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Mr. KIRK. Mr. President, I wish to speak on the pending amendment. I rise in support of the Kirk-Manchin-Heller and Blunt amendment regarding Iran. What we know with regard to Iran is that they have persecuted 330,000 Baha'is in their country, registered their houses, kicked their kids out of university, made sure that they can do no business with the Iranian Government.
We know Iran is the chief sponsor of the terrorist group Hezbollah that has had a grip on southern Lebanon. We know Iran jumped the Shiite divide to also support the terrorist group called Hamas in the Sunni community.
We know Iran has been a state sponsor of terror as certified by Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama.
We know Iran recently sentenced an Iranian actress to 90 lashes for appearing in an Australian movie without a headdress.
We know Iran recently arrested 70 of its fashion designers, for crimes I cannot even imagine that they would have committed.
But, most importantly, we know the International Atomic Energy Agency has certified that now Iran has enriched uranium far beyond what it needs to run a civilian reactor program; that Iranian military personnel have been involved in acquiring information on the design of nuclear weapons; that the Iranians are working on the details of a warhead for their Shahab-3 missile that fits all of the profiles of a nuclear weapon.
Finally, we know, according to the Attorney General of the United States, Eric Holder, that Iran and its Iranian Revolutionary Guards Quds force established a bomb plot with the Mexican cartel, the Zetas, to blow up a Georgetown restaurant, to kill a number of Americans, even talked about possibly killing Senators, in an effort to assassinate the Saudi Arabian Ambassador to the United States here in Washington, DC.
I think it is clear with this bipartisan amendment that we all recognize we are at a turning point and that we need new sanctions against Iran. Without crippling sanctions, I believe we have then turned the international community on the path toward war, likely between Iran and our allies, in Israel.
This would cause a needless loss of life. It would lead to higher energy prices for the West, an increase in instability in Europe when we can least afford it. Therefore, we need to level crippling sanctions, especially against the Iranian center of gravity, the Central Bank of Iran.
The Central Bank of Iran is the principal funder of the Ahmadinejad regime itself. It is probably the source of funds so substantially provided to terrorist groups by Iran to Hamas and Hezbollah. It is the Central Bank of Iran that is supporting operations in Afghanistan and Iraq against our allies there.
It is the Central Bank of Iran that is the principal underlying financial support for the Iranian nuclear program, and the Central Bank of Iran that is the paymaster for the Iranian Revolutionary Guards force, especially their Quds force. Likely the money that was planned for the Zetas to carry out the bomb plot in Washington, DC, had its origin point with the Central Bank of Iran.
That is why 92 Senators, Republicans and Democrats, despite these partisan times, have joined to say we should level this crippling sanction against the Central Bank of Iran.
I thank the 92 Senators who signed the Schumer-Kirk letter. Indications are that the Obama administration is going to take further actions on the Central Bank of Iran. This amendment lays out the full roadmap for what we should do.
What does the amendment do? It is patterned after the bipartisan amendment adopted under the authorship of Democratic California Congressman Howard Berman, unanimously adopted in the House Foreign Affairs Committee, that says for any business, if you do business with the Central Bank of Iran, you cannot do business with the United States of America.
We know that world financial arrangements and especially oil markets are complicated instruments, so under this bipartisan amendment we have a 180-day timeclock to make sure that especially key allies and friends of the United States can unhook from Iranian oil and the financial ties that bind them to Iran. This is particularly important for Turkey, for Sri Lanka, for Italy, and for Greece, who would all use that time under this amendment to unhook from Iran.
In this, I think we are going to have a very willing partner in the Government of Saudi Arabia, recently obviously focused on, because the Iranians tried to kill their Ambassador to the United States. I will be meeting with that Ambassador tomorrow. I think this amendment lays the groundwork not just to work with Israel, not just to
work with Saudi Arabia, but our allies, to collapse the Central Bank.
Without action, I think we turn the Middle East and especially the Persian Gulf toward war. That is why we should take every nonmilitary action possible to avoid that conflict, to collapse the Central Bank of Iran.
There are a number of bipartisan heroes in this story--Senator Lieberman, who has been a key actor on these issues and a partner with me on many of these issues; Senator Gillibrand also who has helped out; obviously Senator Schumer, who was the coauthor of the 92-Senator letter on the Central Bank of Iran; Senator Menendez, who also has an outstanding idea on creating an Iranian oil-free zone; and obviously my bipartisan partner on this and best friend in the Senate, Senator Manchin, who joined me on this effort.
Together, we can have a clear statement about what has happened with the IAEA and the Iranian nuclear program, with their record on human rights, with their record on support for terrorism and, most importantly, according to the Attorney General, with a brazen attempt to attack the United States directly with this bomb plot.
I urge Members of this Chamber to vote for this amendment, which is now pending to the National Defense Authorization Act, because it puts a clear statement forward, levels the toughest nonmilitary sanction we had, helps reduce the chance for war or market and oil instability and higher prices, and has such a strong bipartisan pedigree behind it.
I yield the floor.
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