U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement at a full committee hearing on the destabilizing role of Iran in the Middle East. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:
"While the Administration takes unilateral steps to offer concessions to Iran as it pursues a weak nuclear agreement, it continues to disregard our calls for Congressional oversight and our warnings on dealing with Iran while ignoring its destabilizing efforts. The regime in Tehran continues to actively and openly work against U.S. national security interests across the globe in Iraq and Syria, it arms and finances terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas.
Ted Deutch and I just came back from a trip to the region and many leaders expressed to us that pushing back Iran's breakout capability is not as important as dismantling Iran's nuclear infrastructure would be. Iran doesn't need the bomb to be dangerous; just having the capability to get the bomb is enough to spark a nuclear arms race in the region.
Instead of offering concessions to the regime, the Administration should be pressing Iran to dismantle completely its nuclear program, abandon its support for Assad and its terrorist proxies and cease its provocations against the U.S. and our ally, the democratic Jewish State of Israel, or else we will impose even stricter sanctions that will bring Iran's economy to its knees. It's the sanctions stupid.
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I've said from the beginning that Iran agreeing to the weak, and easy to live up to, interim agreement was just another ploy by the regime to win concessions and buy more time; now that the deadline approaches, an extension must not be given; instead we need to start reexamining our sanctions programs against Iran, and ways to counter its illicit and destabilizing activities.
We have no reason to trust the regime, but we have decades worth of proof that shows Iran's true colors. One of the very first acts of terror this current regime in Iran was responsible for after the "79 Islamic Revolution was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran; led by a group of students, but spiritual followers of Khomeini, these terrorists held fifty-two American diplomats and citizens hostage for nearly 450 days.
Iran has been a United States designated State Sponsor of Terrorism since "84; it has been repeatedly redesignated by the State Department of a Country of Particular Concern for its continued and flagrant abuse of religious minorities; and the regime has been highlighted year after year by our State Department's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for its abysmal human rights record.
Then of course we turn to the nuclear issue; Iran was discovered to have been operating a covert nuclear program for decades in an attempt to create a nuclear weapon; a covert program that we did not find for years, so what confidence do we have that we will be able to catch Iran cheating again?
There are six UN Security Council resolutions against Iran's nuclear program -- resolutions that demand that Iran not be allowed to enrich any uranium at all -- and yet Iran continues to be in violation of those resolutions, it continues to make progress on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Yet from the very beginning, Administration after Administration have failed to hold the Iranian regime accountable for all of these aggressive acts.
The hostages of the "79 crisis have yet to receive their justice. Our policy must be to seek justice for our citizens who have been victims of terrorism, hold the terrorists such as Iran accountable, and appropriately compensate the victims.
The Administration, as have many others before it with other rogue regimes, believes that a nuclear agreement can open up avenues for further cooperation, but as we have seen with North Korea and others that is never the case. What is the danger in dealing with Iran as if its nuclear program exists in a vacuum -- that it is somehow not related to all of Iran's other illicit and problematic areas?
In the Administration's continued negotiations with Iran, we have managed to alienate, and even anger some of our traditional partners and allies in the region, and our credibility just keeps going lower. At what cost will this nuclear deal impact our foreign policy objectives in the Middle East in its totality, whether an agreement is reached or not? And what would be the benefit of alienating all of these countries - like Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and even Israel who has a very real and existential concern over Iran's nuclear program -- in favor of an Iranian nuclear agreement that many will believe will not go far enough?"