February 16, 2006- Statement on H. Con. Res 341, on Iran Nonproliferation

"Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of H. Con. Res. 341.  Iran has obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) to not carry out a nuclear weapons program.  Iran has ignored its obligations by carrying out a covert uranium enrichment program.  It is becoming increasingly clear that this enrichment program is not merely aimed at producing nuclear fuel for a civilian energy program.  According the IAEA, Iran has documents in their possession for casting of enriched and depleted uranium metal into hemispheres – something which has no legitimate civilian purpose and which appears clearly to be related to the fabrication of nuclear weapons components.  Possession of these documents is a violation of the NPT.

I support the work of the IAEA to monitor Iran’s nuclear program, to press for Iran to agree to the Additional Protocol for enhanced monitoring and inspection of that program.  The British, the French, and the Germans have tried for years to convince Iran to move away from nuclear weapons capability and to agree to increased international monitoring of its nuclear activities.  Iran has rejected their efforts and made it clear that it is not willing to accept the type of negotiated solution proposed by the Europeans.
 
Right now we face a crisis that challenges the future of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.  If the international community cannot address the issue of Iran, then we risk the collapse of the NPT. 

I hope the U.N. Security Council can resolve this issue.   Now that this matter has been referred to the Security Council, the international community needs to begin a dialogue about how best to respond to Iran’s action.  We need to start thinking about tough and enforceable sanctions that can send a clear signal to Tehran that ignoring the will of the international community on this issue has consequences.

As we call upon Iran to stop their clandestine program, however, we must remember the United States also has obligations to the NPT.  We can not ask the world to enforce regulation on Iran while we shirk our obligations to the NPT by opening up nuclear trade with India, a country which has not signed the Treaty.  If we seek special exemptions from international and domestic nonproliferation law for India while simultaneously seeking strict enforcement of such laws for Iran, an NPT signatory, we will undermine our credibility as a leader on nonproliferation.  Iran will accuse us of hypocrisy, and other nations may seek similar special exemptions. 

For example, we know that China has long had a close relationship with Pakistan’s nuclear program.  Pakistan has already asked the U.S. to make special exemptions for them from international and domestic nonproliferation law.  China has called for that as well. Are we going to also exempt Pakistan from the international system of controls and safeguards established by the NPT and by U.S. law?  Are we going to stand by and do nothing if China goes ahead and sends the same type of nuclear technology and materials that we are talking about sending to India?

We also know that Russia has historically had a close relationship with the Iranian nuclear program.  They’ve been trying to get the Iranians to agree to a nuclear fuel supply arrangement in return for foregoing a domestic Iranian enrichment program.  But what if Moscow decides now to go far beyond that and afford Iran broader access to controlled nuclear technology, citing what we’re proposing to do with India?

I think that if we want to send a strong signal to Iran that its flouting of international nuclear nonproliferation norms is unacceptable and will have adverse consequences, then now is not the time to be thinking of granting selective exemptions from nonproliferation laws and treaties for other nations, even if they are our friends.  We need to be principled leaders on the most important of all issues facing our country.   We do now want Iran, with a regime that has made it clear that it desires the destruction of Israel, a regime that is known to have provided material support to terrorist groups, to obtain its own nuclear arsenal.

The time for us to act as an international community is now.  There are forces within Iran that want to move away from extremism.  We need to send a strong signal that the international community does not accept the current Iranian government’s nuclear aspirations, and that there will be consequences, there will be sanctions, if Tehran persists in its current course of action."