prefer an Iran that is a responsible member of the international community and an Iran that respects the rights of all those who live within its borders, regardless of their ethnic backgrounds and beliefs, an Iran that is focused on the prosperity and well being of all its people. I truly believe the overwhelming majority of Iranians have always opposed the violent tactics, extrajudicial killings and nuclear ambitions of the leaders in Tehran. But the Iranian regime continues to play this nefarious role.
It continues to support terrorism abroad and advance its nuclear capabilities at home. Unfortunately, despite severe overtures from this administration to engage in a constructive dialogue on Iran’s nuclear program, a return to the 2015 deal is not only unrealistic and unproductive, it is a fantasy. Iran is drawing out negotiations with delay tactics and brinkmanship. Meanwhile, it partners with Vladimir Putin to provide drone technology to deploy in its illegal war in Ukraine. And Iran continues to advance its nuclear program in the face of the international community’s censure.
And so it is time for us to send a message that we will do whatever is necessary to defend the national interest of the United States and to ensure that Iran never achieves a nuclear weapon. Finally, I’d like to salute the bravery of the Iranian diaspora in the face of violent reprisals and the real threats of transnational harassment and detentions. Let us come together and stand up for the Iranian people struggling for a country that respects human rights and the dignity of all people. And let us continue to fight for the freedom and justice every Iranian deserves. Thank you.