Remarks by Honorable Vice President Mike Pence
Washington, DC, October 28, 2021
Thank you all.
Washington, DC, Thank you for that warm welcome. And it is my great honor to address the Free Iran 2021 summit. Today, along with all of you, thousands of freedom loving people across the United States and Europe, Iran and nations around the world are joining together in pursuit of a common cause, the liberation of the Iranian people from decades of tyranny and the rebirth of a free and peaceful, and prosperous and democratic Iran.
It is very humbling for me to be here with all of you, and with the distinguished Americans that you’ll be hearing from in the balance of this program. And I know I speak for them when I say I want to thank you, I want to thank you for your courageous work, the work you’re doing to promote a free Iran. Thank you all for standing for freedom, for the Iranian people.
Now, this is the first opportunity I’ve had to speak at length about Iran since completing my term as Vice President of the United States. And while I no longer speak on behalf of the United States government, I can assure you, as others, you will hear from today my countrymen. I’m confident I speak for the views of tens of millions of Americans. And I tell you with certainty that the American people support your goal of establishing a democratic, secular, nonnuclear Iranian Republic that derives its powers from the consent of the governed.
Many American citizens trace their family roots to Iran. More than 1.5 million Americans, including many gathered here and looking on across the country, were born in Iran, which means the United States is home to more members of the Iranian diaspora than any other nation on earth. And America has been incredibly enriched by your contributions to our culture, our economy, and our society. Most Iranian Americans came to the United States following the tragic events after the revolution in 1979.
They chose to make the United States their home because they knew that America is and will always remain the land of Liberty.
But for those who were left behind, many of your family members and to those that are looking on from afar, life over those years has been full of misery and hardship.
What the Iranian people have endured since 1979 will be recorded by history as one of the great tragedies of the modern era. As a former elected leader, as an American citizen, as a man of faith who believes that all people are created in the image of God, the Iranian people have always been on my heart throughout my 20 years in public life.
In 2009, like so many other Americans, I remember watching with great hope and anticipation as hundreds of thousands of people across Iran rose up to reclaim their birthright of freedom.
In the 2009 uprising, millions of courageous young men and women filled the streets of Tehran and Tabriz in what seemed like every city and village in between. They denounced a fraudulent election, they demanded an end decades of repression. Those brave protesters looked to America, and they looked to the leader of the free world for support.
But as I saw firsthand as a member of Congress, sadly, for days, our administration remained silent. As a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, it was my honor to take action, recognizing that in their hour of need there could not be an abdication of American leadership. The American cause is freedom. And in that cause, we must never be silent.
So as a member of the House International Relations Committee, I went to work. I worked with a distinguished Democrat member of Congress named Howard Berman. We authored a resolution that the late Senator John McCain and Senator Joe Lieberman, who is with us here today, introduced in the United States Senate.
We expressed America’s support for the courageous young Iranian protesters, and I’m proud to say it passed almost unanimously in the House of Representatives and the United States Senate. And Senator Lieberman, thank you for your strong and decisive leadership on that day. With such strong and overwhelming and bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, happily, the Obama administration joined the chorus of Americans supporting the cause of a free Iran in the days that followed. Unfortunately, the Obama-Biden administration’s halfhearted support and refusal to act ultimately emboldened Iran’s tyrannical rulers to crack down on that dissent.
The 2009 uprising was ruthlessly put down. As I said at the time, cable television channels were filled with the brutality on the streets of Tehran. We were witnessing a Tiananmen in Tehran.
But the enduring hope of a free Iran, as you approve again today, can never be extinguished. And under the Trump-Pence administration, I’m proud that America did not turn a deaf ear to the pleas of the Iranian people. We did not remain silent in the face of the regime’s countless atrocities. We stood with the freedom loving people in Iran.
We stood against their tyrannical regime, as perhaps no administration had done in the modern era.
We canceled the Iran nuclear deal, which had flooded the regime’s coffers with tens of billions of dollars with pallets of cash money that it used to repress its own people and support deadly terrorist attacks across the region. We imposed crippling new sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard. We launched a campaign of maximum pressure, punishing the regime for its belligerent behavior, its assaults on its own citizens. We enforced sanctions to bring Iran’s oil exports to zero and deny the regime its principal source of revenue.
And we called on free nations around the world to stand with us.
We encouraged world leaders to condemn Iran’s unelected dictators and defend the Iranian people and their unalienable right to chart their own future and determine their own destiny. In no uncertain terms, we told the United Kingdom and Germany and France and Russia and China that the JCPOA was a dangerous mistake for America, for the world and for the people of Iran. And we made it clear that under no circumstances would the United States ever allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon.
