Representative Ann Kirkpatrick, Arizona's only Member on the House Committee on Homeland Security, today released a statement in response to reports that Iran has stockpiled nearly enough radioactive material to build three nuclear weapons. This comes on the heels of the news that the country has tested its first nuclear power plant and will begin constructing 10 new uranium enrichment sites in mountain strongholds early next year, in open defiance of international law.
Rep. Kirkpatrick has fought hard to safeguard our Nation against Tehran's dangerous ambitions to become a nuclear state. The Congresswoman recently helped lead the charge to push through the strongest sanctions Congress has ever passed against Iran--legislation that will penalize organizations assisting the regime's efforts to obtain this devastating power. The legislation passed with bi-partisan support and was signed into law in June. The Obama Administration's implementation of these important restrictions is still underway.
Rep. Kirkpatrick's statement was as follows:
"It is clear that the fundamentalist dictatorship in Tehran is determined to continue its reckless pursuit of nuclear weapons. Their actions pose a grave threat to our national security and to the security of Israel and our other allies.
"This summer, Congress passed the strongest Iran sanctions in its history. The President must do everything in his power to bring them into full effect as soon as possible. We must use every tool we have to fight this growing threat.
"The United States is not going to back down, and we cannot accept a nuclear Iran. Every option must be on the table to prevent this rogue state from gaining nuclear capabilities--including the use of military force if necessary. Both our country and Israel retain the right to act preemptively if that is the only way to keep nuclear weapons out of the hands of the Iranian government."
Despite repeated diplomatic efforts, Iran refuses to fully cooperate with United Nations inspectors and is widely reported to have increased production of nuclear material in recent months. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) stated in a recent report that Iran has accumulated approximately 2.8 tons of low-enriched uranium--nearly enough to fuel three nuclear warheads. The regime announced its plans to construct additional uranium enrichment plants last year, and its recent statements confirm its intentions but offered no details on where the facilities would be built.
Though the Iranian government has long claimed that it will use its enrichment programs to generate power, the process it would use to upgrade uranium would bring the radioactive material dangerously close to weapons-grade.
Rep. Kirkpatrick has been a leader in the 111th Congress in working to block Iran's attempts to become a nuclear power, and she has a record of strong action in the face of the country's repeated defiance.
In March 2009, she was an original co-sponsor of H.R. 1327, the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act, which would make it easier for state and local governments and educational institutions to ensure their investments are not used to fund Iran's energy sector.
In September 2009, when it became apparent that the country had built a second uranium enrichment site and kept it a secret from the international community, the urgency of addressing Iran's nuclear ambitions was made even clearer. In response, the Congresswoman joined a bipartisan coalition to co-sponsor the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act to impose sanctions on individuals or corporations who have assisted Iran in obtaining or developing petroleum resources.
In June, Rep. Kirkpatrick co-sponsored the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act to put into place strong, binding and targeted measures aiming to discourage foreign investment, slow down the country's development and push it to abandon its nuclear ambitions. The sanctions in this legislation are the most far-reaching to date against this rogue nation.