Foreign Affairs Committee Convenes Latest in Series of Hearings on Iran Today at 10 a.m.
Chairman Royce Opening Statement
Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will convene the Committee’s latest in a series of hearings on the Iranian regime’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and the Obama Administration’s ongoing nuclear negotiations with Tehran. At the hearing, the Committee will examine Iran’s ongoing efforts to destabilize the Middle East region. The hearing, entitled “Iran’s Destabilizing Role in the Middle East,” will begin at 10:00 a.m.
Yesterday, the Committee launched a webpage on Iran to highlight bipartisan efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran. The webpage is available at www.foreignaffairs.house.gov/NoNuclearIran.
Live webcast and witness testimony of today’s hearing will be available HERE.
Below is Chairman Royce’s opening statement as prepared for delivery at the hearing:
The Committee will come to order. This morning we look at Iran’s considerable efforts to destabilize the Middle East.
When it comes to Iran, attention has rightly been focused on efforts to stop its nuclear program. But as one witness will explain this morning, “Iran’s nuclear program is just the tip of a revolutionary spear that extends across the world and threatens key U.S. interests.” Tehran’s foreign policy – he goes on to say – “is subversive, sectarian, and set on goals that would come at the expense of U.S. interests in the region.” He is right.
Indeed, with Iran’s long support of terrorist groups, militias and regimes, the region has been feeling the brunt of this “revolutionary spear” for quite some time. Thanks to Iran, Hamas has re-armed since 2012. And nearly 80 percent of Israel’s citizens are fleeing to bomb shelters as a result. With Iran’s aid, Shia militias within Iraq are rearming and mobilizing. The Assad regime, with Iranian forces, continues massacring Syrians. With Iran’s aid, Hezbollah is able to threaten Israel with over 25,000 rockets, while Houthi rebels supported by Iran are closing in on Yemen’s capital. Quite a record for the regime now sitting across the table from us in Vienna, where the Administration has conceded that this number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world can enrich uranium, the pathway to a nuclear weapon.
Of course these aren’t random efforts to support terrorism by the Iranian regime – but concerted actions by the Shi’a-led government to overturn what Iran believes is a regional power structure that favors the United States, Israel, and their “collaborators,” mainly the Sunni Muslim governments in the Gulf. This is a recipe for disaster for the region and U.S. interests there.
Today, Tehran’s work is on full display, as hundreds of rockets have rained down on southern Israel. It is Iran that provides the funding, weapons, and training to Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups. Iranian leaders have admitted to providing the missile technology that Hamas used against Israel during the last Gaza conflict in November 2012. And just the other week, a U.N. panel of experts concluded that rockets and weapons concealed on the Klos-C - including long-range M-302 rockets - originated from Iran. Other shipments have gotten through, as Hamas have fired the recently acquired rockets for the first time. These weapons put about two thirds of Israel's eight million people into Gaza's range of fire. One of them struck Hadera, a coastal city between Tel Aviv and Haifa that is 73 miles north of Gaza.
In recent years, Iran has come under increasing strain from international sanctions aimed at stopping its nuclear program. This is what got Iran to the nuclear negotiation table. But even with its economy damaged, Iran has managed to provide robust support to extremist proxies as part of its broader geopolitical agenda across the region.
Now the United States and other world powers are negotiating a final nuclear agreement with Iran that would lift most of its sanctions. Bad deal or good deal, and many of us fear a bad deal, any sanctions relief will bolster Iran. As one witness notes, Iran stands to gain about $100 billion in frozen bank accounts and billons as oil exports resume. That’s a lot of M-302 rockets.
How will an Iran unchained by international sanctions treat its neighbors? How are the United States and our allies positioned to counter Iran’s destabilizing activities in the Middle East? I’m afraid we’ll hear from our witnesses today, “not well.”
I’ll now turn to the ranking member for any opening comments he may have.