Oct 13 2011

Shelby: We Cannot Afford to Be One Step Behind Iran

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, ranking Republican on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, today made the following statement at a Committee hearing on examining economic sanctions on Iran.


Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs

October 13, 2011

 “Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

“Two days ago, the Department of Justice disclosed that Iran has been plotting to carry out an assassination and embassy bombing against Saudi Arabian and Israeli targets on American soil.  This plot, which is the latest in a long series of violent actions attempted by Iran around the globe, underscores Iran’s role as the leading state sponsor of terrorism.  It is against this backdrop that the Committee will examine the global impact of the Iran sanctions regime and evaluate the effectiveness of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act, enacted by Congress last July.

“Despite 30 years of progressively more stringent economic sanctions, Iran remains one of the more serious threats to the national security of the U.S. and our allies.  Iran continues to support authoritarian regimes, terrorist organizations and radical militias in Iraq and Afghanistan.  For allies such as Israel, this week’s revelation shows why Iran’s threat to its very existence is real, continues unabated, and cannot be ignored. 

“More than one year has passed since Congress, the UN, and many of our allies levied the most recent round of sanctions against Iran in an attempt to derail Iran’s efforts to obtain nuclear weapons.  Unfortunately, the heightened sanctions have not yet produced any significant change in Iran’s behavior regarding its nuclear program, international terror, or its record on human rights.  

“One problem is that the White House and the State Department have carefully managed to avoid labeling any major Russian, Chinese, or other US-trading partner’s companies as violators of US-mandated sanctions.  China, Russia, and others are expanding trade with Iran, continuing to provide it with banking assistance and investing in its energy sector.  Additionally, China and Russia have further undermined U.S. sanctions by supporting Iran’s military programs.  For sanctions against Iran to be as effective as possible, the Administration needs to do a better job at securing the cooperation of the global community.

“Another growing problem is the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps which has developed a global financial and terror network. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard is not just an elite military unit within Iran.  As we have seen this week, it can operate even here in the United States.  It has hundreds of companies, front companies and affiliates spread throughout Iran and the world to facilitate general trade and its oil exports.  It can finance operations anywhere in the world while adding to the coffers of the Iranian treasury.  Accordingly, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard has become the primary means by which Iran can avoid the global sanctions regime.

“The question now is what else can be done to further enhance the effectiveness of the Iran sanctions regime, especially with regard to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard and its nuclear aspirations.  Although sanctions have helped to limit Iran’s military capabilities, the events of this week demonstrate that Iran remains determined to find new avenues to carry out acts of terrorism.  Moreover, because Iran continues its efforts to develop nuclear weapons, failure to effectively enforce sanctions against Iran could have catastrophic results in just a few years.  We cannot afford to be one step behind Iran.

“Thank you Mr. Chairman.”