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Blumenthal: If Sanctions Against Iran Fail, We Must Be Prepared To Act

(Washington, DC)  Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) delivered a speech on the floor of the U.S. Senate on S.Res. 41, which strongly supports a U.S. policy to prevent the Iranian government from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability. The resolution also expresses support for the universal rights and democratic aspirations of the people of Iran.

A video of his remarks can be viewed here, and a transcript of his remarks is below:

Mr. Blumenthal: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to begin by thanking my colleague and friend from South Carolina who so eloquently and powerfully stated the case for this resolution. But even before discussing Resolution 41, I want to thank him and our colleagues who spoke today on the floor about the Rand Paul resolution. I think that this morning’s debate – and I listened to it for all three hours because I was presiding at the time really marked one of the finer moments of my brief 21 months as a member of the United States Senate.

What I saw this morning was an articulate, thoughtful, and courageous statement against a resolution that would do grave harm to this nation’s national interests if it became law and if it bound the United States government and cut off aid to these countries. I think that the case stated was courageous because it very likely may prove unpopular with some elements of their own party, to put very bluntly, the political reality here. But I think it was one of the finer moments of this body because it marked a point of clarity and a clear recognition for the need to come together as a nation when our national interests are threatened, when our national security is at stake, when the harm to this nation requires acting together.

And so I’m hoping that this spirit of bipartisanship will also come together, as it has so far with 82 cosponsors on the resolution that – that we have sponsored, Senate resolution 41. And it began, as Senator Graham has rightly observed, with the Senators. He was one of the key leaders. So were Senator Lieberman, Senator Ayotte, Senator Hoeven, Senator Casey, Senator Menendez. I was proud to be among them. And the spirit of bipartisanship and the strength of that spirit, I think, was really extraordinary.

Here is what we know: At a time of confusion and obfuscation in many respects when foreign policy is concerned, knowing with certainty some of the facts here is very important. We all know from the International Atomic Energy Agency that as of November 2011, Iran had produced approximately 5,000 kilograms of uranium, enriched up to 3.5 percent. We know also that this Iranian regime is the most active state sponsor of terrorism in the world, according to our department of state. We know that this regime has repeatedly expressed its desire – and I’m quoting – to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Wipe Israel off the map. We know that this regime has provided weapons and training to Hamas, Hezbollah and militias in Iraq that murder civilians and spread terror. And we know that it has already actively, consistently provided aid to the Assad regime in Syria in its brutal and unconscionable repression of its own people, the murders and torture that have occurred directly linked to Iran. We know that if the Iranian government succeeds in developing nuclear weapons, if it does, it will lead to an arms race in that part of the world, as threatening as any other potential harm to this nation. And we know that Iran would create access for terrorists, access for them to these nuclear weapons, making the Middle East a nuclear tinderbox.

We cannot trust this regime. We know that fact beyond any potential doubt. Iran’s nuclear program is of extraordinarily grave concern, not only to nations in that part of the world but to all nations everywhere that want peace, and that is why an international coalition has come together with the leadership of the United States of America. Iran cannot be permitted to continue its nuclear program to a point where it is capable of making a nuclear weapon. And despite repeated calls for it to suspend or stop this program, we know with certainty.

Iranian leaders show no signs, none of waiting or wanting to halt their program to build nuclear weapons. In fact, recent intelligence shows that they’re continuing to enrich uranium and develop nuclear facilities, and that is why we need Senate Resolution 41. No question that the administration under President Obama has repeatedly affirmed his commitment to such a policy. The President has made this position, the position of the United States absolutely clear. I’m quoting President Obama. Quote – “Iran’s leaders should understand that I do not have a policy of containment. I have a policy to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.” That is the message of Senate Resolution 41. That is the message that we must convey as a nation together from all parties, all parts of the United States, all interests that time is limited, time is limited to keep Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability so this resolution calls for increased pressure on Iran to come into compliance with the United States security resolutions.

And this resolution builds on my efforts scaling for successful talks that would lead Iran to halt its nuclear program. This resolution says to the world that the United States and the governments of other responsible nations have a vital mutual interest in working together to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon capability. Let us underscore the word and recognize its importance. A nuclear weapons capability. Many of us – and I have done so – have written multiple times to President Obama outlining a framework that would lead to successful negotiations, and my hope is that the combination of strict international sanctions and international condemnation of a nuclear armed Iran will convince that government to desist and cease its program of nuclear weapons capability building.

It’s not in our interests, it’s not in the world’s interests. Ultimately, it’s not in that regime’s interests. But if sanctions fail, we must be prepared to act. And so this resolution expresses the resolution and the resoluteness of this body. And I’m hopeful that sanctions will work, but if the government of Iran is unconvinced by this very compelling case, it must know that this issue is not a partisan one, it’s not one on which we are divided. We stand together, we stand strong, we are resolute and resilient, and the United States and its allies will join together to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran. Again, I want to thank the Senator from South Carolina, all of the colleagues that have joined, all 82 who have joined as cosponsors. We began with a handful, but the compelling power and persuasiveness of the need for this resolution I think is carrying the day, and I again yield to the Senator from South Carolina, my good friend and the leader in this effort.