MANSA, Albania (AP) — Former U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday condemned the Iranian regime’s “brutal behavior” and urged the Biden administration not to renew the nuclear deal with Tehran, saying it would embolden Iran’s leadership.
Pence flew 5,000 miles (8,000 kilometers) from his home in Indiana to Albania to visit Ashraf-3 camp, home to some 3,000 Iranian dissidents from Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (the most famous MEK) home.
Speaking from a camp near a small mountain town 30 kilometers (19 miles) west of the Albanian capital Tirana, Pence severely condemned Tehran’s brutality, poverty and corruption.
Pence said the election of President Ebrahim Raisi, whom he called “a brutal mass murderer responsible for the 1988 massacre of 30,000 political prisoners,” was “intended to quash internal dissent and intimidate the people of Iran into remaining silent.”
He also visited the concentration camp’s museum, which describes the deaths or executions of as many as 120,000 Iranians since the Islamic regime came to power in 1979.
Mujahedeen-e-Khalq was originally a Marxist group opposed to the rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It supported the Islamic Revolution in 1979 but soon fell out with Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and turned against his civilian government, carrying out a series of assassinations and bombings in the Islamic Republic.
MEK later fled to Iraq and supported dictator Saddam Hussein in the bloody eight-year war with Iran in the 1980s, leading many in Iran to oppose the group. Although now primarily based in Albania, the group claims to operate a network inside Iran.
Pence praised his time in office with former President Donald Trump when they scrapped the Iran nuclear deal, mentioned sanctions imposed on Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and brought Iran’s oil exports to near zero.
“Renewing the deal with Iran will not stop Iran from building a nuclear bomb,” Pence warned.
A deal “will not benefit the Iranian people in any way, but will only strengthen and enrich the corrupt regime that has tormented and tortured the Iranian people for generations,” he said.
Pence urged the Biden administration to “immediately withdraw from all nuclear negotiations with Tehran, express support for Iran’s organized opposition, and make clear that the United States and our allies will never allow the Tehran regime to acquire nuclear weapons.”
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