Verbatim, as delivered
For decades to come, the world's preeminent historians will analyze the Iraq War and its manifold impact. But one impact is already clear: when dealing with a looming threat to international peace and security, Congress will insist that all - and I mean all - diplomatic and economic remedies be pursued before military action is considered. We are far from having exhausted all diplomatic and economic options for stopping Tehran's headlong pursuit of nuclear weapons.
But diplomacy vis-á-vis Iran does not stand a chance unless it is backed by strong international sanctions against the regime in Tehran. Iran's theocracy must understand that it cannot pursue a nuclear weapons program without sacrificing the political and economic future of the Iranian people.
That is why I introduced HR 1400, the Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007. It was my great pleasure to work with my good friend, the Ranking Republican Member of this Committee, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, in crafting this far-reaching bill.
The objective of this legislation is two-fold: To prevent Iran from securing nuclear arms and the means to produce them. And to ensure that we achieve this all-important goal in a peaceful manner.
My legislation will increase exponentially the economic pressure on Iran, and empower our diplomatic efforts by strengthening the Iran Sanctions Act. It will put an end to the Administration's ability to waive sanctions against foreign companies which invest in Iran's energy industry.
Until now, abusing its waiver authority and other flexibility in the law, the Executive Branch has never sanctioned any foreign oil company that invested in Iran. Those halcyon days for the oil industry are over.
The corporate barons running giant oil companies - who have cravenly turned a blind eye to Iran's development of nuclear weapons - have come to assume that the Iran Sanctions Act will never be implemented. This charade now comes to a long overdue end this morning.
Our legislation goes beyond the waiver issue. If a nation aids Iran's nuclear program, it will not be able to have a nuclear cooperation agreement with the United States.
Import sanctions will be re-imposed on all Iranian exports to the United States. As most of us remember, the Clinton Administration lifted sanctions on Iranian carpets and other exports in a gesture of unsuccessful goodwill and in an effort to encourage a more forthcoming attitude from Tehran.
But with innocent Americans now sitting in Iran's most notorious cells while the Iranian government brazenly continues its relentless pursuit of nuclear arms, it is self-evident that Tehran is not going to be responsive, so our goodwill gesture will be revoked.
My legislation also calls on the President to declare the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist group. The Revolutionary Guard trains terrorists throughout the Middle East, including in Iraq and in Lebanon. The Revolutionary Guard, which is a major base of support for Ahmadinejad, owns huge economic enterprises in Iran. Foreign banks will think twice about dealing with these enterprises once the Revolutionary Guard is declared a terrorist organization.
HR 1400 also enhances the importance of the Treasury Department's Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence by authorizing additional funds for fiscal year 2008 to conduct their most important work.
Our legislation makes clear that our quarrel is only with the government of Iran, not with its people and not with the glorious civilization they have built over the centuries. Accordingly, we have authorized funds for programs to enhance US-Iranian friendship, especially by organizing exchange programs for young Iranians.
Some Europeans will complain about this bill, as they complained when Iran sanctions legislation was first passed in 1996. They will point out that Secretary of State Albright essentially agreed not to impose Iran-related sanctions against the European Union in 1998. But 1998 is a long time ago.
In 1998, many European leaders were still holding out hope that Iran's nuclear efforts were strictly geared toward peaceful energy use. By now every single European leader fully understands, and acknowledges, that Iran is hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons. So it is time for Europeans' actions to catch up with their perceptions. It is time for Europe to cease investing in Iran's energy industry, and our legislation will facilitate that result.
Before it is too late, we must try to persuade others to join us in increasing the diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran and, where necessary, we must give them incentives to do so. Our goal must be zero foreign investment - let me repeat this, zero foreign investment - in Iran's energy sector. That is the only formula that can prevent Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons.
That is why I introduced this bill. That is why some 300 colleagues on a bipartisan basis, including most members of this Committee, are cosponsoring it. And that is why I ask all of my colleagues in Congress to join in that support.