Radiofarda – The “Fact Sheet” published by the U.S. Department of State, highlighting allegations against the Islamic Republic has triggered a war of words between Tehran and Washington.
On Friday, May 22, the State Department “Fact Sheet” maintained that the Shi’ite clergy-dominated Iran, since its establishment four decades ago, has carried out more than 360 assassinations, terrorist plots, and terrorist attacks in more than forty countries across the globe.
The Islamic Republic Foreign Ministry responded harshly, accusing Washington of “lying”, “conspiracy” and “fabrication” to start a new round of “psychological war” and “exerting pressure” on Tehran.
Furthermore, Tehran insisted that Washington did not have any “evidence” to prove its allegations.
In an exclusive interview with Radio Farda’s Baktash Khamsehpour, Special Envoy for Iran, Brian Hook fired back insisting that, not only the United States but many countries around the world have repeatedly raised their concerns over Tehran’s activities, including its nuclear ballistic missiles program.
Furthermore, for the first time, describing the Iranian government as a “Marxist-theocratic” regime, Hook asserted that the Iranian people are tired of their regime.
Here is Radio Farda’s Q&A with Brian Hook:
Radio Farda: In the fact sheet, the only specific number given of the victims of what you call the Islamic Republic terrorism is 85 killed in a suicide bombing attack on the building of AMIA ( Argentine Israelite Mutual Association), on July 18, 1994, in Buenos Aires. Would you give a breakdown of the remaining number of the victims, especially the number of the dissident Iranians assassinated, the most recent case being the killing Massoud Molavi in Turkey?
Brian Hook: Well, we did want to highlight how Iran uses its diplomats for assassinations and terrorist activities. We wanted to put that on the fact sheet so the people can understand the regime uses assassinations like the one you mentioned in Turkey, against Iranian dissidents.
Iran’s diplomats are agents of terror, and they conducted multiple assassinations and bomb plots all over the world. They conducted acts of terrorism on five continents.
The European Union imposed sanctions on Iran’s intelligence service, because of the assassination attempts and bomb plots in Europe. I wish the European Union would also put sanctions on what Iran is doing inside the Middle East. But if you look at the time this regime came to power in 1979, it has been implicated in assassinations and other terrorist plots in more than forty countries. That’s just extraordinary.
Radio Farda: In the international diplomatic scene, the United States has made its position clear regarding the Islamic Republic but, at the same time, the European Union, and specifically the Russian Federation, as well as the People’s Republic of China are not in coordination with the United States’ position toward Iran.
Brian Hook: I challenge a little bit of that question, because when I confer with our European allies, and also with China and Russia, no one wants to see Iran, the Islamic Republic, acquire nuclear weapons; no one is happy about Iran’s ballistic missile testing, which is obviously a cover for developing intercontinental and ballistic missiles so that it could send a nuclear warhead wherever it wishes.
I do not think anybody’s happy with the regime’s regional aggression and hostage-taking. And you have seen European nations, especially the permanent members of the UN Security Council, France, and the United Kingdom, repeatedly condemn Iran for terrorism, ballistic missile testing, missile proliferation, terror finance, and money laundering. They have done a lot to face Iran. We do wish they will join our strategy of maximum economic pressure and diplomatic isolation. We run a very successful strategy over the last two years, and the President would like to get to talks with the Iranian regime, and we would like to see China, Russia, and the European countries join us.
Radio Farda: The Islamic Republic has rejected the State Department fact sheet by accusing Washington of lying, calling the fact sheet “conspiracy”, “illusion” and “fabrication” compiled for “psychological war”, and exerting pressure on Tehran. As the State Department official responsible for Iranian affairs, what would you say to that?
Brian Hook: We do not pay a lot of attention to the propaganda machine that comes outside of Tehran. This is a Marxist-theocratic regime that peddles in falsehoods and lies.
For forty-one years now the Iranian people are tired of it, the international community is tired of it. When we put out our fact sheet, we can back-up everything in it. And the only thing that Iran really has is complaints that this is a psychological operation. But, when you look at so many people who lost their lives because of Iranian violence; I think everybody who has fallen victim to Iranian terrorism around the world understands the truth.
Radio Farda: You have recently said because of U.S. pressure, the Islamic Republic leaders have decided either to negotiate with or manage an economic collapse. How possible is negotiation with a regime that the U.S. has designated as the “main sponsor of terrorism in the world?”
Brian Hook: One of the reasons that they have been able to get away with so much terrorism is because they have the money to fund it, and what we did when coming to office, we reversed the prior administration’s policy of accommodation with the regime and sanctions relief, and even encouraging business with Iran.
But since IRGC controls half of the Iranian economy, probably higher than half, if you are investing in Iran, if you are spending money in Iran, that money can go to terrorism just as easily as it can go to commerce.
So, we put in place a policy of maximum economic pressure, so that this regime simply doesn’t have the revenue that it used to spend on its nuclear program, its missiles, not being in peace with its neighbors, its weapons program; and as a consequence, the Iranian regime is weaker, and so are its proxies.
Iran doesn’t have the money anymore that it used to, to keep its proxies rich and to keep the regime’s elite rich. So, we have been able to affect a change in the regime’s behavior simply by denying its revenue. And we have amassed a lot of leverage against the regime, and that leverage is going to be necessary to accomplish the kind of deal we’re talking about. We need to get to zero enrichment. Countries that want peaceful nuclear power do not need to enrich.
We also need to do something about Iran’s ballistic missiles testing and missile proliferation; all of its hostage-taking and attacking its neighbors. And we believe that our diplomacy will be able to accomplish that result.