Top U.S. Official: We Will Make Iran Regime Pay Price for Support of Terrorism
The Washington Institute hosted a Policy Forum with Ambassador Nathan Sales, the State Department's Coordinator for Counterterrorism, as part of its long-running Stein Counterterrorism Lecture Series. The following is a report of that event.
Top Trump Administration Official: We Will Make Tehran Regime Pay Price for Support of Terrorism
The Tehran regime provides terrorist groups throughout the Middle East nearly one billion dollars a year, a top Trump administration official said on Tuesday.
“Who ultimately pays the price of this support?” Ambassador-at-Large and Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales asked during a lecture at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy think tank. “The Iranian people. The resources Iran uses to fund its global terrorist campaign come directly out of the pockets of ordinary Iranians. The regime robs its own citizens to pay its proxies abroad.”
“Tehran’s priorities are clear,” he continued. “It doesn’t seek to boost economic growth at home, or to improve Iranian living standards. It doesn’t seek to reduce Iran’s growing unemployment. What the regime prioritizes, despite the country’s increasing economic distress, is buying guns and bombs for foreign terrorists.”
According to Sales, Iran gives its Lebanon-based Shi’a proxy Hezbollah $700 million annually, while Palestinian terror organizations get around $100 million from the mullahs in Tehran.
“Thanks to Iran’s backing, Hezbollah has built a fearsome arsenal,” Sales warned. “The group now has more than 100,000 rockets in Lebanon, a massive and destabilizing build-up. Indifferent to the people it purports to defend, Hezbollah hides its missile factories in population centers — effectively using innocent civilians as human shields.”
“And while Hezbollah likes to tout its political role and social services in Lebanon, that’s an ill-fitting fig leaf for its true and more nefarious agenda,” he added. “Let’s be clear: Hezbollah is not an NGO; it is not just another political party. Hezbollah is a terrorist group with a bloody record of perpetrating violence and destruction in Lebanon and Syria, throughout the Middle East, and around the world.”
Iranian leaders do not exhibit the behavior of a “normal government,” but rather that of “a lawless regime that uses terrorism as a basic tool of statecraft,” Sales said.
“We cannot let this threat go unanswered,” he declared. “And so the Trump administration is responding. We’re going after Iranian support for terrorism in a variety of ways to get at the people and organizations Iran uses to spread terror.”
“We will make clear to Iran-backed terrorists and to their masters in Tehran that there are costs — increasingly heavy ones — to their support for terrorist barbarism,” Sales stated. “We are prepared to impose those costs on the regime and its proxies wherever they may be.”
The Trump administration, Sales vowed, “will continue to ratchet up the pressure until Iran comes to its senses, joins the community of civilized nations, and ends its support for murder and mayhem across the globe.”