U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement regarding Senator Chuck Hagel's nomination for Secretary of Defense:
"In 2009, Iranian leaders stole a presidential election from the people of Iran. When the people protested, the mullahs ordered their murders and mass arrests. We will never forget Neda and many other young Iranians whose lives were taken by brutal dictators. Today, the Iranian regime continues to deny the people of Iran the kind of basic human rights we in America take for granted. The world must not allow this illegitimate, terror-sponsoring regime to acquire a nuclear weapons breakout capability.
"During yesterday's confirmation hearing, Senator Hagel instinctively called the Iranian government both elected and legitimate. He initially offered strong support for containment of Iran, rather than President Obama's stated policy of preventing an Iranian nuclear breakout. He could not clearly explain his past opposition to unilateral sanctions against Iran -- opposition as recent as 2008. And at no time did he state his position on whether the European Union should formally designate Iran's terror proxy, Hezbollah, as a terrorist organization -- a critical step to cut off the flow of funds to a group responsible for the murders of some 280 American citizens.
"I appreciate and respect Senator Hagel's record of service to our country, especially as a decorated combat veteran. However, based on Senator Hagel's testimony yesterday, on top of my existing concerns regarding his past statements and votes, I cannot support Senator Hagel's nomination."