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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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Ms. AYOTTE. Mr. President, I thank my colleague from South Carolina. He has really led the effort on this incredibly important resolution. I also thank my colleague from Connecticut, Senator Blumenthal, for his leadership on this issue.

The bipartisan nature of this resolution tells us very clearly that this really is the policy of this Congress and how important this issue is for our country. This resolution will ensure that we give a clear message to Iran that it is not our policy and that the United States and the world will not accept Iran acquiring the capability of having a nuclear weapon. We understand that it would make the Middle East a more dangerous place than it is now and would cause an arms race in that part of the world. In addition, it would also cause us to be in a position in which one of our strongest allies in the Middle East, Israel, is threatened with annihilation because that is exactly what the Iranian regime has said.

Most importantly, it will endanger our own country if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon because Iran is incredibly hostile to the United States of America. Iran participates with various terrorist groups, including Hezbollah. One of the greatest risks we face is that the regime itself wouldn't use the nuclear weapon; they would just give it to a terrorist group who could hit any one of our allies. They could use it to harm us and our country, and then, of course, the world changes. We cannot allow this to happen, and it is very important to have 82 Senators sponsoring this resolution.

I wish to talk briefly about the Paul amendment that is pending before this body. How we act on this amendment, as my colleague from Georgia so eloquently said, will define the foreign policy of the United States of America. I wish to state my strong opposition to the Paul amendment because I am very concerned that if we pass the Paul amendment, then we are sending the very message to the radical Islamists and the terrorists of the world that they want to hear from us, which is that we will withdraw.

Let's be clear on what their goal is when they attack us. They don't want us to be engaged. They would like the Middle East to become a seventh-century, Taliban-style government that is a threat to our country.

In my view, for us to withdraw now, we would put ourselves in a position where, for example, the amendment is so broadly drafted that even if one of our ally's embassies were attacked, such as Israel, we would have to withdraw aid and it would send the absolute wrong message. It would be to the detriment of the safety of the United States of America.

I understand that my colleague Senator Paul is well intentioned, but every time we have withdrawn, people have died and the world has not become safer and the battle comes here. We don't want the battle to be here. We don't want any of these elements to be in our country. We can't forget what happened to us on September 11.

As my colleagues have eloquently stated before, our only tools can't be our military. The reason we have so many of our present and former military leaders standing up and saying they oppose the Paul amendment is because they understand that by engaging with these countries through the small foreign aid budget we have, we can prevent conflict. We can actually be in a position where we are engaged and we are sending the message to the radical Islamist terrorists that, no, the United States of America will not back off. They cannot put us in a position where they can bring the battle to our soil. We will not be defeated by them.

I think if we were to pass this amendment from my colleague, no matter how well intentioned it is, we would only be empowering those radical elements. I urge my colleagues to vote against the Paul amendment.

I also believe it very much relates to this containment resolution for the following reasons: We see Iran right now ignoring what the U.N. has asked of it, ignoring what the good people of the world want to have happen in Syria. In fact, Iran is supporting Hezbollah. They are arming and training Asad's forces in Syria. They are providing weapons to insurgents in Afghanistan who are killing our troops. They are engaged with radical elements in Iraq. If we look at the whole course of events, we can imagine that Iran will cheer if we pass an amendment in which we say that we back off our commitment to Pakistan, our commitment to Egypt, and our commitment to Libya and other areas around the world. God forbid if one of our other allies' embassies were attacked.

Most importantly, as my colleagues have said, Iran would cheer if the Paul amendment passes because it would actually break the Camp David Accords in which we agreed as a country to provide aid to Egypt. It would also make Israel less safe, and there is nothing in the world that Iran wants more than to have Israel be less safe. In fact, they have stated very clearly that their goal is to annihilate Israel from the face of the Earth.

We cannot allow them to get nuclear weapons. They are marching closer and closer to this capability. Senator Blumenthal told us about the enrichment of the uranium. This is not the level of enrichment used for a powerplant. It is being enriched to have the capability of having a nuclear weapon.

They have created more and more centrifuges despite us asking them to stop, despite the sanctions we have put in place, all for the possibility of having that nuclear weapon they could use that would change the world, not to mention what they have said about our friend Israel, that they would seek to annihilate Israel.

The world is a very dangerous place. If we allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapon, this is a game changer for the world. That is why this resolution is so incredibly important.

I very much appreciate the leadership on both sides of the aisle in support of this resolution, and my colleague from South Carolina for bringing this forward, because we need to tell the world we are not going to allow this game changer to happen. Iran needs to hear a very clear message from us as a Congress, backing up our President, that we will not allow for the containment of a nuclear-armed Iran, for the safety of the world.

Finally, we need to let our friends in Israel know, when Prime Minister Netanyahu said on September 16 that ``those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel,'' I say to our friends in Israel: Please know that by passing this resolution, we stand with you. We will work with you to make sure the tyrannical regime in Iran never gets that weapon of mass destruction that could very much change the safety of the Middle East, the safety of your country, as well as our own country and the world.

With that, I yield for my colleague from South Carolina.

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