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Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


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

Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support today of H.R. 3783, the Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012, a bill introduced by my good friend, Mr. Duncan, an esteemed member of our Foreign Affairs Committee. I would like to thank him for his hard work on the issues addressed in this important bill.

In February, the Committee on Foreign Affairs held a hearing entitled ``Ahmadinejad's Tour of Tyrants and Iran's Agenda in the Western Hemisphere'' in order to examine the threat to U.S. national security posed by Iran and Iranian-sponsored activities in the Western Hemisphere. One month later, this bipartisan measure was unanimously adopted by our Committee on Foreign Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, as we have witnessed in the last few weeks, the violence perpetrated by extremists in the Middle East against our embassies and our consulates undermines our foreign policy objectives, and we must prevent these vicious attacks from occurring in our region.

Let us not forget that 18 years ago, Iranian so-called diplomats readily partnered with Hezbollah, a U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organization, to carry out a deadly attack against the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Iran has only increased its subversive action since then, and over the past decade the regime has increased diplomatic and economic ties between Iran and the radical regimes in Latin America.

Iran's Ahmadinejad made two trips to Latin America this year to visit his fellow tyrants: the Castro brothers in Cuba, Ortega in Nicaragua, Correa in Ecuador, Chavez in Venezuela, and Morales in Bolivia.

In an attempt to promote its extremist propaganda, the Iranian regime recently launched a Spanish television network to reach a larger international audience centered in the Western Hemisphere. More embassies and cultural centers have opened in Bolivia, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Chile, and Uruguay, in addition to its existing diplomatic missions in Cuba, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Venezuela.

According to a U.S. intelligence analyst, these diplomatic missions are simply fronts for Iran to carry out its nefarious activities in the region and a potential platform to increase the presence of the Qods Force operatives, a designated foreign terrorist organization and an arm of the Revolutionary Guard of Iran.

According to media reports, Hezbollah, which is Iran's proxy, has established a training base in Nicaragua. It is also concerning that the Ortega regime in Nicaragua does not require any visas for Iranian officials to enter the country, which can then become the gateway to enter the United States through our southern border. Ten days ago, there were news reports stating that several alleged Hezbollah members were arrested in Mexico. Iran has worked tirelessly to promote its extremist ideologies and support efforts to undermine the democratic governments throughout the region.

H.R. 3783 requires the Secretary of State to outline a U.S. Government-wide strategy to fight the aggressive actions of Iran and its proxies such as Hezbollah in the Western Hemisphere toward a comprehensive policy stance that will protect U.S. security interests.

This legislation calls for the administration to develop a plan to secure the U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and to prevent operatives from entering the United States. It also calls for a plan to isolate Iran and its proxies from their sources of financial support, and it addresses efforts by foreign persons, entities, and governments in the region that may be assisting Iran in evading sanctions.

Lastly, it develops a plan to protect U.S. interests and assets in our Western Hemisphere, including embassies, consulates, businesses, and cultural organizations. We must ensure that the United States is actively monitoring this threat and that it takes appropriate steps to counter the Iranian regime's agenda in our hemisphere. I strongly support the passage of this legislation.

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


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