Madam Speaker, I thank the leadership for allocating 1 hour to me of floor time.
As a senior member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and as Chair of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Nonproliferation, I will take the next hour to focus on our foreign policy and to see whether it is focused correctly on the threats that face us in the first quarter of the 21st century. Then, if time permits, I will discuss an issue--some would say a threat--that will face us in the second and third quarters of the 21st century.
Madam Speaker, I believe that our foreign policy has been adrift since the end of the Cold War because we have been unable and unwilling to prioritize. Our national case of ADD forces us to focus on whatever international objective flits across our consciousness.
We have an enormous national ego which causes us to believe that we can simultaneously and successfully pursue all our objectives, and that we can defeat evil everywhere we choose to notice it. As a Nation, we punish politicians and pundits who dare to deflate our enormous national ego.
Our bureaucracy opposes any effort to prioritize our objectives because that effort conflicts with the bureaucratic imperative to please every one of its bureaus. Imagine having to go to the Moldova desk in the State Department and say that Moldova's sovereignty over its Transdniestra region cannot be a major national priority. The State Department is pretty much on autopilot, with each of its bureaus focusing on the bureau's function, the bureau's priority, with no one setting overall national priorities.
As a Nation, we have sacrificed 4,000 of our finest, and untold treasure. We did so in Iraq because our leaders told us it was necessary in order to protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction, weapons that did not exist. But just because we are able to sacrifice treasure and lives to protect ourselves from a nuclear program that did not exist does not mean that we can sacrifice our national ego and our bureaucratic imperatives to focus on real threats that do exist.
Now, in addition to these long-standing institutional and psychological barriers to prioritization, at present we face three practical barriers that also prevent us from focusing on the national threats that we should really focus on, that we should give our priority to. The first of these is our unhealthy fixation on Iraq. This fixation began with President Bush. It now afflicts us all.
Now, we are told that morally we must stay in Iraq because we ``broke it,'' but we are told this by the same people who rightfully point out that whatever shape Iraq is in today and whatever shape we leave it in is still superior to where it was under Saddam. Remember, Saddam killed hundreds and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis through his policies. We're told we must stay in Iraq because we risk a humanitarian problem if we leave, while at the same time this Nation ignores actual humanitarian holocausts that are going on in places like Somalia, Chad and Congo. Those humanitarian holocausts don't count because CNN isn't there. And CNN isn't there because our troops aren't there. So our troops must stay in Iraq because CNN is in Iraq, and CNN is in Iraq because our troops are in Iraq. So we must stay there because we are there. This is no way to prioritize our foreign policy.
We are told that if we leave Iraq, terrorists could meet there and plot against us. Imagine how big a national ego we must have to think that we could possibly deprive our enemies of a conference room. The fact is that terrorists can and do plot against us in Somalia, in Yemen, in countless other places, but of course these don't count because CNN isn't there. Remember, however, that 9/11 was plotted in an apartment building in Hamburg, Germany, which makes you wonder why we are staying in Iraq to make sure that terrorists don't have a place to plot against us. So our fixation with Iraq prevents us from prioritizing our foreign policy, prioritizing the need to protect Americans from nuclear attack. But that is just one of the obstacles we face.
The second obstacle we face is an unhealthy fixation on our reflexive, unthinking and implacable anti-Russian attitude. Now, I don't mind being anti-Russian. I do mind being implacably, unthinkingly, and reflexively anti-Russian. Now, part of this stems from our great national hubris. Our foreign policy establishment doesn't like Mr. Putin or his so-called successor, and we don't think that we should have to accommodate anybody we don't like. The fact is that sometimes you do have to do business with people you don't like if you want to carry out a reasonable, prioritized foreign policy. Our politicians tell us that we are at war. Well, the last truly great wartime leader of the United States was President Roosevelt, and he did business with Putin's most venal predecessor.
