Washington, DC, Dec. 10 – Prominent U.S. lawmakers and former senior government officials expressed hope for a new Iran policy options in the next administration on Thursday. The National Council of Resistance of Iran’s President-elect Maryam Rajavi sent a message to the high-profile Senate briefing, rebuking the Iranian regime’s behavior and calling for Washington to support the Iranian people and their organized resistance.
Among the speakers on the panel were Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ), Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), a longtime member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, former Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic candidate for vice president, and former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, the first secretary of homeland security. Ambassador Mitchell Reiss, former director of policy planning at the State Department, moderated the event.
In her remarks, Mrs. Rajavi said, “Drying up the swamp of fundamentalism and extremism under the banner of Islam, either Shiite or Sunni, can only be made possible through confronting the Iranian regime, the godfather of fundamentalism and terrorism.”
“To the extent that the clerical regime is pushed back from the region the world will get that much closer to destroying ISIS,” Mrs. Rajavi added, underscoring that one step to that end would be the designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a terrorist group.
With respect to the Iran nuclear deal, Senator McCain underscored the “numerous occasions” of violations by the regime and added, “I am convinced that the support that we have in the United States Senate and House on sanctions, on further sanctions on Iran, is very, very strong.”
He added, “I do know the people I see [President-elect Trump] selecting or considering for key positions in his administration I’m very pleased to see.”
Senator McCain also expressed delight and gratitude for the departure of members of the main Iranian opposition Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) from Iraq to Albania and other European countries this year.
Commenting on Congress decision to pass the Iran Sanctions Act, Senator Menendez said, “I was glad to see the Senate reinstate the sanctions that I authored, the Iran Sanctions Act at a 99 to 0 to make sure that Iran has a very clear message that there will be consequences for violation of the agreement, I believe we need to go beyond.”
Senator Lieberman said the relocation of the residents to safe locations marked “a victory” over the Iranian regime. “The [regime] wanted to threaten their lives constantly. But a quite remarkable coalition of people in this country and beyond, assisted by the humanitarian and strong responsiveness of Albania, led to this extraordinary result.”
He also said, “Now we go to a new administration, not protective or defensive of the Iran nuclear agreement but really to challenge it, and I hope ready to challenge Iran on its domestic policies as well, and its expansionism, and on its support of terrorism.”
Senator Lieberman added that the nuclear deal has not led to a change of behavior in Tehran. “Iran under Rouhani continues to directly support and carry out … genocide in Syria.”
The senator called for the designation of the regime’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization. He added, “The president also has the capacity to aggressively renegotiate the agreement.”
“There’s every reason to believe and to be hopeful that the President-elect and his foreign policy team will take a new set of eyes and a new attitude and a new approach toward this theocracy. I’m very hopeful that that’s going to happen,” Secretary Ridge noted.
The Capitol Hill briefing, held at the historic Senate Kennedy Caucus Room, was put together by the Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC). The OIAC has been active in over 40 states and seeks the establishment of a secular, democratic, and non-nuclear republic in Iran.