Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Albio Sires
Date: Dec. 18, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. SIRES. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H.R. 3783, as amended by the Senate, and I yield myself as much time as I may consume. And I want to thank the Congresswoman for all her hard work on this issue.

The underlying bill, H.R. 3783, has already been passed by the House, and for that reason, I will only briefly summarize the bill and then move to explain the Senate amendment.

This legislation authorizes $1 million for the State Department to generate an assessment of the threat posed to our country by Iran's growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere, as well as a strategy to address that threat.

As many of our colleagues reminded us during House consideration of the bill, the issue could not be more pressing. Tehran's pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability, its continued support for international terrorism, and its abuse of basic human rights require the United States to maintain extreme vigilance in countering these threats. Thanks to the leadership of this Congress and the Obama administration, more pressure has been placed on the Iranian regime than ever before. But now is not the time to let down our guard.

In a show of defiance to the U.S., Ahmadinejad has made six trips to our hemisphere. Although it is unclear that he has put anything of real value on the table, it is important that the U.S. Government continue to closely monitor the nature and effectiveness of these Iranian efforts, including attempts to gain support for circumventing international sanctions.

None of this occurs in a vacuum. Iran was complicit in the horrific bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in the first half of the 1990s. And we have evidence of Iran's increasing willingness to conduct an attack on U.S. soil, such as the discovery this year of a twisted Iranian plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington. It is clear that Iran's behavior poses a clear and obvious danger to its own people and its neighbors, and its growing presence closer to our shores also deserves closer attention.

H.R. 3783 makes clear that we must continue to monitor this situation closely and provide resources necessary to ensure that the efforts of various U.S. Government agencies are coordinated and clearly focused. The amendment adopted by the Senate provides that the strategy generated by the administration ``may be submitted in classified form, but shall include an unclassified summary of policy recommendations.'' This modifies the original formulation, which provided that this strategy be unclassified, but with a classified addition.

I urge my colleagues to support this amended legislation, and I reserve the balance of my time.

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