Obama Statement to Rally Opposing Iran's Nuclear Ambitions
U.S. Senator Barack Obama today released the following statement on ensuring Iran does not achieve its nuclear ambition to the organizers of the "The National Rally to End the Threat Now."
"I commend you for holding this important rally, and regret that I could not join you today. You are coming together at a critical moment to send a clear message to Iran: it is time for the Iranian government to cease its dangerous and reprehensible behavior.
Iran is now the greatest strategic challenge to America in the Middle East in a generation, and poses a grave threat to Israel's security. We do not accept Iran's support and encouragement of sectarian violence in Iraq. We do not accept their sponsorship of terrorism throughout the Middle East. We do not accept their pursuit of nuclear weapons, in defiance of the international community. And we are outraged by President Ahmadinejad's vile statements, from his denial of the Holocaust to his declaration that Israel should be "wiped off the map."
"Let's be clear: the terrible atrocities of the Holocaust are historical facts, and their denial is offensive and outrageous. We know that the most powerful way to confront the statements of President Ahmadinejad is to shine the light of truth on his hateful lies. We should never shrink from raising our voices to put our own values up against the bankrupt values of the Iranian regime. Let President Ahmadinejad learn, here in America, that we are united in rejecting Iran's support for terrorism, its pursuit of nuclear weapons, and his comments which offend Israel, Jews, and all people of goodwill.
"We also need to match our words with policies that pressure Iran to change its behavior. It's time for tough, sustained, and direct diplomacy - backed by real pressure - from the United States, our friends and allies, and the United Nations. Iran must know that it can give up its nuclear ambitions and support for terror, or it will face further isolation. And the Iranian people must know that we have no quarrel with them: we seek a future in which their aspirations for peace and opportunity are enabled by their government, not obstructed.
"One critical tool in applying pressure on the Iranian government is divestment. Our friends in Florida and in my home state of Illinois have joined a grassroots movement and passed laws to divest their pension plans of businesses that invest in Iran's energy sector. Florida's actions alone will stop $1.3 billion from going into the Iranian budget. But these efforts could be stopped if the bipartisan Iran Sanctions Enabling Act is not passed by the Congress. This strong, bipartisan bill would authorize these divestment efforts and shine a light on companies who do business with Iran. Its only obstacle is a single Senator who placed an anonymous "hold" on the bill.
It's time for Washington to catch up with you. It's time to do more than condemn Iran's actions - it's time for our own actions to apply real pressure on Iran. We will never waver in the face of President Ahmadinejad's rhetoric. We should never worry that his message will defeat ours. We must unite to make it clear that the future does not belong to hate, it belongs to hope."