Iran Sanctions More Important Than Ever
‘This legislation will enhance our ability to hold Iran accountable, which is of great importance given Iran’s continued testing of ballistic missiles, its harassment of U.S. vessels at sea, and its support of terrorism across the region. At a time when we face many challenges — both at home and abroad — we must do everything we can to enable our country to counter threats where they exist and protect the American people.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding the Iran sanctions bill:
“Yesterday, the Republican Senate took another step to advance key sanctions legislation to hold Iran accountable. The Iranians are pursuing a regional strategy intent on empowering Shia militias, Hezbollah, their Houthi proxies and other groups. After years of the Obama Administration’s willingness to ignore Iran’s malign activities and failure to address Iran’s provocations, we finally have an administration that shares our desire to take a stronger approach to keep the American people safe.
“This legislation will enhance our ability to hold Iran accountable, which is of great importance given Iran’s continued testing of ballistic missiles, its harassment of U.S. vessels at sea, and its support of terrorism across the region. At a time when we face many challenges — both at home and abroad — we must do everything we can to enable our country to counter threats where they exist and protect the American people. That’s why we’ll keep working to pass this Iran sanctions legislation, and with it, additional sanctions on Russia. I again want to commend the Chairs and Ranking Members on the Banking and Foreign Relations Committees, who worked to craft a bipartisan amendment.
“This is a signal action. Russia’s attempt to influence our elections last year was the result of eight years of a failed foreign policy. The Obama Administration’s efforts to draw down our conventional capabilities and commitments made it clear to aggressor states such as China, Russia, and Iran that America would watch passively as they increased their respective spheres of influence. This bipartisan amendment should represent the first step in crafting a policy response to cyber-attacks against our country.
“Two things must follow from this small step. First, our Department of Defense and Intelligence Community must develop a warfighting doctrine and strategy which recognizes cyberattacks, active measures, and support of proxies as asymmetric, unconventional attacks upon the United States. Our response needs to be tied to the escalatory ladder and an overwhelming response. No nation state should be able to attack our sovereignty without suffering an unacceptable response. Sanctions represent only one facet of our foreign policy tools.
“Senators coming together to impose additional sanctions against Iran and Russia should work toward providing the Defense Department with the force structure and combat readiness necessary to restore deterrence against these aggressor states. Again, sanctions are only one foreign policy tool. We must also restore both our forward presence and our full spectrum warfighting capability as well. Doing so will send a message to those nations which wish us harm, and it will reassure our allies.
“And last, as it concerns our allies, later today the junior Senator from Kentucky will move to discharge a resolution of disapproval against American arms sales to Saudi Arabia. It’s important to note that our Sunni Arab allies are engaged in two important struggles. The first is against ISIL and the extremist ideology it espouses and the attacks it pursues. The second is against Iran’s efforts to expand its sphere of influence and revolution across the broader Middle East. In Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are fighting against the Iranian proxy Houthi forces. As we know, some have raised the issue of the Saudi conduct of that war — but blocking this arms sale will diminish Saudi capability to target with precision.
“The complete arms sales package to Saudi Arabia includes munitions, professional military education, training, air and missile defense systems and air force modernization. Part of the training provided to Saudi Arabia will be on subjects such as avoiding civilian casualty. More important, as the counter ISIL coalition continues to make gains in Mosul and Raqqa, Iranian-supported militias in Iraq are posturing to create a land bridge through Iraq and into Syria. This land bridge could ultimately extend to Lebanon and improve Iran’s support for Hezbollah. Now is not the time to undermine one of our critical allies in the Arab world by disapproving part of an arms sales package that will improve Saudi capabilities.”
Related Issues: Iran