February 26, 2016
A Non-Nuclear Iran Can Only Be Attained Through Strength, Former Speaker Says
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In his first major foreign policy and natural security remarks since leaving office, former U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today said the U.S. government must stand with the people of Iran and not with the radical regime that has oppressed them for decades while sponsoring terrorist aggression throughout the world.
“The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people,” Boehner said in remarks to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty. “The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world.”
Boehner blasted the Iran nuclear deal that was rammed through last year by President Obama over the objections of a bipartisan majority in Congress, saying the administration’s actions in the months since he left office have only confirmed his worst fears about the agreement.
The former speaker upped the ante on questions raised earlier this month by House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), challenging the White House to explain why a surprise $1.7 billion payment was given earlier this month to the Iranian regime, rather than to American victims of terrorism linked to the government in Tehran.
“There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran,” Boehner noted. “Why would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims?
“This is the United States of America. We don’t stand with tyrants. We stand up to tyrants. It’s the way this great nation was born,” Boehner said.
“I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world,” the former speaker continued. “It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people.”
The full text of former Speaker Boehner’s remarks as prepared appears below.
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REMARKS AS PREPARED:
FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER JOHN BOEHNER (R-OH)
U.S. FOUNDATION FOR LIBERTY
FEBRUARY 26, 2016
Thank you to the U.S. Foundation for Liberty for organizing this event to help educate the American people about the threats posed by the Iranian regime, and options to stop them.
And a special thanks to all the Members of the Iranian American community who are here today because you’re committed to the vision of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran.
I’ve been a private citizen now for almost four months, after being in the U.S. House of Representatives for nearly a quarter century.
Many assume I’ve spent most of the past four months playing golf.
Well, yes, I’ll admit, I’ve played a little golf, and yes, I suppose you can say I’ve made up for some lost time.
But you know, when you get down to it, life is really about finding balance. And I’ve found a nice balance: having fun, getting acquainted with becoming a grandfather, doing some travel; but also doing some speeches, and some events for my former colleagues.
On the day I announced my departure, I rolled up to the podium in the House Radio & TV Gallery singing “Zip a Dee Doo Da.”
I’d been planning my exit for a while, and hey, I’ll admit it: it felt pretty good to be liberated.
But the fact of the matter is, there are also a lot of things I care deeply about and will never stop caring about, whether I’m in office or not.
One of those things is the security of our nation, and the world, in the face of the global threat we know as international terrorism.
When I was speaker, I got a special glimpse of hell. I’m talking about the threat of a global enemy that seeks to destroy innocent life for the purpose of supporting its own violent, radicalized goals.
All of America saw it up close 14 years ago, in the attacks on this city and the World Trade Center in which thousands of our countrymen lost their lives.
As speaker, I learned everything I could about the nature of this threat – a threat that has grown in the 14 years since 9/11.
I saw the threat from many different angles as speaker: through conversations with people at home and abroad; through security briefings; through interactions I was privileged to have with the leaders of other nations.
Once you’ve gotten a glimpse of the true nature of this global enemy, you don’t forget it. It stays with you. It follows you everywhere.
And I’m sorry to say it’s a global enemy that we, the United States of America, are effectively bankrolling at this very moment through the misguided policies of the current administration.
I spoke out against this as speaker of the House. Repeatedly. And I will continue to speak out against it now as a private citizen of the United States.
And so I’m deeply honored that you’ve asked me to deliver the keynote address for this important event at this critical time.
This is an important event. There’s a message that the citizens of both countries – the United States, and Iran – need to hear.
The American people need to be reminded about the nature of the threat posed to the world by the regime in Iran. . .a regime that, in spite of the “deal” brokered by the current administration, continues to pursue its nuclear ambitions, and continues to finance terrorist activity.
The Iranian people need to hear a message as well. They need to hear that the people of the United States stand with them – not with the regime that for decades has oppressed them, stifled their liberties, and crushed their dreams.
The people of Iran – the victims of the Iranian regime – need to hear that the United States stands with them. Sadly, for the past eight years, they’ve heard the opposite message from our government.
It’s a message amplified and underscored, tragically, by the flawed nuclear agreement reached between President Obama and the Iranian regime.
Never in the history of our country has something with so many consequences for our national security been rammed through with such little support.
It’s a deal that rewards the Iranian regime with sanctions relief while allowing it to stay on a path to develop a nuclear weapon.
Let’s stop for a moment and think about who the government of United States of America – the mightiest nation on Earth; the beacon of liberty shining throughout the world – has struck a deal with.
This is a regime that is the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism.
