MANZA, Albania (AP) — Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday denounced the Iranian regime for its “brutality” and urged the Biden administration not to renew a nuclear deal with Tehran, saying it would embolden leaders Iranians.
Pence traveled 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from his home in Indiana to Albania to visit Camp Ashraf-3 which is home to some 3,000 Iranian dissidents from the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq, better known as from MEK.
Speaking at the camp near a small town on a hill 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of the Albanian capital, Tirana, Pence harshly denounced Tehran for brutality, poverty and corruption.
Pence said the election of President Ebrahim Raisi, whom he called a “brutal mass murderer responsible for the massacre of 30,000 political prisoners in 1988”, was “designed to stifle internal dissent and intimidate the Iranian people to let him remain silent”.
He also visited the camp’s museum about what he describes as the death or execution of up to 120,000 Iranians since the Islamist regime came to power in 1979.
The Mujahedeen-e-Khalq began as a Marxist group opposing the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. He supported the 1979 Islamic Revolution, but soon fell out with Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against his clerical government, leading a series of assassinations and bombings in the Islamic Republic.
The MEK then fled to Iraq and supported dictator Saddam Hussein during his bloody eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, leading many in Iran to oppose the group. Although now largely based in Albania, the group claims to operate a network inside Iran.
Pence praised his administration’s time with former President Donald Trump when they canceled the Iran nuclear deal, citing sanctions on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards and bringing back Iran’s oil exports to close to zero.
“A renewed deal with Iran will not block Iran’s path to a nuclear bomb,” Pence warned.
He said a deal “would not benefit the Iranian people in any way, but would “simply strengthen and enrich a corrupt regime that has tormented and tortured the Iranian people for generations.”
Pence urged the Biden administration “to immediately withdraw from all nuclear negotiations with Tehran, to express support for the organized opposition in Iran, and to make it clear that America and our allies will never allow the regime in Tehran to ‘get a nuclear weapon’.
Llazar Semini on Twitter: https://twitter.com/lsemini
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