Now, this reflexive, anti-Russian attitude grew up in large part because of the individuals who are making our foreign policy decisions today. These are people who spent their lives planning and studying and writing their theses on how to surround and defeat the Soviet Union. Old habits die hard, but yesterday's priorities should not dictate tomorrow's priorities.
Now, Putin has given us much to be angry about, but let us take a look at whether this new Cold War, at worst, or very cold peace, at best, started with Moscow or started in Washington.
Now, one issue that has faced us throughout foreign policy is the doctrinal battle between the doctrines of self-determination and territorial integrity. Self-determination, the right of a group of people within a country to split up, split off, and form their own country; territorial integrity, the right of a nation to continue to have and to possess and to control its territory.
In fact, the two great wars fought on American soil were on opposite sides of this doctrinal distinction. Our first great war on our own soil was our war for self-determination, our war for independence. The second great war was the war to protect our territorial integrity from those who sought southern independence. So we have been on both sides of this doctrinal divide. We face this same divide now, territorial integrity versus self-determination.
Let us examine eight places in the general neighborhood of Russia where this doctrinal conflict has come up. You see, we are for self-determination of Kosovo just as we were for the self-determination of the Slovenes and the Croats, which led to the split up of Yugoslavia, and we were for the self-determination of the various republics that made up the Soviet Union. Four times that we were for self-determination--Kosovo, Slovenia, Croatia, and the Soviet Union itself.
But we are against self-determination and instead for territorial integrity in at least four areas also close to Russia. We are against self-determination of the Transdniestra region of Moldova. We are against self-determination for the northern part of Kosovo that would like to self-determine itself out of Kosovo and rejoin Serbia. And we are against self-determination for two regions of the Republic of Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Eight conflicts; four times we support self-determination, four times we support territorial integrity.
Some would say we are inconsistent. This is not the case. We are consistently anti-Russian; consistently, unthinkingly, and reflexively anti-Russian. In all eight of these conflicts, Russia had a strong interest. In most of these conflicts, we had virtually no interest. Who amongst our constituents talks to us about Abkhazia or South Ossetia? Yet every time, in all eight instances, we took a very strong and determined anti-Russian position.
We also have a conflict with Russia over the proposal to build a missile defense system in the Czech Republic and in Poland.
Russia believes that we are rushing to install these installations to create anti-Russian facts on the ground in Eastern Europe. Our position is that those missile defenses will protect Europe from a possible Iranian nuclear-tipped missile. But the Europeans don't particularly want our missile defense system. We have to bribe the Czechs and the Poles to let us put them there. The Germans and the French would just as soon we not build them.
Why are we taking this aggressively anti-Russian position? One would say that the goal is to protect Europe from Iranian nuclear weapons. But wait a minute. We have not even tried to bargain with Russia, to seek their help in preventing Iran from getting the nuclear weapons in the first place. Perhaps in return for not building a missile defense system, we could achieve greater cooperation from Moscow in stopping Iran's nuclear program. But we are unwilling to prioritize. We have as a priority creating anti-Russian facts on ground in the Czech Republic and Poland; and, accordingly, we cannot sacrifice the opportunity to build missile defense systems in those countries just to get Moscow's critical help in preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
I could give you a number of other examples. Let me just focus on one, and that is the recent commercial disputes between Ukraine and Russia. In those disputes we have told these two groups of former Communists of these formerly Communist countries that it is wrong to sell goods, in this case, natural gas, for its fair market value. We have told former Communists that capitalism is wrong. Why? Because capitalism would allow Russia to get more for its natural gas, and our tendency to be reflexively anti-Russian exceeds our tendency to support capitalism. So we face a second practical block to prioritizing our foreign policy, and that is our instinctively anti-Russian attitude.
But we also face a third block to prioritization, which is our failure to recognize how important it is to get the support of world opinion, particularly opinion in Western Europe, in order to achieve what should be our number one national priority, which is protecting the American people from nuclear weapons.
