02.16.06

The Need for Unity Regarding Iran's Nuclear Program

Mr. SCHIFF. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a cosponsor of this resolution. Iran's resumption of nuclear activities and its non-compliance with international commitments must be met by a united Congress and a united international community.

For almost 3 years, the United States, the European Union, Russia, the IAEA and other parties have been working to negotiate an end to those parts of Iran's nuclear program that could allow it to produce nuclear weapons. Iran has continued to mislead the international community about its efforts. It has alternated diplomatic overtures with clandestine activity on its nuclear program.

In June 2004, just a few months after making assurances to the international community, Iran was criticized by the IAEA for failing to cooperate with an inquiry of its nuclear activities. In November 2004, Iran agreed to suspend much of its uranium enrichment in a deal with the EU. However, in August 2005, Iran resumed its uranium conversion at its Isfahan plant and in January 2006, broke IAEA seals at its Natanz facility. It has since resumed enriching uranium at that facility.

Experts indicate that Iran could produce a nuclear weapon in as little as 3 to 5 years. According to a report issued by the IAEA to member governments on January 31, 2006, Iran has a clandestine effort, dubbed Green Salt, which has been working on uranium processing, high explosives and a missile warhead design. The report clearly demonstrates a nexus between Iran's efforts to develop a nuclear fuel cycle and Tehran's military, thus undercutting the Iranian government's repeated denials that it seeks to develop nuclear weapons. 

Iran's growing nuclear capability is compounded by a series of recent statements by Iran's president, in which he declared that a fellow member of the United Nations must be wiped off the map. These remarks demonstrate a disregard for human life and undermine the central principle of the United Nations. The world community cannot stand by while an outlaw regime announces its desire to annihilate millions of people and attempts to develop the nuclear weapons to do so. The community of nations has properly condemned these threats; now we must ensure that Iran will never develop the capability to act on them.

I am hopeful that all members of the United Nations Security Council will take a strong stand for international peace and security when this issue is considered by the Security Council in March. I can think of no greater priority for the Council and believe that concerted action by the Council's Permanent Members represents the best opportunity to defuse this crisis.

As a gesture of appreciation from the Congress, I, along with Mr. Kirk of Illinois and Mr. Andrews of New Jersey, am circulating a letter to the other Permanent Members of the Security Council. The letter thanks them for their support in reporting Iran to the Security Council and urges them to establish consequences to continued non-compliance. I encourage my colleagues to sign the letter.

I am hopeful that with a united Congress and a united international community, we can prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons which could destabilize the entire region and which could be used to carry out Iran's professed desire to wipe millions of its neighbors off the map.