This is a regime propped up by quote-unquote “elections” in which all of the candidates are vetted in advance by a panel appointed by the Supreme Leader – and anybody who doesn’t swear allegiance to the supreme leader and “the Islamic Republic” is thrown out.
This is a regime that will use its windfall of new money to threaten its neighbors and support terror networks that are a direct threat to the American people and our allies.
This is a regime shielded by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, which is led by military officers linked to human rights violations and terrorism, who have supplied militants with weapons intended to kill Americans.
This the same Revolutionary Guard that, it was reported this week, is in the advanced stages of planning a terror attack on passenger planes in Southeast Asia.
For years we have also seen a steady stream of evidence to indicate that the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Tehran is working hard to establish a foothold in the Western Hemisphere, on the doorstep of the United States.
Evidence was presented to Congress as recently as last year showing the Iranian regime is advising troublemakers in Latin America on its proven methods of stifling civilian dissent and financing oppressive paramilitary forces.
I led a congressional mission to South America in 2012. During that journey, my colleagues and I heard repeatedly about efforts by Iran to create an economic and strategic partnership with Venezuela and other rogue nations. . .a partnership aimed at establishing a stronghold for Iranian influence in the West.
Last summer, Venezuela signed a pact that formally established an economic partnership with the Iranian regime.
There is little question that the Iranian regime seeks use the resources of this partnership to bankroll both its nuclear ambitious and its sponsorship of terrorist activity throughout the globe.
Incredibly, tragically, the Obama administration chose to cut a deal with this regime – legitimizing it, emboldening it, empowering it. . .supplying it with the financial and political oxygen it needs to not only survive, but thrive in a rapidly-changing world.
It’s bad enough for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are confusing; when it’s hard to tell the right side from the wrong side. It’s even worse for the United States to have the wrong policy when things are crystal clear.
In pursuing the deal with Iran, President Obama refused to listen. He ignored the concerns of the American people, national security experts, and a bipartisan majority in the Congress.
Americans were promised that the deal would be built on verification.
Well, the independent Government Accountability Office (GAO) just this week is out with a study that documents “potential challenges in monitoring and verifying Iran’s implementation of certain nuclear-related commitments.”
These are the kinds of details it might have been helpful to have before the agreement was forced upon America, and the world.
As I said on the House floor in September: it’s such a bad deal, the ayatollah won’t even have to cheat to be just steps away from a nuclear weapon.
Americans were also promised the deal would address Iran’s status as the world’s leading sponsor of terror.
But the deal hands Iran billions to support additional terrorist activities, and provides relief to the “shadow commander” responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American troops in Iraq.
I wish I could say my concerns have eased somewhat since leaving office, but I’m afraid I can’t.
As the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, my friend Ed Royce of California, noted last month:
Just hours after the agreement’s implementation, the regime disqualified 2,967 of roughly 3,000 moderate candidates from running in the parliamentary elections.
The Iranian regime also conducted missile tests this winter in open defiance of the United States — an act of defiance that drew little more than a helpless shrug from the Obama administration.
Then Iran’s president directed his generals to accelerate its intercontinental missile program – a program aimed, ultimately, at striking the United States.
And just weeks ago, the Obama administration announced what appears to be a $1.7 billion ransom payment to the Iranian regime, coming on the same day four American political prisoners were released.
While we clearly welcome the release of these Americans, there are huge questions about it that have gone unanswered.
The administration indicates this $1.7 billion payment was made to resolve a longstanding Iranian claim made through the “Iran-U.S. Claims Tribunal,” based in The Hague.
I’ve got a question for the administration.
There are Americans who have longstanding claims at the Hague as well. . .Americans who are victims of the terrorism sponsored by the Iranian regime, who’ve been awarded judgements against Iran.
With all due respect: why in the world would we transfer this money to the terrorist-sponsoring regime in Iran instead of compensating these American victims?
Chairman Royce has asked this question, and the Administration owes the American people some answers.
Real change in Iran cannot be achieved through billion-dollar payouts and one-sided deals.
The dream of a democratic, secular, non-nuclear Iran cannot be attained through the appeasement of a regime that oppresses its own people.
The transformation of the regime in Iran is only achievable through strength: a strong and resolute stance by the United States and the free world.
This is the United States of America. We don’t stand with tyrants. We stand up to tyrants! It’s the way this great nation was born.
I hope and pray that the next president of the United States will right these wrongs and send this message loudly and unequivocally to people throughout the world.
It’s a message that must be heard everywhere – from the corridors of power here in Washington, to the streets of Tehran – and backed by the concrete will of a strong president with the confidence of the American people.
I’m grateful for the chance to be with you today. I look forward to your questions.