Now, think back to 9/11. We had the sympathy of the whole world. People were ready to follow our leadership. People demonstrated in favor of America in places where they had not demonstrated in favor of America before or since. But then what did we do? We ignored Kyoto. We invaded Iraq. We disdained the International Court of Justice. We built Guantanamo. We angered our friends and our allies with unilateral approaches on the wrong set of issues. Today, who would say that the United States has the support or the sympathy of the world? We need to prioritize. The real threat is nuclear weapons in the wrong hands.
Now, I am going to avoid using the term "weapons of mass destruction'' because that has been a phony and misleading term. It puts nuclear weapons in the same category as chemical or biological weapons. Only nuclear weapons could kill millions of Americans.
Now, I don't want this speech to be too depressing. We are vulnerable. We are institutionally and psychologically unable to focus on how to reduce our vulnerability. But we are still far safer than we have been at other times in our history. In the 1960s we faced a far greater threat. At that time we faced the risk of thousands of Soviet nuclear weapons, 10 megatons or more each. Now we face less than one five-hundredth the arsenal of the Soviet Union in terms of number and less than one five-hundredth in terms of the strength of each nuclear device. So we are far safer now than we were when we, as baby boomers, as elementary school students, were ducking under our desks in air raid drills in order to learn how to protect ourselves from a massive Soviet nuclear attack.
Now, let us say that we could overcome our obstacles to a rational, prioritized foreign policy. What would be our response to the nuclear threat that we face? There are four possible responses to a nuclear threat: Prevention, deterrence, interception, and survival. I will deal briefly with the last three of these and then focus on the first, prevention. And by "prevention'' I mean preventing the wrong people from getting the most powerful weapons.
Now, deterrence and interception are, I think, false hopes because they miss the mark on the delivery system that is most likely to be used by those who wish us harm. For 20 and 30 years, we have talked on this floor about Star Wars or national missile defense, how we're going to hit a bullet with a bullet in outer space. Maybe someday it will work. But missile defense can be rendered irrelevant. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to deliver a nuclear weapon to an American city. A nuclear weapon is a bit smaller than a person, in most cases. You could smuggle one inside a bale of marijuana.
Now, we have had a lot of talk on this floor about how to make our borders more secure and deal with the issue of illegal immigration. To date, our efforts have increased the fee charged by the so-called coyotes to smuggle an illegal immigrant into the United States up from $1,000 to $1,500. This may have a substantial impact on those people who aspire to work in the United States for minimum wage. But whether the cost of bringing in something the size of a person is $1,000 or $10,000 or $100,000 is not going to matter much to the Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps. We are not going to have borders so secure that a truly sophisticated terrorist group or intelligence agency will not be able to bring a bomb across our borders. Keep in mind we have 300 million legal border crossings every year. We have zero patrol officers, zero on the entire border between Alaska and Canada. Between Canada and the lower 48, we have roughly one security official every 30 or 40 miles, and that person is only working 8 hours a day. So smuggling a nuclear weapon will not be difficult for any adversary sophisticated enough to get its hands on a nuclear weapon in the first place.
Not only is smuggling easier, it gives the perpetrator plausible deniability. If you send an intercontinental ballistic missile into the United States, we will know where it came from. On the other hand, if you smuggle one here, you can always deny that you did it or leave some plausible deniability, and deterrence will be undermined, and, as is obvious, interception is made irrelevant if weapons are smuggled into the United States.
Now, I know that the great dictators really want an intercontinental ballistic missile. It's the Viagra of tyrants. But as a practical matter, our enemies will determine that smuggling a nuclear weapon makes more sense for them. It provides them with plausible deniability to deter deterrence. It makes irrelevant all of our missile defenses. The other problem with deterrence is that Iran may not be deterrable, and I will get to that in just a few minutes.
So I have dealt with deterrence and interception. Let us turn to survival, civil defense. This is a subject you are not allowed to talk about on the House floor or anywhere else in polite society. The First Amendment protects many kinds of speech but not talking about civil defense because you have to turn to Americans and say your government may not be able to protect you from nuclear attack. We may be in a circumstance where we can reduce casualties from 200,000 down to 100,000.
