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Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed--Continued

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SCHUMER. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Minnesota for his great remarks. He really does care about Minnesota. It is a nice State.

IRAN SANCTIONS

Mr. President, in a few hours the Iran sanctions bill is likely to pass both the House and the Senate. That is very good news because when it comes to Iran, time's a wastin'. We need to ratchet up the pressure. And this is a powerful package that will paralyze the Iranian economy. It tightens the screws tighter, tighter, tighter, so that the Iranians will have no choice but to see their economy basically in desperate shape if they continue to pursue obtaining a nuclear weapon.

I thank my colleague, Chairman Johnson of the Banking Committee, who has put so much time and effort into the Iran sanctions bill and done such a great job.

I thank Ranking Member Shelby. We go to the gym in the Senate at about the same time early in the morning, and we have talked about this bill repeatedly. I know how much he cares about it.

I thank my colleague from New Jersey, whom I have worked with on this issue long and hard and who has taken a great leadership role. Senator Menendez has been relentless in pushing this bill, and the many of us who wish not to see a nuclear Iran owe Senator Menendez a great deal of thanks.

I thank my friend Senator Kirk, who, even though he is not physically present in the Chamber, has made this his highest priority. We have worked together on this issue a long time, and we continue to wish him a speedy recovery.

I believe that when it comes to Iran, of course, we should never take the military option off the table, but I believe--as almost everyone in this Chamber believes, our President believes, Prime Minister Netanyahu believes, and most Israelis believe--that economic sanctions are the preferred way to choke Iran's nuclear ambitions. If we can achieve sanctions and Iran truly backs off, not with a feint but in reality, by meeting the three standards that both President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu have set--turning over any 20-percent enriched uranium, stop producing any 20-percent enriched uranium, and destroying the new facility at Qom--then we will have achieved great victory. So we have to move forward.

Earlier this year a group of bipartisan Senators--I was proud to be amongst them--led by Senator Lieberman called on the European Union to exert more pressure on Iran by imposing an oil embargo on this rogue regime. Our European partners have done just that, and their oil boycott is working. That, too, is furthering to ratchet the pressure on Iran's nuclear program.

Last November the report on Iran's nuclear program by the IAEA was its most alarming yet. It proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon. And according to published reports, they could have at least one workable weapon in less than a year and another in 6 months after that. So we don't have much time, and ratcheting up the economic pressure is imperative. We cannot dawdle. We cannot sit around and say: Let's wait 6 months and see if the existing sanctions are working. We have to ratchet up that pressure so that Iran sees that it is not in its interests economically, politically, militarily even, to pursue the path they have thus far chosen. The IAEA report details a highly organized program dedicated to acquiring the skills necessary to produce and test a nuclear bomb. And earlier this year DNI Director Clapper told the Senate Intelligence Committee that Iran's leaders even seem prepared to attack U.S. interests overseas. So we know Iran is on the path to continued evil.

Just last week a suspected suicide bomber killed 6 people and wounded 30 aboard an Israeli tourist bus in a coastal town in Bulgaria. Israel believes--and I tend to agree with them--that Hezbollah and Iran are to blame. Many questions remain about the bomb, but many Western counterterrorist officials share the suspicions that Israel and I, frankly, both have.

By giving our government the capability to impose even more crippling sanctions on Iran should they continue with their nuclear weapons program, the House and the Senate are putting forth a tough, smart plan to ratchet it up and prevent, hopefully, God willing, the very real threat Iran poses to the United States and our allies, particularly Israel.

I am not going to go over what the bill does. That has been talked about. But I want to mention one other part of the bill before I sit down. I am really happy and grateful to Chairman Johnson that the measure before us will also include language adopted from the Syrian Human Rights Accountability Act. That is legislation I cointroduced this year with my friend and colleague from New York, Senator Gillibrand. The legislation would require the administration to identify violators of human rights in Syria, it would call for reform and protection of the prodemocracy demonstrators, and it would also block any financial aid and property transactions in the United States involving Syrian leaders involved in the crackdown on protesters.

If the Syrian Government, which in many respects operates as a client state for the rogue Iranian regime, will not willingly change its brutal approach and continues to violate the human rights of those seeking to exercise their voices, then we have to do everything we can to send the strongest message possible to that nation's leadership that this behavior is beyond the pale and not without consequences.

In conclusion, I believe my colleagues Chairman Johnson, ranking member Shelby, Senator Menendez, and Senator Kirk, have done an excellent job crafting a comprehensive plan to arm the administration with the tools it needs to put a stop to Iran's nuclear program. I urge my colleagues to unanimously support the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012.

I yield the floor.

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