Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Chris Smith
Date: Sept. 19, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Speaker, I rise to offer my strong support to H.R. 3783, Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act, which provides for a comprehensive strategy to counter Iran's growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere. I would also like to thank the gentleman from South Carolina, Mr. JEFF DUNCAN, for introducing this legislation highlighting the very real threat of Iran at America's front door.

If we have learned anything from the complete lack of progress in negotiations to keep Iran from making a nuclear weapon, it is that Iran is persistent in hostile action and insistent on establishing itself as a counterweight to U.S. power and ideals.

Iran has engaged the U.S. through its Iran Revolutionary Guard Corp (IGRC) in Iraq, resulting in the deaths of American men and service women. Iran is buttressing the morally bankrupt Assad regime in Syria as Syria massacres its own people. And Iran is attacking our friends and allies through its proxies, like Hezbollah, which boasts and arsenal of 60 to 70,000 rockets, many of which were supplied by Iran and are aimed at Israeli neighborhoods.

Iran has earned its title as a state sponsor of terrorism. No target is off limits, and simply being of Jewish descent is apparently provocation enough. In 1994, Iran orchestrated one of the worst terrorist attacks in the Western Hemisphere against the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, murdering 85 people and injuring 300 more. The peace of 200,000 Jewish individuals, many of whom fled to Argentina during WWII, was shattered by this barbarous attack.

Media reports over the last few years have shown an alarming trend of increased Iranian IGRC Qods force presence and activity in Latin America. Iran's President Ahmadinejad, famous for his repeated denials of the Holocaust and dedication to wiping Israel off the map, has made visits to Latin America to cultivate alliances with Chavez, Ortega, Morales, Castro, and Correa.

These leaders have stated their commitment to Iran's nuclear activities and their faith that ``Iran can give a crushing response to the threats and sanctions imposed by the West and imperialism.'' There is no question that Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, Nicaragua, and Venezuela are helping Iran evade the sanctions intended to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear sponsor of state terrorism. The question is, what are we doing about it?

If Iran succeeds in creating a nuclear weapon, it is all too conceivable that these allies of Iran in the Western Hemisphere would be willing to provide a local launch pad, as Cuba did during the Cold War for Russian missiles aimed at the U.S.

Mr. Speaker, these threats are all too real and all too proximate. With H.R. 3783, the Administration will be required to create a coordinated, inter-agency plan to ensure that the United States is working effectively to counter Iran's hostile aspirations in the Western Hemisphere. I urge my colleagues to support this important and timely legislation.

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