Our problem is that the American electorate finds the death of even 100 Americans to be unthinkable.
Now, we could cut casualties in half or by more than half if we prepare civil defense. But if a nuclear weapon the size of the one tested by North Korea went off at the White House, about 2 miles away, the people in this room would survive, but none of us would know what to do or where to turn for information. Should we shelter in place? Should we flee, and if so, in what direction? We need a system to tell Americans what to do. And we have to take Americans into our confidence and tell them that this is a real threat, that we are working to reduce the threat, and that we are working to prepare for the threat.
Now, I know that survival is something that we dealt with in the 1960s when we did those bomb drills I was talking about. What might have been absurd when we did it is now laughed at when it would be useful because in the 1960s, had we been hit by our adversary, it might well have been a thousand 10-megaton weapons. No one could have received medical care. There would be no relief into the city from outside the city. The living would envy the dead.
In contrast, Iran might develop one or two 15-kiloton weapons, 1 to 2 percent the size of the weapons of the Soviet Union, less than 1 percent of the number. We would be able to bring in medical care from outside. We should talk about it. We should plan for it. But I know that no politician or pundit is allowed to do so; so I will stop and instead shift to a discussion of prevention, keeping nuclear weapons out of the worst hands.
Now, I know that we should prevent the worst regimes and organizations from obtaining nuclear weapons. How do we do that? Maximum carrots, maximum sticks, maximum focus. We need to prioritize. We need to maximize our options. And, finally, maximum linkage, by which I mean connecting our objective of deterring a nuclear Iran or a nuclear North Korea with objectives that are important to other countries, not only North Korea and Iran themselves but Russia and China.
Let's first look at North Korea. I think North Korea is less important than Iran because North Korea is not ambitious. It wishes only to survive and to oppress its people in its own territory. What we need in order to deal with North Korea is the carrot of offering a nonaggression pact, a treaty in which we would agree not to invade North Korea.
That's what the North Koreans have asked for. If the North Koreans are going to get rid of their nuclear weapons, you would think at a minimum they would want a promise from the United States that we're never going to invade. Believe it or not, the American response has been no. Why? Because the neocons never want to give up their dream of invading North Korea. This has made progress at the six-party talks uncertain at best. We are unable to prioritize our need to eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons program over the psychological need of neocons to dream of invading North Korea. Instead, we need maximum carrots for the North Korean regime if they will verifiably and permanently get rid of their entire nuclear program.
We also need maximum sticks. We don't have many sticks. China has the sticks. North Korea is utterly dependent on Chinese aid, and yet we have failed to use linkage. In all our discussions with China, we have told them that our attitudes toward trade and their currency manipulation will not be affected by their attitudes on nonproliferation. We are a nation that has lost 4,000 lives to protect us from Saddam's nuclear program that did not exist, but we are unwilling to link our policy on currency values to China's behavior with regard to weapons, not weapons of mass destruction, but the real important ones, the nuclear weapons.
Our State Department opposes linkage because they find it more convenient to just deal with one issue at a time in separate bureaus, in separate boxes. We need to link China's policies toward proliferation with our policies on issues important to China.
Now let's turn to Iran. Iran is more dangerous than North Korea because it is ambitious. It is already responsible for terrorist attacks as far away as Buenos Aires, which is as far as you can get from Tehran. It seeks to remake the Muslim world and then the entire world. An Iran with nuclear weapons is truly dangerous.
Let's go through all the different ways it imperils the United States. First, an Iran with nuclear weapons means that you can say goodbye to the nonproliferation regime which has restricted the number of nuclear states since 1945. The Gulf Cooperation Council or Saudi Arabia acting individually will certainly develop nuclear weapons if Iran does. Egypt will not be far behind. And once nuclear weapons become popular for medium-sized countries and countries that do not face existential threats to their existence, once nuclear weapons become something that every country the size of Egypt has, how do you say no to Nigeria or Brazil?
