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Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2011

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. WAXMAN. Mr. Speaker, I strongly support this legislation whose purpose is to deny Iran both the ability to support terrorist organizations and to develop nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

I want to express my strong admiration and support for Representative HOWARD BERMAN, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Without Representative BERMAN's forceful and steadfast leadership, this legislation to impose the most stringent sanctions yet on Iran would not have come before us. We are standing firm against Iran because of Representative BERMAN's ceaseless efforts to forge a bipartisan consensus to act against the grave threat to Israel and other allies that is posed by Iran and its leadership.

Iran is a growing danger to peace and stability in the Middle East and beyond. Its nuclear program in and of itself is the most dangerous threat to peace in the world today. Together with its support for Hamas in Gaza, Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian regime, Iran is an ongoing and growing danger to the region and the world.

Iran's unremitting hostility to the United States, to Israel and others requires the most forceful response.

It is clear that Iran's leaders are determined to acquire a nuclear weapon. All of the independent international assessments, including from the International Atomic Energy Agency, attest to a steady progression to weaponize its uranium assets. At the same time, Iran is perfecting its medium and long-range missile capabilities.

Together, these initiatives can only have one purpose: at the least, to enable Iran to exercise nuclear blackmail in pursuit of its extreme agenda. But this also means that Iran will have the Iranian people. capability to actually use a nuclear weapon, and bring a catastrophe upon us all--and upon the Iranian people.

This is unacceptable. Iran's nuclear program must be stopped. Iran simply must not be permitted to acquire a nuclear weapon.

President Obama has been exceptionally clear on Iran. Just last week, on December 8, President Obama again was emphatic in stating U.S. policy:

``..... What I can say with respect to Iran, I think it's very important to remember, particularly given some of the political noise out there, that this administration has systematically imposed the toughest sanctions on Iraq--on Iran ever.

``When we came into office, the world was divided, Iran was unified and moving aggressively on its own agenda. Today, Iran is isolated, and the world is unified in applying the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever experienced. And it's having an impact inside of Iran. And that's as a consequence of the extraordinary work that's been done by our national security team.

``Now, Iran understands that they have a choice: They can break that isolation by acting responsibly and foreswearing the development of nuclear weapons, which would still allow them to pursue peaceful nuclear power, like every other country that's a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, or they can continue to operate in a fashion that isolates them from the entire world. And if they are pursuing nuclear weapons, then I have said very clearly, that is contrary to the national security interests of the United States; it's contrary to the national security interests of our allies, including Israel; and we are going to work with the world community to prevent that.''

With respect to what the United States is willing to do to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, President Obama said, ``No options off the table means I'm considering all options.''

The best way to avoid getting to that point is to do everything we can to impose the harshest pressure on Iran in order to make its present nuclear course unsustainable to the regime.

The Iran Threat Reduction Act will put into force the strongest sanctions yet against Iran. It imposes sanctions on Iran's oil industry, including sanctions on the importation of gasoline, which Iran desperately needs. There are increased sanctions on defense products and technology.

Sanctions are also imposed on the Central Bank of Iran and across the financial and banking sectors. Because Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon, it will become exceedingly impossible for Iran to engage in international commerce.

The best alternative to the present regime is to encourage Iranians opposed to its brutal repression to continue to work for democracy and freedom. To this end, this bill provides financial and political assistance to individuals and organizations that support democracy in Iran.

In addition, the legislation specifically targets for sanctions those who are part of, or associated with, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps--the Iranian regime's arm of repression who wantonly violate the human rights of the Iranian people.

Taken together, these measures constitute the imposition of crippling sanctions against the Iranian government and those who do business with it.

This bill delivers one message to the Iran's leaders: stop now.

We cannot tolerate an Iran armed with nuclear weapons, and the means to deliver them against Israel and other countries, such as Saudi Arabia, in the Middle East.

The very best strategy to stop Iran's nuclear program is to make business and commerce in Iran untenable for as long as Iran is pursuing a nuclear capability, and to target the regime's repressive elements--the Revolutionary Guard--with massive penalties.

By every indication, time--and patience--with Iran is growing shorter. This legislation is the least we can do to bring relentless pressure on Iran to change course.

I support this bill and once again thank Representative HOWARD BERMAN for his courageous leadership in helping us face the most dangerous foreign policy crisis in the world today.


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