The following is a transcript from a Fox News interview with Mark Dubowitz on May 19, 2017.
Julie Roginsky: This is a Fox News alert. Iranians voting today in a tight presidential election where the country’s nuclear program looms large. President Hassan Rouhani facing a very serious challenge from hardliner Ebrahim Raisi. The Conservative candidate accuses the incumbent of failing to capitalize on the program, which was supposed to boost Iran’s economy.
Meanwhile, the U.S. announcing new sanctions over Tehran’s ballistic missile program. The sanctions targeting senior Iranian defense officials as well as a Chinese network accused of helping to fund the program. This comes as President Trump kicks off his very first overseas trip with a visit to Iran’s main rival in the region, Saudi Arabia.
Let’s bring in Mark Dubowitz, CEO of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mark, thank you so much for talking to us. How big of a danger is the Iranian regime to American and our allies and will the outcome of this election really make any difference?
Mark Dubowitz: Julie, the Iranian regime is the leading state sponsor of terrorism in the world. It’s got a nuclear infrastructure. Under this nuclear deal, it’s got a patient pathway to nuclear weapons and an ITBM. So think about North Korea, but with an economy that is going to be much more powerful and with a revolutionary ideology that is expansive and seeks at least domination in the Islamic world.
Julie Roginsky: This election ultimately though has little effect. This is not like the United States and our politics on the Iranian regime considering the only person with real in Iran is the Supreme Leader. So how does that impact the Trump administration’s strategy then to get a successful nuclear deal if sanctions don’t work?
Mark Dubowitz: Well, Julie, that’s exactly right. I mean, this is not a normal election. This is the sham election. It’s going to be a rigged election no matter which way it goes. It’s between two hardcore revolutionaries, Rouhani and Raisi, who are dedicated revolutionaries and are dedicated to imperialism abroad, repression at home and a nuclear weapons program. How it will affect the Trump administration’s policy is that they should ignore this presidential election. They should focus on the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, who really has all of the power and they need a comprehensive strategy to use all instruments of American power to subvert and roll back Iranian aggression.
Julie Roginsky: Yeah. I mean, first of all the Office of Foreign Assets Control, OFAC, designates a defense official who facilitated the sale of explosives to Syria, what we just mentioned in the intro there. Talk about Syria and Iran and the relationship there. After President Trump delivered U.S. airstrikes, obviously delivering a very strong bold message to the Assad regime. What does he do to send a similar message to Iran and China, by the way, considering that China based network was also designated by OFAC for supporting Iran’s military by supplying millions of dollars worth of missile applicable items?
Mark Dubowitz: That’s exactly right, Julie. In fact, that Iranian defense official who was designated was designated for supplying not just explosives, but actually was supporting the very research center in Syria responsible for the chemical weapons attacks on Syria’s people. So what the Trump administration needs to do is continue to do what they’re doing, which is a much more muscular policy where they recognize that the Assad regime is a close Iranian ally. It is not an ally in the war against ISIS. And that they need to roll back Iranian aggression in Syria, in Iraq, in Lebanon, in Yemen, and they need a government approach to do that country by country in order to subvert Iranian power.
Julie Roginsky: All right. Mark Dubowitz, great to see you. Thank you so much.
Mark Dubowitz: Thanks, Julie.