Why We Can’t Trust Iran
Do you remember how ABC’s “Nightline with Ted Koppel” began? Its first broadcast was on November 8, 1979. Four days earlier, a group of Iranian students seized the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and took 66 Americans hostage, just months after Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khomeini took over Iran.
ABC started Nightline as a special nighttime program to update Americans on the fate of the hostages. Each day for the next 440 days, Americans followed the unfolding events of the hostage crisis and its trigger, Iran’s Islamic Revolution.
The takeover was not a random act by radical students but a demonstration of the extremist nature of the Islamic Republic and its hatred of America – a hatred that hasn’t vanished, even as the regime is on the verge of signing a nuclear deal with the United States.
The deal between the P5+1 and Iran would likely leave thousands of Iranian centrifuges running and enriching uranium – the fissile material that could eventually be used for nuclear weapons. The deal would also permit Iran to maintain a plutonium path to a bomb and continue to develop long-range ballistic missiles, which would be delivery vehicles for a nuclear bomb.
These realities raise some serious questions: Can we trust the Iranian regime with an intact nuclear infrastructure that leaves Tehran within a year of building a nuclear weapon? Can we trust a regime that spreads havoc in the Middle East and threatens American lives?
On day 26 of the Iranian hostage crisis, Koppel reported that President Jimmy Carter’s mother, Lillian, had vented, “If I had a million dollars, I’d look for someone to kill the Ayatollah Khomeini.” When she spoke those words, it was not yet even known how brutally Iranian revolutionaries had been treating their American prisoners. As some hostages later recounted, beatings, mock executions, and cruel episodes of Russian roulette were part of their ordeal.
During the same period, the revolutionary regime executed thousands of its own citizens. American hostages put in Iranian prisons who witnessed these executions wondered if they would be next.
For 444 days, the United States was in a state of crisis that kept many Americans awake at night. And since then, Iran has continued to attack America with impunity. Some may still remember the attacks against U.S. embassies and military personnel in the Middle East carried out under Ayatollah Khomeini’s guidance in the 1980s.
More recently, the Iranian regime was the key supplier of improvised explosive devices to insurgents in Iraq that killed thousands of American servicemen. And three decades after the conclusion of the Iran hostage crisis, Iran continues to take Americans hostage – since 2007, more than 10 American citizens have been imprisoned in Iran on trumped-up charges. Four of them – a Christian pastor, a journalist, an ex-marine, and a former FBI agent – remain behind bars.
That’s not to mention the other terrors that Iran has unleashed on the world, from Syria to Yemen. Iran is the world’s leading sponsor of terror – and that’s according to the U.S. government.
As U.S. negotiators discuss how to resolve the nuclear crisis with their Iranian counterparts, chants calling for “Death to America” continue throughout the Islamic Republic. Just weeks ago, Iran’s Revolutionary Guards destroyed a mock U.S. aircraft carrier during a military drill. Though some pundits claim Tehran has moderated, clearly the regime and Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei have not abandoned their hostility towards America and what it stands for.
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are scorned by an Iranian regime that promotes terror and violence, not only against its enemies but against its own people. The U.S., demonized by the ayatollahs as the “Great Satan,” is hated not for its role in the Middle East but for its values of freedom and democracy. These values undercut the legitimacy of a regime that has stayed in power for the past 36 years largely through violence, murder, and intimidation.
Despite the regime’s constant anti-American propaganda, many Iranians look at America with admiration and aspire to live in comparable freedom. Those who speak up for liberty and equality face imprisonment, torture, and even murder at the hands of the regime.
Given the Iranian regime’s past and present atrocities – towards its citizens and its perceived enemies – American leaders should recognize the limitations, if not the folly, of a nuclear agreement with Iran that does not address the regime’s violent and extremist behavior. We must not forget about the thousands of Americans who were murdered and maimed at the behest of the Iranian regime. They not only remind us about the nature of a regime that disrespects human life and dignity, their memory also obligates us to distrust our enemies until they abandon their antagonism and aggression against us.
Simone Dinah Hartmann is Vice President of Operations for United Against Nuclear Iran (uani.com) and co-publisher of two anthologies on Iran and its international supporters