Washington, D.C. – This afternoon, the House of Representatives will consider the bipartisan Nuclear Iran Prevention Act (H.R. 850), introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), the Committee’s Ranking Member.  Approved unanimously by the Committee in May, the bill has 378 co-sponsors.

During today’s floor debate, Chairman Royce will deliver the following (as prepared for delivery) remarks: 

There is no higher national security priority than preventing a nuclear-armed Iran.  Foreign Affairs Ranking Member Engel and I have worked in a bipartisan way to bring this legislation to the floor.  Indeed, 378 members of the House are cosponsors.  

That’s the broad recognition that not enough is being done to stop Iran’s nuclear program, which is a danger to us, the region, and the world.   

Today we act with a sense of urgency.  Urgency because Iran’s march to nuclear weapons continues.  Indeed, in less than two years, the International Atomic Energy Agency tells us that the total installed centrifuges at the facilities at Natanz and Fordow have increased from roughly 8,500 to more than 15,700 – almost doubling.  

Some of these new centrifuges are perhaps five times as powerful as earlier models.  A key facility is buried deep below a mountain.  Iran continues to stonewall the IAEA on its development of nuclear explosive devices. 

So Iran’s intent to develop a nuclear arsenal is evident.  New president or not, I am convinced that Iran’s Supreme Leader intends to continue on this path.  

That’s unless the sanctions bite so bad the regime must relent or face upheaval.  That’s why this legislation dramatically steps up the pressure on Tehran. 

It targets Iran’s energy sector by compelling countries that are currently purchasing oil from Iran to reduce their collective total by one million barrels per day within a year; it targets additional sectors of Iran’s economy; it further denies the regime access to foreign currency reserves, and it effectively targets Iranian efforts to circumvent international sanctions against its shipping sector.

Equally important, this legislation increases sanctions against Iranian human rights abusers, making clear that it’s the Iranian people we’re siding with. 

Only when the Iranian leadership truly feels a choice between maintaining power and obtaining the bomb does our diplomacy have a chance to succeed.  

We know the Iranian regime’s view of the world.  Its support is keeping the brutal Assad regime afloat.  It has resupplied Hezbollah with at least 25,000 new rockets which target Israel.  In recent years, there have been Iranian-sponsored attacks or plots in Bulgaria, India, Thailand, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Kenya – and here, in Washington, D.C. 

I’d hate to see an Iran emboldened by a nuclear weapon. 

But that is the course we are on – unless we dramatically step up the pressure.  Let’s pass this bill.

From day one, the Obama Administration has reached out to engage the Iranian regime.  Unfortunately, that hand has been met with more centrifuges, more missiles, and more stonewalling.  The selection of a new president in Iran is leading to more wishful thinking from the Administration.     

Let’s understand who we’re dealing with in President Rouhani:  from 1989 through 2005, he was the Chairman of the Supreme National Security Council; he called on the regime’s Basij militia to – in his words – “crush mercilessly and monumentally” – the student protests of July 1999, in which more than a dozen students were killed, more than 1,000 arrested, and hundreds were tortured; he has bragged about advancing Iran’s nuclear program, deceiving the international community.

Still, some believe we should take our foot off the gas.  But the fact is that we have been slow walking our Iran sanctions for a decade.  We’d be in a far better position today if we had been more aggressive years ago, when the Administration was urging caution and opposing sanctions efforts.  With Iran getting ready for a “nuclear breakout,” we need to be intensifying economic pressure .  That is what this bipartisan legislation does.