Not only would we lose the nonproliferation regime, but what affect would it have on Iran's policies? Imagine terrorism with impunity. Iran is already rated by our State Department as the number one state sponsor of terrorism. Imagine what happens if Iran has nuclear weapons. It puts us in a position where we cannot respond, even if we know that Iran is responsible for terrible terrorist acts.
Now not only do you provide impunity for Iran to engage in terrorism, but you put us for the first time since the end of the Cold War eyeball to eyeball with a hostile and aggressive nuclear power. You are going to end up with a Cuban missile crisis every week, or at least several a year. Whether it is IEDs smuggled from Iran into Iraq or whether it is Iranian gunboats challenging American ships in the Persian Gulf, Iran will provoke us and will test us. We will go eyeball to eyeball with a regime considerably less sane than the regime presided over by Khrushchev.
Now even if we survive dozens of confrontations with a hostile nuclear Iran, there may come a day, and we pray for this day, when the Iranian Government will see itself about to be overthrown. Do you think those mullahs are going to imitate the Soviet Communists, shrug their shoulders and walk off the world stage? Gorbachev wrote a book and went on a speaking tour. Do you think that is what is going to happen? No. If these extremists in Tehran feel that they are about to be overthrown, among their options will be to use their nuclear weapons against Israel in an effort to regain popularity on the streets of Tehran or to use their weapons on the United States figuring if they are going to go out, they might as well go out with a bang.
Now I know that there was that NIE, that National Intelligence Estimate, released late last year that was deliberately designed to be misread. It said that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weaponization program. But if you read that report carefully, and I am not talking about the classified version, which I wouldn't talk about here, but just the two-page unclassified version, if you read it carefully, if you read the footnote, you realize that the real bottom line in that report is that Iran is well on target to have a nuclear weapon by the middle of next decade.
You see, the key difficulty in producing a nuclear weapon is to get your hands on the fissile material. And the NIE says that Iran will likely have that fissile material by the middle of next decade. Now the easier part of building a nuclear weapon is to take that fissile material and do the engineering work to turn it into a weapon. This is called "weaponization.'' The NIE, this big national intelligence report which got headlines around the world, says that for at least a while, Iran seems to have stopped its weaponization program. But what does that mean? The weaponization program could be completed in just a year, year and a half. There is no reason for Iran to build the cart if they are still breeding the horse. All they have to do is continue to create the fissile material and then restart their weaponization program even a year or two from now and they will be well on target to have a nuclear weapon by the middle of next decade.
So how do we know that they are developing the fissile material technology? Because this is the one thing the whole world agrees on. The centrifuges are turning at Natanz. Iran says so. And they brought in the IAEA to look at it, and the IAEA says so. And Bush says so. Iran's enemies and Iran's friends say so. And we have seen the pictures. Iran is creating the technology to enrich uranium and create that fissile material.
Of course, Iran says it is all about generating peaceful electricity. Wait a minute. Iran, as we know, creates an awful lot of petroleum. As a byproduct of pumping petroleum, you often get natural gas. Iran has no way to export that natural gas. That natural gas is a useless byproduct. Iran flares the natural gas. Iran flares enough natural gas to generate more electricity than you could generate at ten Bushehr-style reactors. Well, if you have free flared natural gas, that is by far the cheapest way to generate electricity. But Iran isn't interested so much in generating electricity. They are interested in pursuing their nuclear program to create the fissile material which is the most essential element of creating a nuclear weapon. So Iran is developing the fissile material needed for a bomb.
Now there are those who say that our response should be a military response. They point out that Saddam Hussein's real nuclear program was destroyed by Israel in 1981. Saddam put it all in one place, above ground, easy to see. Syria made a similar mistake. They put their whole program, or the essential elements of that program, all in one place, above ground. They tried to make it a little bit more difficult to see. And if news reports are to be credited, that program was destroyed late last year by an Israeli bombing effort.
