Statement in support of HR 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act
Mr. Speaker, Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons puts the entire globe at risk.
Iran has proven itself to be less than truthful in its discussions about its nuclear weapons program. It hid its nuclear enrichment facility in Qom from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It told the world it was enriching uranium for non-military purposes, but the enrichment site at Qom and elsewhere appear to have no civilian application.
And while sanctions have had some impact, Iran has persisted in its efforts to obtain nuclear weapons. Iran has also succeeding in evading the impact of existing sanctions by creating one front company after another to shield its activities.
What’s particularly troubling, is that at the same time as it is building its nuclear program, Iran has continued to threaten its neighbors. It has armed and funded Hezbollah and Hamas, which are dedicated to eradicating the state of Israel. In 2005, Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said that Israel should be wiped off the face of the map. In 2008, he said: “The people of the region would not miss the narrowest opportunity to annihilate this false regime.”
But Israel is not Iran’s only target. In November a senior commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard threatened to bomb NATO bases in Turkey. Iran is currently threatening to close the straits of Hormuz, which will affect shipping, with particular impact on the crude oil exported from Saudi Arabia, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and Iraq and liquid natural gas from Qatar.
Given Iran’s success in developing a nuclear program, a number of its neighbors have suggested that they may follow suit, creating further instability in the region. Earlier this month, Turki al-Faisal, who has served as the Saudi intelligence chief and as ambassador to the United States, suggested that Saudi Arabia may seek nuclear weapons. Wikileaks revealed that Egypt’s leaders told US officials that Egypt would acquire nuclear weapons if Iran did. This lends greater urgency to the need to persuade Iran to end its nuclear ambitions.
Nuclear weapons are particularly threatening when held by a nation whose leaders have no apparent respect for human life. Iran has an unrivaled record of human rights abuses, from the imprisonment of people of the Ba’hai faith, to the use of the death penalty against minors, to the use of torture and amputation against prisoners, to discrimination against women, to the suppression and murder of members of the democracy movement. With thousands of its citizens murdered, tortured or imprisoned, Iran’s record of human rights abuses is among the worst in the world.
History shows that when dictators threaten their neighbors, there’s good reason to fear. And given Iran’s history of threats, its dedicated progress in enriching uranium, its evident determination to hide its nuclear program from the world and its abysmal human rights record, the world should do everything possible to hinder it from obtaining nuclear weapons.
That’s why I strongly support HR 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which would implement a common-sense enhancement of existing sanctions – by providing greater options to sanction entities doing business with the Central Bank of Iran; by expanding the types petroleum-related activities that could trigger sanctions to include certain petroleum resource agreements with Iran, purchasing Iranian debt and supporting port facility construction and management; by imposing sanctions on individuals involved in human rights abuses or terrorism; by imposing sanctions on those who do business with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard; by allowing states or other organizations to divest from Iran; by identifying those entities that are helping Iran evade sanctions, among other things.
I urge my colleagues to join me in voting in support of HR 1905.