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Public Statements

Sportsmen's Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. BLUMENTHAL. Mr. President, I want to begin by thanking my colleague and friend from South Carolina who has so eloquently and powerfully stated the case for this resolution. But even before discussing resolution 41, I thank him and our colleagues who spoke today on the floor about the Rand Paul resolution.

I think this morning's debate--and I listened to it for all 3 hours, because I was presiding at the time--marked one of the finer moments of my brief time as a Member of the Senate. What I saw this morning was an articulate, thoughtful, and courageous statement against a resolution that would do grave harm to this Nation's national interests if it became law and if it bound the U.S. Government and cut off aid to these countries. I think the case stated was courageous because it very likely may prove unpopular with some elements of their own party--to put it very bluntly, the political reality here. But I think it was one of the finer moments of this body because it marked a point of clarity and a clear recognition for the need to come together as a nation when our national interests are threatened, when our national security is at stake, when the harm to this Nation requires acting together.

I am hoping this spirit of bipartisanship will also come together, as it has so far with 82 cosponsors, on the resolution we have sponsored, S.J. Res. 41.

As Senator Graham has rightly observed, it began with the leadership of a handful of Senators. He was one of the key leaders, as were Senator Lieberman, Senator Ayotte, Senator Hoeven, Senator Casey, and Senator Menendez. I was proud to be among them. The spirit of bipartisanship and the strength of that spirit was really extraordinary.

Here is what we know. At a time of confusion and obfuscation, in many respects, where foreign policy is concerned, knowing with certainty some of the facts is very important. We all know from the International Atomic Energy Agency that as of November 2011, Iran had produced approximately 5,000 kilograms of uranium enriched up to 3.5 percent. We also know that this Iranian regime is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world, according to our Department of State. We know this regime has repeatedly expressed its desire to ``wipe Israel off the map.'' We know this regime has provided weapons training to Hamas, Hezbollah, and militias in Iraq who murder civilians and spread terror. We know it has already actively and consistently provided aid to the Assad regime in Syria in its brutal and unconscionable repression of its own people. The torture and murders that have occurred have been directly linked to Iran. We know the Iranian Government is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. If it does, it will lead to an arms race in that part of the world that will be as threatening as any other potential harm to this Nation. We know Iran would create access for terrorists to these nuclear weapons, making the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox. We cannot trust this regime. We know that fact beyond any potential doubt.

Iran's nuclear program is of extraordinarily grave concern not only to nations in that part of the world but to all nations everywhere that want peace. That is why an international coalition has come together, with the leadership of the United States of America. Iran cannot be permitted to continue its nuclear program to a point where it is capable of making a nuclear weapon.

Despite repeated calls for it to suspend or stop this program, we know with certainty that Iranian leaders show no signs of waiting or wanting to halt their program to build nuclear weapons. In fact, recent intelligence shows they are continuing to enrich uranium and develop nuclear facilities.

That is why we need S.J. Res. 41. There is no question that the administration, under President Obama, has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to such a policy. The President has made his position and the position of the United States absolutely clear. I am quoting President Obama:

Iran's leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment; I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

That is the message of S.J. Res. 41. That is the message we must convey as a nation together from all parties, all parts of the United States, and all interests, that time is limited. Time is limited to keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capability.

This resolution calls for increased pressure on Iran to come into compliance with the U.S. security resolution. This resolution builds on the efforts of myself and others to call for successful P5+1 talks that would lead Iran to halt its nuclear program. This resolution says to the world that the United States and governments of other responsible nations have a vital, mutual interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapon capability. Let's underscore the words and recognize their importance: nuclear weapons capability.

Many of us have written multiple times to President Obama outlaying a framework that would lead to successful negotiations. My hope is that the combination of strict international sanctions and international condemnation of a nuclear-armed Iran will convince that government to desist and cease its program of nuclear weapons capability building. It is not in our interest, it is not in the world's interest, and ultimately it is not in that regime's interest. If sanctions fail, we must be prepared to act.

This resolution expresses the resolution and the resoluteness of this body. I am hopeful that sanctions will work, but if the Government of Iran is unconvinced by this very compelling case, it must know that this issue is not a partisan one, it is not one on which we are divided. We stand together, we stand strong, and we are resolute and resilient. The United States and its allies will join together to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.

Again, I thank the Senator from South Carolina and all 82 of my colleagues who have joined as cosponsors. We began with a handful, but I think the compelling power and persuasiveness of the need for this resolution is carrying the day.

I yield to the Senator from South Carolina, my good friend and the leader of this effort.

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