U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today urged the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to impose significant penalties on the Iranian and Syrian regimes for their continued refusal to permit the Agency to inspect their nuclear facilities. Ros-Lehtinen also announced that she will hold a hearing on Thursday, March 17th at 9:30 a.m. on the threats posed by these rogue regimes and measures to strengthen U.S. nonproliferation policy. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"Iran's and Syria's continued stonewalling of the IAEA cannot go unanswered. It is my hope that the IAEA Director General's statements that Iran and Syria continue to refuse to cooperate with the Agency will force the IAEA to take decisive action, followed-up by UN Security Council action.
"There is much that the IAEA can and should be doing to address these severe threats. The IAEA should immediately suspend all membership privileges of Iran and Syria, including technical assistance, voting privileges, and the ability to host meetings. The IAEA must also immediately invoke its right to a "special inspection' to force the regime in Syria to come clean about its nuclear program. The IAEA should also call on the UN Security Council to take further action against the Iranian regime and to take steps to address Syrian violations of its nonproliferation obligations.
"The U.S. must also demonstrate leadership in confronting the threats posed by Iran and Syria by moving quickly to tighten sanctions and other measures on these outlaw regimes.
"Next week, I will hold a Committee hearing examining changing U.S. nonproliferation policy, especially nuclear cooperation agreements, to prevent other countries from copying Iran's and Syria's example of using a peaceful nuclear program as cover for a nuclear weapons program."
BACKGROUND: The Board of Governors of the International Atomic Energy Agency is meeting this week in Vienna to discuss, among other things, Iran's and Syria's continuing refusal to allow the IAEA to inspect their nuclear facilities. The latest IAEA report on Iran states that Tehran continues to prevent the Agency from investigating evidence it has uncovered that Iran has been working on nuclear weapons. The IAEA Director General has said that Syria continues to block IAEA inspections of its suspect nuclear facilities.
NOTE: During the last Congress, Ros-Lehtinen introduced H.R. 3107, the "Stop Nuclear Assistance to State Sponsors of Terrorism Act of 2009", which sought to withhold funding to the IAEA's Technical Cooperation program equal to the amount that was provided in nuclear technical assistance to Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba. In 2009, a Government Accountability Office report on the IAEA's Technical Cooperation program found that "neither State nor IAEA seeks to systematically limit TC assistance to countries the United States has designated as state sponsors of terrorism -- Cuba, Iran, Sudan, and Syria -- even though under U.S. law these countries are subject to sanctions."