The Iranians are not nearly so incompetent. Their program is dispersed. It is underground. And it is hidden from our intelligence assets. A military strike would not destroy their whole program. It would set them back a few years. It would also cause a number of problems. But even if you believe that a military strike is a good idea, we ought to first exhaust our nonlethal alternatives if for nothing else than out of a decent respect for the opinion of the world.
I will talk about those nonlethal alternatives in a second. But I want to respond to those who take the other approach and say, well, shouldn't we pass a law here in Congress to prohibit any bombing of Iran's nuclear facilities? That is, I think, a mistake. I call it Ambien for Ahmadinejad. It would help him sleep better.
There is no reason for us to tell the Iranians that we have taken any of our options off the table. In fact, the more reasonable Iranian leaders will tell their colleagues that one of the reasons to give up the nuclear program is that in the end, it may be destroyed by an American bombing raid before it bears fruit. So you strengthen the hand of the realists in Tehran if you leave all options on the table.
But now let's focus on those nonlethal options. We have got to get a message through to the Iranian elites and the Iranian people. And that message is very simple. You face total economic and diplomatic isolation unless you verifiably and permanently give up your nuclear weapons program. Well, we have the broadcasting resources to get this message through. Radio Farda is broadcasting into Iran right now. Why can't we get this message through? Because I can't lie that well in Farsi. The real facts are that Iran faces nothing close to economic or diplomatic isolation if it continues its nuclear program. They face only the tiniest sanctions, and they can do business as usual with the entire world.
So what do we do to create the reality so that we can truthfully tell the Iranian people and Iranian elites that they must give up their nuclear program or they face economic and diplomatic isolation? Well, before I go forward, when we talk about the Iranian economy, we must recognize that special debt of gratitude we owe to Iran's mullahs whose mismanagement, corruption and oppression have made Tehran vulnerable to economic pressure even in a $130-a-barrel world. So what do we do?
What have we done? First on the economic side, and then on the diplomatic side. Now there was great fanfare on October 21 of last year when we announced big sanctions on Iran until you realized there was virtually nothing there. The first part of that sanction was to ban four Iranian banks. We had banned some of them earlier, bringing to a total of four the number of Iranian banks that were not allowed to execute transactions with the New York branch of the United States Federal Reserve. That means large dollar transactions, including oil sales, will either have to be executed through other Iranian banks or through non-Iranian banks or priced in euros rather than dollars. The most this could possibly do is to cut maybe one-tenth of 1 percent of Iran's oil revenue at very worst. And that is if many of the European banks really hit them with huge fees.
The fact is that there are plenty of banking channels. Iran can easily shift, and has shifted, to selling its oil for dollars. Instead it sells for Euros. And there are many ways that they can do dollar transactions if they want to. We have not taken the step of even banning all Iranian banks from doing business with the Federal Reserve Board because we have been unwilling to inconvenience international corporations even in that slight way.
We also announced rather recently that we would put the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps on the terrorist list. And for a few hours, people said what does that mean? Does that mean that if Mercedes chooses to sell trucks to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps that the United States might shut down Mercedes operations in the United States? Two hours later, the Treasury issued a press release saying they had no intention of pursuing secondary sanctions. What that means is that every European company is free to do business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps any way they want without facing any consequences in the United States.
So what should we be doing? The good news and the bad news is that we have a lot of tools in our economic toolbox. The good news is we have got tools in the toolbox. The bad news is we have known of this threat for a decade, and we have left our tools in the toolbox, except for, you know, a little screwdriver we have used to have the slightest possible effect.
The first thing we should do is follow the law. We should enforce the Iran Sanctions Act. Now, the Iran Sanctions Act was formerly known as the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act.
We used the sanctions against Libya, we forced Qaddafi to change his behavior, he gave up his nuclear program, we dropped Libya from the act, we renamed the act, and we resumed our policy of never applying it against Iran.
