Ros-Lehtinen Urges the Administration to Stop Issuing Waivers and to Fully Implement and Enhance Iran Sanctions

May 15, 2013 Issues: Foreign Affairs

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, made the following statement today at a full House Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing titled: “Preventing a Nuclear Iran.”

Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

Thank you Mr. Chairman, and thank you for the witnesses as well.

Iran continues to pose one of the greatest threats not only to U.S. national security, but to global peace and security.

Tehran continues to provide financial, material and logistical support for terrorist groups like Hezbollah, who undermine our interests in Syria.

It remains an ally of Assad, the murderous thug in Syria –arming the regime and sending in its own Qods Force soldiers to fight alongside Assad’s troops;

Negotiations have been useless, Iran refuses to honor its international obligations related to its ballistic missile and nuclear programs, and yet we continue down this road.

Iranian authorities deny access to those investigating the terrible human rights violations that are rampant in the country.

We’ve got to learn from the mistakes in the past so that we don’t keep making them.

And I’m interested in hearing from Mr. Cohen about the actions that his agency is taken to discourage Iran from using Venezuela and other areas to circumvent U.S. sanctions.

For years, this Committee has led Congress in efforts to stop Tehran’s nuclear progress, we’ve enacted several rounds of sanctions legislation that have worked to stun the regime, exacting pain on Iran’s economy.

Under Secretary Cohen, I would like to commend and applaud the Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence for its work in enforcing and improving sanctions on the Iranian regime.

Last week, Treasury designated an Iranian financial institution – the Iranian Venezuelan Bi-National Bank – using authorities aimed at freezing the assets of proliferators of weapons of mass destruction and their supporters. Keep it up, thank you.

For years I have been concerned about Iran’s increased efforts in the Western Hemisphere, especially the strong footprint that it continues to have in Venezuela.

Several presidential candidates in Iran right now have arrest notices issued by Interpol because of their participation in the bombing of the AMIA Jewish Community Center in Argentina.

  • What further actions can your department take to discourage Iran from using Venezuela from getting into other countries to circumvent U.S. sanctions and what is your assessment of Iran’s activities in the Western Hemisphere?

We’ve got to continue to ensure that companies or financial institutions that are violating U.S. sanctions are not overlooked and are held accountable, but I have been more than dismayed by the lack of urgency from the Administration on this threat to our national security, and the security of our ally, the democratic, Jewish State of Israel is in jeopardy.

Without learning from the mistakes that we have made with the North Korean nuclear program and the Six Party talks, the Administration still believes Iran can be disarmed with diplomacy.

It views Iran’s nuclear program through rose tinted glasses, refusing to see what is self-evident to all: diplomatic overtures have not, and will not ever work with Iran.

Ambassador Sherman, when you testified before this Committee in October 2011, you said correctly that sanctions are most effective when they are severe, and when they are enforced.

Yet two years later and yet the Administration continues its engagement policy.

  • Do you believe that engagement with Iran will yield positive results?
  • What concessions has the Administration offered to keep negotiations on the table, if any?

And the latest rounds of P5+1 negotiations with Iran have ended in failure yet again as you pointed out the only thing that has changed is Iran being closer to nuclear weapons capability, like Charlie Brown and the football. When will the Administration learn that Lucy will still pull that football away?

I agree that sanctions must be fully and vigorously enforced.

  • Why then does State continue to not fully implement certain sanctions, why do you provide waivers on others, like repeatedly providing 20 sanction waivers to countries buying Iranian crude oil?

Also this week, the Administration announced the U.S. will not participate at the ambassadorial level in the upcoming Conference on Disarmament upon hearing that Iran is set to chair this session, but stopped short of saying we will withdraw completely.

And so we missed yet another opportunity to bring about change at the UN. Iran chairing the disarmament conference is like allowing the inmates to run the prison.

We should make it clear to the UN that it must immediately remove Iran from chairing this conference, bar it from attending, or lose U.S. support and funding.

Will we ever to that?