Washington, DC – Chairman Tom Lantos of the House Foreign Affairs Committee today stated that the latest revelations about Iran’s nuclear program underscore the need for concerted diplomatic action, and bolster the argument against the kind of saber-rattling that has come from the Administration in recent months.
“This newest information supports what I have said all along: We need to give diplomacy with Iran more of a chance,” Lantos said. “I continue to favor dialogue between our two countries, in contrast to the Administration’s belligerent and stiff-necked refusal to talk with Tehran. And I believe we need to use every means at our disposal – economic, political and diplomatic – to persuade Iranians that peaceful development of energy options, free of any hint of military use, is well within reach.”
For several years Lantos has made sustained attempts to obtain an Iranian visa in order to meet with officials in Tehran; despite support from the United Nations secretary general and other international figures, to date the Iranians have not granted him a visa.
In the meantime, Lantos has authored two bipartisan legislative initiatives concerning Iran’s nuclear weapons pursuit. His Iran Counter-Proliferation Act (H.R. 1400), which the House passed 397-16 in September, establishes a regime for economic pressure. It removes the Executive Branch’s authority under current law to waive sanctions on companies investing in Iran’s energy sector, which supports the country’s nuclear weapons program, and it blocks U.S. civil nuclear cooperation with countries that assist Iran’s nuclear program. Lantos is also the author of the International Nuclear Fuel for Peace and Nonproliferation Act (H.R. 885), adapted as part of the defense authorization bill currently before the House. This legislation supports the establishment of an international regime for the assured supply of nuclear fuel for peaceful means so that no country needs to develop the fuel-producing technology, which can be adapted for use in creating nuclear weapons material.
“In its unclassified report, the intelligence community has judged that Iran makes its decisions about a nuclear weapons program based on a cost-benefit analysis,” Lantos noted. “This suggests that Tehran may be open to a combination of pressure and incentives to keep it from returning to developing a nuclear arsenal. And the latest publicly-available intelligence indicates that it will take longer for Iran to produce sufficient materials for a nuclear weapon than previously thought. So we have more time – beyond the end of the current Administration – to continue to push for this mixture of pressure and incentives.
“The White House may try to change the subject or dispute the conclusions, but the facts are clear: the intelligence community has drawn valuable lessons from the chain of events that led to the invasion of Iraq, and there now appears to be no reason for us to go down that road again in Iran.”