Since 1998, despite overwhelming evidence, we haven't taken the first step we are supposed to take under the Iran Sanctions Act, but what are we supposed to do? The purpose of the act is to deter companies from investing $20 million or more in the Iran oil sector.
The first step in that is for us to take note of which companies have invested $20 million in the Iran oil sector, and that triggers the act. At that point, the President is supposed to impose sanctions on that firm or at least name them and shame them and then waive the sanctions. Minimum compliance with the law requires the President to at least name the companies that we know are investing $20 million or more in the Iran oil sector.
What has actually happened? The State Department, the Administration, refuses to open its copy of the Wall Street Journal on any day in which there is an announcement of an additional significant investment in the Iran oil sector.
I had to turn to CRS, the Congressional Research Service, to give me a chart of all of the large investments being made in the Iran oil sector. We have got not just one chart, we have got another chart. But if you ask the State Department to name even one company that is investing, they will say we refuse to speak. Why? Because they don't even want to acknowledge that the investment is being made. That would trigger the act.
This is like hiring a police officer who disagrees with the law, a narcotics officer who just walks around and everybody is using whatever drugs, and this officer does nothing--what good is to pass the law if the Executive Branch refuses to apply it?
Now, we have a bill that has passed this House, it's stymied by Republicans in the Senate, it is opposed by the Administration, it's called the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act. What does this legislation do? The legislation strengthens the Iran Sanctions Act, it imposes a total embargo on imports to the United States of Iran's goods.
Believe it or not, we import from Iran. We don't import oil, we only import the stuff they don't need and they would have trouble selling anywhere else, caviar and carpets, et cetera.
The bill we would pass through this House would at least turn to Iran and say well you can't sell those goods here in the United States, which would have a significant impact on some of the most powerful families and clans in Iran, particularly those that play a decisive role in their government.
The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act would also end the obscene practice of U.S. oil companies doing business with Iran through their foreign subsidiaries. So far that bill remains bottled up, in large part because the Administration opposes it. The same Administration that refuses to enforce the existing law.
What about the World Bank? The World Bank has lent some $1.36 billion to Iran since Iran began its nuclear weapons program. Some $700 million of that hasn't been disbursed yet, but the United States has done nothing to prevent those loans from being authorized or the funds disbursed, except one thing.
The Administration cast a token vote at the World Bank knowing they would be outvoted, and they only did that because it was required by law. At least they followed the law. They are willing to follow the law when it's utterly inconsequential.
To date, the Secretary of the Treasury has refused to even call any of his counterparts in European capitals to urge them to withdraw their support for these World Bank loans.
Now, why are these World Bank loans so important? Because we know what it takes to stay in power. One of the things it takes is delivering projects to people, bringing home the bacon, if you will. Now, I know it's not kosher, it's not Halal, but it is what Iranian politicians around the world do. Imagine what it is for them to cut the ribbon on a water project and say we have given this to you. That's enough to help them stay in power just a little bit. But imagine how much more meaningful it is when they say the whole world, the World Bank, has sent us this money. This is proof that the United States can do nothing to hurt us. This is proof that the whole world is on our side about developing nuclear weapons.
The World Bank loans to Iran are harmful not just from an economic perspective, they are harmful to us from a political perspective as well. We should change our laws dealing with Federal procurement, State procurement and Federal corporate assistance to achieve one thing. We should turn to any corporation seeking a big contract with the Federal Government or seeking the assistance of any of our programs designed to help business, whether it be the Export-Import Bank or a whole host of other programs.
We should ask the other question, does your corporation or any of its affiliates invest in the Iran oil sector, loan money to the Iranian government, sell munitions to the Iranian government? Imagine the effect this will have if we make it clear that if you are a Nebraska corporation owned by an Italian corporation, and the Italian corporation is investing in the oil sector of Iran, that means we are not going to give you the contract, we will give it to somebody else.
