Washington, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today issued a letter to United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM), demanding a full accounting of why an Iranian propagandist and former regime official participated as a keynote speaker in a STRATCOM-sponsored event.
Press reports and a STRATCOM official statement indicate that Seyed Hossein Mousavian, a former spokesman for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team and a former senior staffer for the regime’s Supreme National Security Council, was a featured participant in the August 2023 STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium.
In addition to Mousavian’s former posts supporting the regime, he continues to demonstrate sympathy and support for the adversarial government. In 2020, Mousavian termed Iranian terrorist Qassem Soleimani a “hero fighting terrorism” and has repeatedly mocked American officials living under the threat of assassination by Iranian-backed actors because of their role in formulating tough-on-Iran policies.
The Armed Services leaders criticized the decision to allow Mousavian to engage in the forum, expressing concern that it suggests insufficient focus on the increasingly pressing nuclear threats from American adversaries.
“Providing Mousavian with an officially sanctioned U.S. Government platform for spreading historical falsehoods and Iranian regime propaganda is profoundly ill-advised,” the lawmakers wrote. “The decision to invite Mousavian to address its Deterrence Symposium calls into question the judgement of any personnel involved in such a decision, and leads us to question whether the command is appropriately focused on meeting the rapidly growing strategic threats to the United States and its allies.”
Read the full letter here or below.
Dear General Cotton,
We write with deep concern regarding the appearance of a notorious Iranian propagandist and former senior regime official, Seyed Hossein Mousavian, as a keynote speaker to the 2023 STRATCOM Deterrence Symposium on August 17, 2023.
A propagandist of the regime since 1980, Mousavian served as the Iranian regime’s Ambassador to Germany in 1992 when the regime’s intelligence operatives assassinated four Iranian dissidents in Berlin. In response, German authorities forced Mousavian to leave the country along with several other Iranian “diplomats” and intelligence operatives.
In the subsequent decades, Mousavian served as spokesman for the Iranian nuclear negotiating team and as a senior staffer for the regime’s Supreme National Security Council. Despite Mousavian’s past claims that he is an exile of the Iranian government, former Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif stated in 2016 that Mousavian has remained a loyal friend of the Iranian regime and “continued to, and continues to, work hard for the [Islamic Republic of Iran].”
Recent actions and remarks by Mousavian demonstrate his continued support for the Iranian regime. For example, in 2020, Mousavian attended the funeral in Iran of Qassem Soleimani, the Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps – Qods Force that was responsible for the deaths of at least 603 U.S. servicemembers in Iraq. Mousavian claimed that Soleimani was “a hero fighting terrorism”.
Mousavian has also repeatedly mocked U.S. officials under assassination threat from the Iranian regime. In a 2022 documentary paying homage to Soleimani, Mousavian smiled while referring to Iranian death threats against former Special Representative for Iran Brian Hook. He gleefully said [in Farsi]: “An American told me that Brian Hook’s wife can’t sleep, and she cries and trembles as they say they’ll kill Hook...that is how shaken they are!”
While we appreciate the importance of improving our understanding of adversary perspectives and motivations in formulating deterrence policies, providing Mousavian with an officially sanctioned U.S. Government platform for spreading historical falsehoods and Iranian regime propaganda is profoundly ill-advised. The decision to invite Mousavian to address its Deterrence Symposium calls into question the judgement of any personnel involved in such a decision, and leads us to question whether the command is appropriately focused on meeting the rapidly growing strategic threats to the United States and its allies.
We request answers to the following questions by September 29, 2023.
1. Please provide the names and positions of all officials responsible for approving the invitation to Mousavian.
2. Did STRATCOM provide compensation for transportation, lodging or a per diem to Mr. Mousavian? Was Mousavian provided with an honorarium? If so, how much?