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The Urgency Of Preventing Iran From Acquiring Nuclear Weapons

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentlewoman from Florida (Ms. Ros-Lehtinen) is recognized for 5 minutes.

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, last week we commemorated a sad anniversary of the September 11th attacks on our Nation. On that fateful day 8 years ago, we realized that protecting our homeland and defeating our enemies would require innovative approaches and an unconventional view of the threats that we face. However, when looking at the Iranian nuclear threat, it would appear that some have forgotten the lessons of 9/11.

Many believe that because Iran has not yet mastered all of the elements needed for an operational nuclear weapon, we have the luxury of time. Mr. Speaker, that is not so. Iran has already produced 1,400 kilograms of low-enriched uranium, which can easily be used for a ``dirty nuke.''

As former President Clinton noted in the year 2005, if you have basically a cookie's worth of fissile material and you put it into a traditional bomb, you can amplify the destruction power by hundreds-fold or more.

So the nuclear threat from Iran already exists in a radiological form. Yet, the U.S. and the U.N. Security Council have actually lowered the requirements imposed on the Iranian regime with respect to its nuclear activities. The initial U.S. position with respect to Iran's nuclear program was to demand its complete, verifiable, irreversible dismantlement. Then it went down to a mere temporary suspension of uranium enrichment. And now, reportedly, only a commitment from the Iranian regime that they will not use growing supplies of enriched uranium to make nuclear weapons.

This, as a U.S. government official was quoted as saying just last week, ``Iran is now either very near or in possession already of sufficient low-enriched uranium to produce one nuclear weapon'' and is closer ``to a dangerous and destabilizing possible breakout capacity.'' And this means a breakout capacity for producing not a dirty nuke but a conventional nuclear weapon.

Iran is pouring enormous resources into its nuclear program. Its missiles can already strike U.S. forces, can strike Israel and our allies in the Middle East and Europe, and it is only a matter of time until it has the capability to hit us here at home.

Inexcusably, one administration after another has not fully implemented the range of sanctions that are called for in current U.S. law, nor have we leveraged our resources to secure cooperation from our allies, particularly those on the U.N. Security Council. And this year we have filed another bill for another range of sanctions on Iran, and we have yet to get that bill out of committee, in spite of over 300 sponsors for that bill.

Next week at the United Nations in New York, for the first time a President of the United States will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council. The Council will be holding a special summit on the general issue of nuclear nonproliferation, but will ignore the actions of specific countries such as Iran.

The U.S. will also not use its presidency on the Security Council this month to pursue further sanctions targeting the Iranian regime. In fact, rather than using our platform at the U.N. to urge immediate action against the regime, the U.S. has again succumbed to Iranian manipulation.

Joined by France, Germany, Britain, Russia, and China, we will meet with the regime in Brussels on October 1 to resolve the disputes over Tehran's nuclear program.

Let's get this straight. As the threat posed by the Iranian regime increases, as the Iranian regime inches closer to weaponizing its nuclear program, the response from the so-called international community is to schedule more talks--legitimizing the regime by engaging them directly.

By its own statements, the regime is committed to the destruction of Israel and the U.S. as well. Ahmadinejad has repeatedly denied the existence of the Holocaust, called for Israel be wiped off the map, spoken of achieving ``a world without America and Zionism.''

Iran is also the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, assisted the attacks on our soldiers and continues to this day in Iraq and Afghanistan, and poses a growing threat to the Persian Gulf, a major source of the world's oil. This threat is becoming global, as Tehran expands its presence and influence throughout the Middle East and South and Central Asia and right here in Latin America as well as Africa. But right here in our own hemisphere, one need look no further than the 1994 bombing of the Jewish community center in Argentina, Buenos Aires, to demonstrate Iran's willingness and ability to attack targets half a world away.

In July, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called for even stricter sanctions on Iran to try to change the behavior of the regime. I couldn't agree more, but we need them now. Let's act now.


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