Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:  Howard Berman
Date: Aug. 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Res. 750, and I yield myself 2 1/2 minutes.

The bill before us today marks a significant step forward in our sanctions effort against the Iranian regime and its illicit nuclear program, the sanctions effort which even Tehran acknowledges is already having a stressful impact on Iran's economy. I want to commend my colleague, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, for her work on this legislation; and I'm proud to be the bill's chief cosponsor in the House.

Building on previous sanctions, this bill adds to what the gentlelady and I set out to do when we introduced it. For example, through further limiting transitions with the Central Bank of Iran, an initiative I originated, this legislation restricts Iran's ability to repatriate the revenue it receives from its diminishing oil sales. It includes provisions that clamp down on Iran's oil exports by targeting the National Iranian Oil Company and the National Iranian Tanker Company; and it expands sanctions on Iranian shipping, insurance, and financing in the energy sector.

The bill also increases sanctions on transactions with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the spearhead of Iran's nuclear proliferation and terrorism effort and the dominant player in the Iranian economy. Further, at my suggestion, this bill now includes a measure which expands CISADA sanctions beyond financial institutions to include more than 200 additional individuals and companies that have been linked to Iran's nuclear weapons of mass destruction and terrorism programs.

And of critical importance, this bill vastly strengthens sanctions on both Iranian and Syrian human rights abusers. These provisions are very important, but the Iranians should not be fooled into thinking this is the last word on sanctions. Far from it.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I want to call on the administration to implement the authorities we have given them, fully and without delay. Iran's nuclear clock is ticking, and time is not on our side. The actions the executive branch took yesterday, including the first-ever CISADA sanctions on foreign banks--more than 2 years after CISADA became law--are a good beginning, but Iran's nuclear weapons program continues apace. Every day, it is enriching more uranium and at higher levels.

The only hope we have for a peaceful solution is to apply enough pressure to ensure that Iran ends its nuclear weapons program. The bill before us and the action the administration has taken applies significantly more pressure; but let there be no doubt, there is more we can do and more that we will do if Iran doesn't end its nuclear weapons program verifiably and completely. We have more work to do.


Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. I have no further requests for time.

And I'd like to just raise a couple of the issues that my friends, Mr. Paul from Texas and Mr. Kucinich from Ohio, have put forth in the context of opposition to this bill.

This is not the next step to war. This is the alternative to war. Iran having a nuclear weapon is unacceptable for many, many reasons:

It means the end of the nonproliferation regime;

It means countries all through that part of the world will seek their own nuclear weapons;

It raises the specter of nuclear weapons being passed on and dirty bombs being passed on to terrorists, and there is nothing in the comments of the regime that could let one relax and think they would never be the first to use those nuclear weapons.

That is unacceptable. Our alternatives are either war or finding a diplomatic resolution of their nuclear weapons program, the end of that program.

They've been found, not by the White House, not by some Vulcans in foreign policy, but by the IAEA and the U.N. Security Council, over and over again, to have violated their obligations under the nonproliferation treaty to which they are a signatory. They don't ratify the additional protocols. They move ahead with enrichment plants that they don't need for a peaceful weapons program.

They do not have a right to enrich. You could argue they have a right to a nuclear energy program, but not a right to enrich. They conceal information in violation of their treaty obligations.

This is, hopefully, the final step, but if not we will have to intensify the sanctions to achieve that diplomatic program.

And Iran is not some bucolic, peace-loving state that has never done anything against its neighbors. Everyone knows that Hezbollah is a direct foreign agent of Iran that gets its funding, its training, and its sponsorship and its directions from Iran.

We know what they've done to the marines in Lebanon. We've known what they tried to do to the Saudi Ambassador here in Washington. We know that in Delhi and in Bulgaria and a number of other capitals around the world, their effort to commit terrorist acts against Israeli diplomats and Israeli citizens. Their record as a state sponsor of terror is the largest and most impactful in the world.

They are pursuing a nuclear weapons capability. It is our obligation to do every measure we have to stop them from getting that, and we want to do it peacefully. This strategy that we are embarked on is an effort to find a way to do this without resorting to war, and I urge my colleagues to stand strongly behind this bill.

This is the alternative. It is the only feasible alternative. Otherwise, we are faced with two very dismal prospects: a military action or an Iran with nuclear weapons and all that means.

I urge an ``aye'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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