When we came into office, Iran was sowing violence all across the region. Even in the wake of international agreements and billions of dollars of international support. We confronted the regime’s malign activities and violence in the region, and our administration did not hesitate to take decisive action against the most dangerous terrorist in the world. The head of the Quds Force, Qassem Soleimani is gone.
On the day we left office, the Iranian regime was more isolated than ever before.
Truth be told, as many of you know, gathered at this Free Iran Summit 2021, the Iranian regime has never been weaker than it is today. Its economy is in shambles. The inflation rate has skyrocketed. Iranian currency has lost 90% of its value. Four out of five Iranians now live below the poverty line. Corruption is at an all-time high.
And by all indications, the Iranian people are ready for change.
And there’s every indication that the tyrannical regime in Iran knows their days are numbered.
The recent selection of Ebraham Raisi to service Iran’s President, I believe, is a sign of the regime’s growing desperation and vulnerability. Thirty years ago, Raisi was in charge of the Ayatollah’s death squad, and he’s now the President of that country, a brutal mass murderer responsible in 1988 for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners. His selection as President is clearly intended to quash internal dissent and intimidate the people of Iran into remaining silent.
But we must never remain silent in the face of evil. Many people attending today know well just how evil Raisi is.
Many of you gathered here, and many of you looking on, lost loved ones by Raisi’s hand. You lost your homes, your livelihoods. And as I heard in a meeting just before we gathered here, some of you barely escaped his grip with your lives.
So today, with other distinguished Americans, we join you in pledging his crimes must not go unpunished.
Ebrahim Raisi must be removed from office by the people of Iran, and he must be prosecuted for crimes against humanity and genocide.
And today, by all indications, the resistance movement in Iran has never been stronger. Resistance units in Iran are the center of hope for the Iranian people. They’re the engine of change from within during the uprisings and continued protests. Let me be clear. And I know I speak on behalf of tens of millions of Americans, of both political parties and of every political philosophy. The American people stand unequivocally on the side of the Iranian people and their Resistance.
One of the biggest lies the ruling regime has sold the world is that there’s no alternative to the status quo. But there is an alternative, well organized, fully prepared, perfectly qualified and popularly supported alternative called the MEK.
The MEK is committed to democracy, human rights and freedom for every citizen of Iran, and it’s led by an extraordinary woman. Mrs. Rajavi is an inspiration to the world.
Her ten point plan for the future of Iran will ensure freedom of expression, freedom of assembly, and freedom for every Iranian to choose their elected leaders. Our greatest hope must always be for a peaceful, cooperative and harmonious coexistence with Iran and all the sovereign nations of the region and the world. The United States will always be ready to embrace peace with all who seek it.
But peace follows strength.
And with our current administration’s embrace with the JCPOA, their hesitation to condemn rockets being fired at our cherished ally Israel, the heartbreaking and disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan, our adversaries may be sensing weakness in the current American administration. They may be emboldened to test our resolve. And in fact, they’ve already begun to do so with reports of an Iranian drone attack on a US base in Syria.
Weakness arouses evil.
But whatever the current decisions of the present American administration, let there be no doubt the American people are strong and the American people stand for freedom.
And I know the people of our country will remain committed to defending freedom and standing with oppressed people around the world because we know in our hearts that Iran can be a great nation once again. We know the rich history of Iran, which stretches back in time and memorial. The story of a people who have made great contributions to art, music, literature, science and commerce.
And we know your story is far from over.
As President Ronald Reagan said, there is no arsenal or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women.
Iran will someday be free. Because here in America, we know the Iranian people. You’ve seen all that you’ve achieved in our country when you’ve been free to pursue your hopes and your dreams. All free nations of the world must continue to support the Iranian people in their calls for freedom and demand that Iran’s leaders cease their dangerous and destabilizing actions at home and abroad. We stand with the proud people of Iran because it is right, because the regime in Tehran threatens peace and security in the world, and no oppressive regime can last forever.
I believe in all of my heart that the day will come when the Ayatollah’s ironfisted grip on Iran is ended.
I believe that a new glorious day will dawn. A bright future will begin, ushering an era of peace, stability, prosperity and freedom for the good people of Iran. And so I pray with all my heart that that day will come soon. And looking at all of your shining faces and seeing the broad support so well represented by distinguished Americans here, I believe that day of a free Iran will come soon.
God bless the people of Iran and God bless the United States.