Ambassador Robert Joseph, Confirms the Need for Tougher Sanctions Against Iran’s Regime

I, Robert Joseph, former Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, provide the following statement for consideration in the ongoing judicial proceedings in Belgium to prosecute those allegedly involved in the attempted terrorist attack on the Free Iran gathering on June 30, 2018, near Paris.

On Tuesday, a Belgian court heard the appeal of three Iranian operatives accused of attempting to attack an Iranian opposition gathering in France in 2018. Assadollah Assadi, a high-ranking Iranian ambassador, was also detained as the commander of this terrorist network.

Hundreds of well-known Western politicians and over 100,000 Iranians from all around the world attended the “Free Iran” meeting in 2018, which was the intended venue.

Despite the fact that this operation was foiled and a Tehran operative was apprehended, there is growing concerned about the Iranian regime’s terrorist and espionage network. In this regard, the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) spoke with Ambassador Robert Joseph, who was one of the dignitaries that attended the 2018 gathering. Amb. Joseph is also a plaintiff in the thwarted bombing case from 2018.

You were present in the 2018 Free Iran gathering; please take us back to that day.

“As I mentioned in my statement to the Belgium court, I vividly recall the enormous exhibition hall with a large VIP section where I was sitting with hundreds of parliamentarians from around the world, renowned human rights activists, and other accomplished guests from every professional field. Clearly, the main target of the terrorist plot was Mrs. Rajavi, head of the NCRI and sponsor of the meeting.  Like others in my section, I was sitting near Mrs. Rajavi. But there were also thousands of participants within a short distance from the VIP section. The death toll of this savage attack would have been catastrophic, with casualties in the hundreds, if not more.”

After the conviction of Assadi, what were your expectations from the EU?

“First, as the court found, this was a deliberate act of state terrorism ordered by and conducted by the Iranian regime. Assadi, the principal defendant, was a senior official of the Ministry of Intelligence and Security, assigned to the Iranian Embassy in Vienna and masquerading as a diplomat.

Second, Assadi was not acting alone. He was not a rogue agent. He was in regular contact with higher-level officials in Tehran, receiving his orders directly from them. He took personal possession of the bomb, which was transported on a commercial airline coming from Tehran.  The bomb was designed by professionals to cause maximum damage, maximum death, and maximum destruction of those attending the convention in Paris.

Third, Assadi using his diplomatic status as a cover for his criminal activities had been running a network of agents in Europe from his position in the embassy. And there can be no doubt that his true identity was known within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, making the MFA complicit in this terrorist act.

Now the EU and the US should act decisively, knowing that further concessions to the regime will only bring more injustice to the Iranian people and more criminal and terrorist acts.  For the EU, this should mean the adoption of a firm policy, including the designation of the MOIS and IRGC as terrorist entities, withdrawing the legal status of all of the regime’s agents in Europe, and dramatically reducing the level of diplomatic relations until the regime has demonstrated its commitment to forgo terrorist activities.

For the Biden administration, the guilty verdicts of Assadi and his accomplices should weigh heavily in its Iran policy. This act of state terrorism should have a sobering effect. It should end any move to resurrect the appeasement policies of the past.”

Assadi’s three accomplices appealed the verdict, but Assadi didn’t; why?

“I think this was most likely the regime’s decision, not Assadi’s personal choice.  By this decision, the regime has effectively acknowledged Assadi’s guilt and its own role in the crime. The regime is hoping to avoid any further international attention to the case and its role in sponsoring and committing terrorist acts.  The regime is aware that, even if Assadi appealed, it wold not achieve anything except more attention to the case and the regime’s terrorism in general.”

Usually, the Iranian regime uses its proxy groups for terrorist acts, but this time, they used their diplomat directly. Why? What is the message of that?

“That is right, most often the regime has sponsored others to do its dirty work when it comes to terrorist activities.  This was the first time that an Iranian regime official has been caught red-handed and convicted of an act of state terrorism. This brazen act reflects the desperation of a regime that has lost all credibility, all legitimacy, with the Iranian people.  This is a regime that has committed crimes against humanity through the mass murder of over 100,000 of its own citizens from the 1980s until today.

This is a regime that is characterized by pervasive corruption, foreign aggression, support of dictators such as Assad in Syria, and the bankrolling of terrorist groups.  This religious dictatorship has squandered the wealth of the Iranian nation and turned a great nation into a pariah state – a state that has now been proven to commit direct acts of terrorism in Europe and around the globe.”



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