Iran poses a grave threat not only to Israel and the Middle East, but also to the United States and the entire world. It is the world's leading state sponsor of terror and continues to violate United Nations Security Council Resolutions in its pursuit of nuclear weapons. That is something we cannot allow. We must work with our allies and use all means necessary to prevent Iran from achieving that goal.
Strong economic sanctions on Iran have been enacted with my strong support. These sanctions have been strengthened to penalize institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran. While these economic sanctions are having an impact, time is running out. Iran continues to stall the international community while it pursues its nuclear program. We must take decisive action against this dangerous regime and keep all options on the table. Below, you may find various letters and resolutions I have endorsed:
* On 2/18/13, I cosigned a letter to the High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, requesting the European Union designate Hezbollah as a terrorist organization
* On 2/18/13, I cosigned a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister of Bulgaria, Tsvetan Gentchev Tsvetanov, expressing support for its recent report on the 2012 Burgas bombing, which builds a sound foundation for further action against Hezbollah
* On 9/27/12, I cosigned a letter to President Barroso (European Commission) urging the Council to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity
* On 9/27/12, I cosigned a letter to Erato Kozakou-Marcoullis (Foreign Minister of Cyprus and EU Council President) urging the Council to revisit its decision not to designate Hezbollah as a terrorist entity
* On 1/26/12, I cosigned a letter to President Obama requesting the enforcement of Iran sanctions laws passed by Congress
* H.R. 850--Nuclear Iran Prevention Act--This bill strengthens existing U.S. sanctions against Iran by targeting Iran's euro-dominated foreign exchange, curtailing all commercial trade with Iran. This bill would also require the President to add hundreds of Iranian entities to a key sanctions list.
* H. Res. 568--This resolution expresses the importance of preventing the Government of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
* H.R. 3783--Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act--This legislation would require the Secretary of State to draft a comprehensive strategy to counter Iran's growing presence and hostile activity in the Western Hemisphere
* H. R. 4228--This bill directs the Secretary of State to designate Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Qods Force as a foreign terrorist organization
* H.R. 1905--This bill strengthens existing U.S. sanctions against Iran and requires that they be fully and effectively implemented to compel the Iranian regime to end its illicit activities. Most significantly, the bill mandates that the President apply sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) and on foreign banks that conduct transactions with the CBI. It also imposes new sanctions on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and foreign entities that conduct business with the group.
Pakistan is of strategic importance to the U.S. and is crucial to forwarding U.S. security interests in the region. Areas along the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are a haven for numerous extremist and terrorist groups including the FATA and SWAT and have been virtually run by Taliban and al-Qaeda. This situation presents a clear and present danger not only to Afghanistan and the region but the entire globe as they provide safe haven to terrorists. However, drone strikes in Northwest Pakistan have been tremendously successful in decimating al Qaeda and its key leaders. I fully support the use of drones to eliminate dangerous terrorists.
Pakistan has been and continues to be a key country in the war against Islamic extremism. Many of the senior Taliban and al-Qaeda leadership that were captured or killed occurred with the cooperation of Pakistan, but Pakistan's actions in the last couple of years have raised questions about its commitment to U.S. interests. The fact that Osama bin Laden was living for so long in Pakistan raises the most serious questions about Pakistan's good faith. It is also incredibly troubling that Dr. Shakeel Afridi, who helped the United States track down Osama bin Laden, remains imprisoned by Pakistan.
In the aftermath of 9/11 attacks, the U.S. launched military operations in Afghanistan to remove the Taliban regime and to stop al Qaeda's use of Afghanistan as a base of operations for terrorist activities.
The core goal of the United States' mission in Afghanistan has been to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al-Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan and to prevent its return. Under the leadership of General David Petraeus much progress was made. Our troops have done an excellent job, but more remains to be done. An unstable Afghanistan will allow al-Qaeda to establish a sanctuary similar to the situation before 9/11. That is why I have opposed the President's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan too rapidly. While al Qaeda has largely been driven out, it is important that the U.S. maintain a presence in order to prevent another 9/11 type attack.
The United States agreed to supply military equipment to Egypt, including F-16 jets, in 2009 when former President Hosni Mubarak was in power. Given the radical and inconsistent policies of Egyptian President Morsi, I have strong concerns over providing such military assistance. That is why I supported legislation to restrict military aid until the Obama Administration certified that Egypt's government was protecting freedom of expression, religion and due process of law. Unfortunately, the Administration chose to waive those requirements.
This denial of reality by the Administration must stop. To continue to receive American aid, Egypt must, at a minimum, adhere to its peace agreement with Israel and address the ongoing security situation in the Sinai.
The war in Iraq was painful and difficult. Every loss of American life on the field of battle was tragic and the brave men and women of our armed forces endured great sacrifice, as did their families. I voted for this war in 2002, and continued to support it when it became unpopular because I clearly believed it was in our national interest. We cannot hope to defeat Islamic terrorism until the Middle East is stabilized and that could never be done until Saddam Hussein and his capacity for weapons of mass destruction were removed.
Having been to Iraq on several occasions, I knew --even during the dark days of 2006--that the media were not accurately reporting the progress that had been made. I also believed, however, that it was important to revise our military strategy going forward. That is why in 2007 I supported the "surge" policy of General David Petraeus and voted against the misguided attempt to reduce funding to our troops (H.R. 1591).
The surge strategy of General Petraeus worked. During my visits to Iraq, I met with America's military commanders and with rank and file troops including National Guard and reservists from New York and Long Island. I saw firsthand the extraordinary effort made by our troops in defeating al-Qaeda, putting down the Sunni insurgency and creating meaningful governmental institutions. As President Obama stated: "Under tough circumstances the United States military has succeeded beyond any expectation."
It is in America's national interest to have Iraq be a sovereign and stable nation because the future of Iraq is closely linked to the future of the Middle East -- which is now facing massive civil unrest. That is why I opposed President Obama's decision to withdraw all our troops from Iraq, particularly without a Status of Forces agreement. At least 20,000 troops should have remained to maintain stability and deter Iranian influence. The President's policy runs the real risk of undoing many of the gains our troops fought so hard to achieve.