A number of States have tried to do this, and they have been threatened by the Federal Government. We have passed through this House, and it has made it through the Foreign Relations Committee in the Senate, a bill dealing with OPIC, the most unfortunately titled Federal agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, and said that if you want the assistance of this agency, you have to certify that neither your corporation nor any of its affiliates are engaging in those wrongful transactions with the Iranian government. Clearly, we should not be giving assistance to those who are aiding Iran's nuclear program or aiding the Iranian government in one of the key pressure point areas, munitions, investment in the oil sector, loans to the government.
Now we have the issue of divestiture. We need to encourage private investors and government pension plans and private pension plans to sell their stock in corporations that are engaging in those transactions with the Iranian government, investments in the oil sector, loans to the government, sale of munitions.
A number of States, especially the State of Florida, my own State of California, have decided to divest from such companies. But when they do so, they face frivolous lawsuits, lawsuits from people saying, "oh, you have to invest for the maximum possible return, and you can't think of national interest when you do so.''
Now, get this, because my colleagues have seen how the Administration has been opposed to frivolous lawsuits and any lawsuit they claim is frivolous, they have been against lawsuits on everything except one thing, they are in favor of frivolous lawsuits against State governments who choose to divest, against private pension plans that choose to divest. Why? Because their hatred of trial lawyers is exceeded by their hatred of investors who would try to influence the very companies in which they have made an investment.
It is absolutely shameful for us to make it more difficult for good Americans to push the companies that they partially own into doing the right thing. We should go further.
Later this month, I will introduce legislation to change our tax code so that those who are divesting from companies doing business in those bad areas, as I have identified, or those areas we would like to discourage with regard to Iran, we will say, if you sell your stock in such a company, and reinvest the proceeds in a company that is clean, then you should get a carryover basis. We are not going to use that as a taxable event, because divestiture should be encouraged, not taxed. We need to turn to all the corporations in the world and say do not invest in the Iran oil sector, do not lend money to that government, do not sell the munitions, otherwise, we will encourage our companies, we will encourage our investors, we will encourage our pension plans, we will encourage our individual investors to stop investing in your company. We will not give aid to any of your subsidiaries, and we will not make them eligible for Federal contracts. This will provide real pressure on the Iranian government.
But that's just the economic toolbox. We also have the diplomatic toolbox as well. It is even more powerful, it is even less used. We have never offered Russia anything in return for real cooperation on the issue of Iran's nuclear program. We have not provided linkage between issues Russia cares about and what we care about, which ought to be preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
We have made it clear to Russia that what we do with regard to Chechnya, Abkhazia, Moldova, Estonia or anything else is not linked to what Russia does with regard to Iran.
Likewise, we have made it clear to China that what we do with regard to Taiwan or currency manipulation or trade will have nothing to do with what China does in the U.N. or elsewhere with regard to Iran's nuclear program.
If we could get Russia and China to support us at the U.N., then instead of stupid little sanctions designed to fool people around the world, we could get real U.N. sanctions. What would that mean? Imagine a U.N. ban on sending refined oil products into Iran. Now, Iran has plenty of petroleum, but they don't have the refinery capacity. They import nearly half of the gasoline they burn.
If the United Nations would prohibit every country in the world from sending them that refined petroleum, you would have an immediate impact on the streets of Tehran. You would be able then to turn to the Iranian people, to turn to the Iranian elites and say that you, indeed, face economic and diplomatic isolation unless you abandon your nuclear weapons program.
We need to prioritize. We need to link what is important to us to what is important to others. We need to use all the tools in our toolbox, and we need to use them immediately. Otherwise, we will not achieve the level of security from nuclear attack that the American people deserve.
I am not saying that we can make America invulnerable, but I am saying that it is our duty here in the Federal Government and as foreign policymakers to do everything we can to achieve that objective.
I have concluded. I did mention that I would perhaps talk about threats that face us in the second and third quarters of the 21st century. I will leave that to another speech. I yield back.