RESOLUTION OF CONDEMNATION REGARDING IRAN -- (House of Representatives - February 16, 2006)
Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise in strong support of House Concurrent Resolution 341, a resolution that I had the pleasure of drafting with my good friends, the distinguished chairman of the House International Relations Committee, HENRY HYDE, and our ranking member, Congressman TOM LANTOS.
I want to express my appreciation to our leadership for recognizing the importance for the House to be heard on this important issue and for moving this resolution expeditiously to the floor today.
Madam Speaker, for at least two decades, the Iranian regime has been pursuing a covert nuclear program using multiple approaches and technology to achieve a nuclear status. It has undertaken a number of efforts for the manufacture and testing of centrifuges, including at facilities owned by military industrial organizations.
It has sought completion of a heavy water reactor that would be well suited for plutonium production, while seeking uranium enrichment through the use of lasers.
The Iran saga within the context of the International Atomic Energy Agency began almost 4 years ago. Every step along the way, Iran has demonstrated contempt for the request of the International Atomic Energy Agency and has mocked the EU 3 nations composed of France, Great Britain and Germany, as they provided incentives to convince Iran to suspend its enrichment activities.
It is important to quickly summarize the sequence of events of the last few years, Madam Speaker, in order to fully comprehend the need for this resolution as a basis for stronger legislative action regarding Iran.
In November of 2003, for example, the IAEA reported that Iran had been developing an undeclared nuclear enrichment program for close to two decades and had covertly imported nuclear material and equipment, had carried out over 110 unreported experiments to produce uranium metal, it had separated plutonium, and it had concealed many other aspects of its nuclear facilities and activities.
That same month, Iran informed the International Atomic Energy Agency of its decision to temporarily suspend enrichment-related and reprocessing activities. It stated that the suspension would cover all activities in the Natanz enrichment facility, the production of all feed material for enrichment and the importation of any enrichment-related items.
But that was not to be, Madam Speaker. Iran continuously reinterpreted its commitment. By September of 2004, Iran announced that it had resumed large-scale uranium conversion. The International Atomic Energy Agency called on Iran to stop. Then Secretary of State Colin Powell called for the Iran case to be referred to the United Nations Security Council for sanctions to be imposed.
Faced with this possibility, Iran temporarily halts these activities in those nuclear facilities known to the International Atomic Energy Agency and the EU 3.
By April of 2005, Iran announces that it will resume uranium conversion in the Isfahan facility. This was met with a warning from the EU 3 that their negotiations on trade and economic incentives with Iran would end if Iran acted on this threat.
In August of 2005, the new radical leader is installed as Iran's new president. Immediately following, Iran proceeded to remove the International Atomic Energy Agency seals on the uranium conversion plant at Isfahan, announced that it could successfully use biotechnology for its nuclear program, decreasing the cost for the production of the feed material for nuclear weapons. It announced that it would provide nuclear technology to other Islamic states. Iran's defense minister said that it is Iran's absolute right to have access to nuclear arms, and Iran's leader publicly stated his willingness to share nuclear expertise with other Islamic nations.
The IAEA inspectors were finally allowed into the Parchin military site. However, after all the time Iran was given to sanitize this site, that is to hide, to remove all signs of their nuclear activities, even IAEA inspectors and foreign diplomats acknowledged in news reports that they did not expect the inspections to yield any firm results.
Experts further noted that there may be no nuclear material present at Parchin if the Iranians did dry testing of nuclear bomb simulations.
Fast forward to Tuesday of this very week. Madam Speaker, on Valentine's Day, 2006, the Iranian Atomic Energy Organization announced it has restarted uranium enrichment efforts which could also be developed for use in nuclear weapons.
In sum, referral of the Iran case to the U.N. Security Council has been a long time coming. We are gratified that the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors earlier this month voted to report the Iran case to the Security Council, but it should not stop there, Madam Speaker.
H. Con. Res. 341 therefore calls on all members of the U.N. Security Council to immediately consider the report and take the necessary steps to address Iran's behavior. The resolution frames the debate by condemning in the strongest possible terms the Iranian regime's repeated violations of its international obligations.
More importantly, it underscores that, as a result of these violations, Iran no longer has the right to develop any aspect of a nuclear fuel cycle.
As President Bush stated on February 11, 2004, proliferators must not be allowed to cynically manipulate the NPT to acquire the material and the infrastructure necessary for manufacturing illegal weapons.
H. Con. Res. 341 reiterates previous U.S. calls to responsible members of the international community to impose economic sanctions to deny Iran the resources and the ability to develop nuclear weapons.
But the grave threat posed by Iran is not limited to its nuclear pursuit. H. Con. Res. 341 therefore refers to Iran's support for Islamic jihadist activities worldwide.
Madam Speaker, it includes language highlighting that Iran has been designated as a state sponsor of terrorism for over two decades and, according to our own State Department reports on global terrorism, it remains the most active state sponsor of terrorism worldwide.
Madam Speaker, too much time has already passed. Let us not waste anymore. Let us begin by adopting this resolution and send a strong message to the Iranian regime and other potential proliferators that this behavior will not be tolerated.
Madam Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Madam Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume to refute some of the statements that have been made against the resolution.
Madam Speaker, H. Con. Res. 341 clearly outlines the Iran threat, not just as assessed by the United States, not just as assessed by the Europeans, but by the International Atomic Energy Agency. After dealing with the Iran case for over 3 years, it reaffirms the position of the United States, of the U.S. Congress, as articulated through the passage of previous measures, that Iran has forfeited any right for any access to nuclear technology or materials.
In response to previous statements regarding this resolution and sanctions, stating that it would isolate the Iranian people, on the contrary, Madam Speaker, sanctions would empower the Iranian people because it would weaken this regime.
More importantly, due to the Iran economy's vulnerabilities, the sanctions and the denial of billions of dollars of oil investments would deny the regime in Tehran the funds that they need to carry out this nuclear program and to continue with its extremist terrorist activities.
In closing, I would like to remind my colleagues that in the summer of 2001 Iran's ayatollah expressed Iran's commitment to bring America to its knees. Those were his statements. He added that ``the giant will fall,'' the giant being the United States of America.
Combine this with what the director of the National Intelligence Agency, John Negroponte, said in his recent testimony. He said, while the assessment of when Iran would go nuclear is about 5 to 10 years from now, he also expressed grave concerns that we did not really know the extent of Iran's nuclear activities. He said that Iran's 20-year pursuit of a covert program means that we cannot truly confirm any specific timeframe.
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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume in closing.
Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman, my good friend, the gentleman from California (Mr. Lantos), for his wise words. It is always a pleasure to work with him as well as with our chairman, HENRY HYDE.
Mr. Speaker the International Atomic Energy Agency in its February 4, 2006 resolution said that after nearly 3 years the agency is not yet in a position to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran.
Iran needs to hear our message loud and clear. The United Nations Security Council now has the Iran case after 20 years of Iran's covert activities and after 3 years of mocking the international community. Let us send a message loud and clear today. Let us pass this resolution.