WASHINGTON, DC - House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (MD) released the following statement today in favor of H.R. 282, the Iran Freedom Support Act, which passed the House today by a vote of 397 to 21:
"I strongly support this bipartisan legislation - the Iran Freedom Support Act - which is a measured, appropriate and necessary response by this body to the continued belligerence and threatening actions of the Iranian regime. Let none of us be mistaken: Iran, today, poses a grave and growing danger to international security and stability. And, this danger must not be ignored.
"Just yesterday, Iran's supreme religious leader, in a meeting with the president of Sudan, reportedly said that Iran was ready to share its nuclear technology with other countries. This was the latest in a series of outrageous and dangerous comments and actions undertaken by the government in Tehran. For example, the Iranian president recently has stated his hope for 'a world without America' and his desire to 'wipe Israel off the map.'
"Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. It supports Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad. It harbors al-Qaeda operatives. And, it has maintained a hostile stance toward the United States and our national interests ever since Iranian radicals seized the American embassy in 1979. Furthermore, there is little question today that Iran has engaged in a deliberate campaign of lies and deceit to conceal its quest for nuclear weapons. As the French foreign minister stated earlier this year: 'No civilian nuclear program can explain the Iranian nuclear program. It is a clandestine nuclear program.'
"In 2002, it was revealed that Iran was continuing to develop a nuclear program at two secret nuclear facilities - in direct violation of its international obligations. Last August, the Iranian government resumed its conversion of uranium, a development that led to a 27-to-3 vote in February by the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the U.N. Security Council. And, on March 29, the Security Council gave Iran 30 days - or until this Friday - to stop its nuclear activities. Unfortunately, the Iranian regime seems intent on following a path of confrontation rather than cooperation.
"And that is why I urge the members of this body to support this legislation, which, among other measures, would require the President to impose any two of six specified sanctions against any foreign company or entity investing $20 million or more in the development of Iran's oil or gas industry - so long as Iran refuses to dismantle its chemical, biological or nuclear weapons program.
"This bill also would authorize financial and political assistance to human rights dissidents and pro-democracy advocates in Iran. And, it expresses the sense of Congress that the President should instruct our U.N. representative to work to secure a Security Council resolution calling for sanctions on Iran for its repeated and flagrant breaches of its nuclear nonproliferation obligations.
"The members of this body are properly focused on our nation's continuing efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. However, we cannot afford to dismiss or ignore the grave danger looming in Iran. Let me emphasize, I believe that the international community has a collective obligation to exert its will on lawbreakers, such as Iran. This is not the duty alone of the United States or any other single state. The measure before us is warranted, appropriate and necessary. And I urge the members to support it."