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Public Statements

Countering Iran in the Western Hemisphere Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Unknown

Mr. DUNCAN of South Carolina. Let me first say how proud we are that the Governor of South Carolina appointed one of our colleagues, Tim Scott, to the United States Senate yesterday. We wish him well.

I want to thank Madam Chairman for her leadership on this issue and her leadership on the Foreign Affairs Committee. I also want to thank Chairman Royce, the new chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, for his leadership on this as this bill came through the TNT Subcommittee. I want to thank the folks on the other side of the aisle that worked with us in a bipartisan fashion to pass this unanimously through the committee. It passed the House unanimously. I thank the Senate for taking up this very important issue. Furthermore, I want to thank Chairman Mike McCaul, the new chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, for leading a codel specifically focused on this issue this past summer to South America.

We're all aware of the Iranian threat or their proxies' activity here in this hemisphere. Whether it's the thwarted assassination attempt last year where the Quds Force operatives of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard were trying to use Mexican drug cartel connections to enter the United States to assassinate the Ambassador from Saudi Arabia, or the fact that it has recently been revealed that Hezbollah had a terrorist training camp or a training camp of some origin in Nicaragua here in this hemisphere, we know that Iran is active here.

Last week, the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Europe and the Americas visited Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia, and Uruguay. This follows Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's frequent trips to the region. Most recently, Iranian naval commanders have expressed their intent to extend Iran's maritime presence into the Atlantic Ocean, closer to the coastlines of the U.S.

With this piece of legislation, we seek to protect U.S. citizens from threats from Iran and defend American interests and assets here in this hemisphere. It requires the Secretary of State to conduct an assessment and develop a coordinated and targeted strategy, working together with our allies and partners here in the region, to address Iran's growing hostile presence and activity in the Western Hemisphere. With this, it establishes a strong U.S. posture, policy, and most important, a relationship with Latin American countries. It requires a plan to define and outline the presence, activities, and operations of Iran, the Revolutionary Guard, the Quds Force, Hezbollah, and any of their proxy organizations or transnational criminal organizations linked to Iran that may be present here. We require a plan to protect U.S. interests and assets here in the Western Hemisphere, including our embassies, consulates, businesses, energy pipelines, and cultural organizations, including threats to U.S. allies.

Iran's actions here in our neighborhood represent a real threat to our safety and security, and I urge my colleagues to concur in the Senate amendment so that this legislation may pass the House and be sent to the desk of the President of the United States.


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