S.Res 65 introduced by Menendez and Sen. Graham (R-SC) Calls for Implementation of U.S. and International Sanctions on Iran, Reaffirms the U.S. – Israel Relationship, Supports Israel’s Right to Self Defense
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, spoke on the Senate Floor today, in support of his resolution authored with Sen. Graham calling on the implementation of Iran sanctions, while reaffirming the U.S.-Israel relationship:
“I rise today to in favor of the Menendez-Graham Resolution strongly supporting full implementation of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran and urging the President to continue to strengthen enforcement of those sanctions.
I cannot emphasize enough my strong concerns about Iran’s nuclear program and the extraordinary threat it poses to the United States to Israel and to the entire international community.
Iran’s provocative actions threaten not just regional stability, but pose an existential threat to our ally Israel, and clearly are a very real threat to U.S. national security.
Iran continues to export terrorist activity directly and through proxies, like Hezbollah.
It continues to actively support the Assad regime in Syria with fighters, arms, and petroleum. It continues its unrelenting drive for nuclear weapons, placing it at the top of our list of national security concerns.
In my view, it remains the paramount national security challenge we face, certainly in the Middle East if not the world.
M. President, we are at a crossroads in our Iran policy and the question today is what do we do next?
The Obama Administration -- in concert with Congress -- has pursued the dual-track approach of diplomacy and sanctions.
Two weeks ago members of the Foreign Relations Committee met with Lady Ashton -- who has led the diplomatic track with the P5+1, along with Undersecretary Sherman.
The talks have been central in demonstrating to the world that it is Iran -- and not the United States -- that is acting in bad faith -- and it is Iran that -- through its obstinance -- has helped galvanize the international community to increase the pressure.
But the talks have failed to achieve their central objective -- getting Iran to make concessions on the nuclear program. It is clear to me that we cannot allow the Iranians to continue to drag their feet by talking while all the while they grow their nuclear program. Iran is proceeding apace. Today the International Atomic Energy Agency in its quarterly report said that Iran has installed almost 700 advanced IR2-m centrifuges at Natanz, an increase of more than 500 centrifuges since February. These are centrifuges that can more efficiently and more quickly refine uranium.
The IAEA report also again expressed concerned about the possible military dimensions of Iran’s nuclear program. We cannot allow Iran to buy more time taking -- even as the centrifuges keep spinning. There is no doubt, there has never been a doubt – not in my mind – that a nuclear-armed Iran is not an option.
That’s why I have been fully dedicated to doing everything we can to stop Iran from ever crossing that threshold. It’s why I introduced Senate Resolution 65 with Senator Graham that makes clear that a nuclear Iran is not an option -- and that the Unites States has Israel’s back and it’s why I have come to this floor – time-after-time – to enact the toughest sanctions that Iran has ever faced.
Working closely with the Obama administration we have implemented these sanctions in a way that is truly strangling the Iranian economy. Iran’s leaders must understand, that unless they change course their situation will only get worse and economic struggles and international isolation will only grow.
They must understand that at the end of the day their pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability will make them less – not more secure.
I also want to say something about Iran’s unacceptable and deplorable approach to the State of Israel and its continued threats to the Jewish State.
As the President has made clear time and again, America’s commitment to Israel’s security is unshakeable. I share the President’s commitment to Israel’s security and I know that my colleagues do as well.
Every time Iran makes outrageous threats it only succeeds in further uniting the world against it -- and strengthening America’s resolve. I strongly support the close and unprecedented security cooperation that the Administration has pursued with Israel and I know that this cooperation will only continue and deepen. I am deeply committed to doing everything I can to ensure that Israel is able to defend itself.
While this resolution makes absolutely clear that we are not authorizing the use of force, it does make clear that we have Israel’s back and specifically, that if Israel is compelled to take military action in self-defense against Iran’s nuclear program that we should stand with Israel – using all the tools of our national power – to assist Israel in defense of its territory, people and existence.
The bottom line: Israel should always understand that the United States has its back. That we will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons capability, and if we are forced to, we will take whatever means necessary to prevent this outcome. As the President has reiterated on numerous occasions, all options are on the table.
The simple fact is -- we need to continue to apply pressure and we must bring along the international community in our effort. Although Iran’s crude oil exports have been cut in half – from 2.5 million barrels per day in 2011 to approximately 1.25 million barrels per day now, Iran still had energy sector exports of exported $83 billion in 2012, including $60 billion in oil and another $23 billion in natural gas, fuel oil and condensates...
The sanctions are working – but they aren’t enough, and they aren’t working fast enough.
In my view, we need to double down on four fronts.
First, we need to encourage further reductions in energy sector purchases from Iran, including purchases of petroleum, fuel oil and condensates and prevent Iran from engaging in trade in precious metals to circumvent sanction.
Second, we need to ensure that we’ve prohibited trade with Iran with respect to all dual-use items that can be used in Iran’s nuclear program. That means adding additional industry sectors to the trade prohibition list.
Third, we need to ask the international community to ramp up the pressure and change Tehran’s calculus. A nuclear Iran -- after all -- isn’t only an American problem.
Fourth, the time may have also come to look more seriously at all options -- and that would include increasing military pressure against Iran.
I believe there is still time for diplomacy to work but increased military pressure could signal to the Supreme Leader that a nuclear program will undermine the security of his regime – not improve it.
Fundamentally, the challenge remains a difficult one, and we are walking a very fine line, but this Resolution says to the Supreme Leader that we will not let up. We will continue to apply pressure and that his continued pursuit of nuclear weapons is threatening the very existence of his regime.
I urge my colleagues to support the Menendez-Graham Resolution and full implementation of U.S. and international sanctions on Iran.”