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Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Speaker, I have spoken on this floor many times about the Iranian threat and the need for action to stop it, but ultimately we will all be judged by a simple question: Did we stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapons capability? If the answer is ``no,'' if we fail, then nothing else matters. If we fail, it would be of no comfort to the American people whose security and future would be put in danger. If we fail, it would be of no comfort to our ally, Israel, whose very existence would be put in danger.

History is full of avoidable tragedies, of foolish countries that have allowed their enemies to prepare to destroy them. The entire world now is fully aware of Iran's true intention. Now is the time to take a stand. As Sir Winston Churchill said:

You ask, What is our aim? I can answer with one word: victory. For without victory, there is no survival.

To get us on that path to victory, Mr. Speaker, I ask my colleagues to render their full support to the Iran Threat Reduction and the Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, a bicameral, bipartisan agreement that represents the strongest set of sanctions ever put in place against the regime in Tehran. It blacklists virtually all of Iran's energy, financial, and transportation sectors, and cuts off companies that keep doing business with Iran from access to our markets in the United States.

This legislation also imposes sanctions to prevent Iran from repatriating any proceeds from its oil sales, depriving the Iranian regime of 80 percent of its hard currency earnings and half of the funds that support its budget. This bill also imposes tough new sanctions on the National Iranian Oil Company, the National Iranian Tanker Company, and Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. It also targets Iran's use of barter transactions to bypass sanctions, the provisions of insurance to Iran's energy sector. It also targets provisions of specialized financial messaging services to the Central Bank of Iran.

Mr. Speaker, in 1995, the late former Secretary of State, Warren Christopher said:

In terms of its organization, programs, procurement, and covert activities, Iran is pursuing the classic route to nuclear weapons, which has been followed by almost all states that have recently sought a nuclear capability.

That was in 1995.

Secretary Christopher added:

There is no room for complacency.

Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act in '96. That law, now called the Iran Sanctions Act, sought to target Iran's economic lifeline--its energy sector--and denied Tehran the financial resources to pursue its nuclear ambitions, to sponsor violent Islamic groups, and to dominate the region.

Regrettably, just a couple years after enactment of that law, the Clinton administration issued a blanket waiver of energy sector sanctions that has been continued by successive administrations.

In 1996, U.S. concerns were not shared by our allies in Europe and Asia, who argued that trade, dialogue, and engagement toward the Iranian regime would succeed in moderating Tehran's behavior. This allowed the Iranian threat to flourish.

However, Congress continued to develop new legislative countermeasures in the form of the Iran Freedom Support Act of 2006 and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to address these Iranian threats and to hold the regime accountable for its human rights violations, for its state sponsorship of violent extremists, and for its pursuit of a nuclear capability.

We have analyzed Iranian reaction and behavior in response to these new sanctions. We have looked at what steps our allies have undertaken and considered the actions, or the paralysis, of the United Nations. But most importantly, Mr. Speaker, we have intensified our response as the Iranian threat has evolved and grown.

We know that ``the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.'' But far more than vigilance is needed in this case.

Which brings us to the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, which we are considering today. This bipartisan, bicameral agreement seeks to tighten the choke hold on the regime beyond anything that has been done before. It sends a clear message that the American people, through their elected representatives, are fully committed to using every economic and political lever at their disposal to prevent Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.

Through this bill, we declare that the Iranian energy sector is off limits, and it blacklists any related unauthorized dealings. It will undermine Iran's ability to repatriate the revenues it receives from the sale of crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds needed to sustain its nuclear program. It prevents the purchasing of Iranian sovereign debt, thereby further limiting the regime's ability to finance its illicit activities. It also expands sanctions against Iranian and Syrian officials for human rights abuses, particularly those facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments.

Yet we should be under no illusions, Mr. Speaker, that this legislation is a magic wand that we wave, and we will resolve the problem overnight. Sanctions have helped to knock the regime off balance. But unless the executive branch fully implements these measures immediately, the regime is likely to regain its footing and further speed up its nuclear march. So let us act now to stop that march.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

[Begin Insert]

Mr. Speaker, the threat posed by the Iranian regime is not just a threat to the United States, or to our allies, or to the Iranian people.

The Iranian regime is also a threat to the Syrian people, because of Iran's close ties and assistance, including weapons that have helped the regime in Syria to slaughter thousands.

Like Iran, Syria is a state sponsor of terrorism that poses a threat to the U.S., to our ally Israel, and to other responsible nations.

I hope to be back on the House floor in the near future with the Syria Freedom Support Act to address the totality of the Syrian threat, but today we stand ready to hold the Assad regime accountable for its gross human rights violations.

Today, we seek to ensure that neither of these brutal regimes has access to resources that would enable them to perpetuate their cruelty.

Those allies who, 16 years ago, wanted to engage and continue business as usual with Iran and who, until just a few years ago, were proposing expanded trade agreements with the Assad regime in Syria, have awaken to take a stand against the threatening activities of these pariah states.

Congress must carry out its responsibility to the American people and overwhelmingly adopt the bicameral, bipartisan agreement we are considering today.

I urge the President to quickly sign it into law and immediately and fully implement the sanctions it contains.

[End Insert]


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