Congressman Paulsen Decries Past Hesitancy on Iran and Expresses Hope for Sanctions To Have Impact

Today, TC Jewfolk sat down with United States Representative Erik Paulsen, Republican from the 3rd District of Minnesota, to talk about the dangers of a nuclear Iran, the potential impact of sanctions, and bipartisan support for action on this issue.*  [Watch the video interview below]
Representative Paulsen expressed hope about Congress and the administration’s current bipartisan efforts to crack down on a potential nuclear Iran, but also concern that it had taken so long for those parties to take action.  Iran’s rise, tension, tyranny and instability in the region were now things that the “whole world is paying more attention to,” he said.  He just wished that “we would have paid more attention to that two or three years ago.”
He criticized what he described as a past “hesitancy” by the administration to take action on the Iran issue, but said that the sanctions now are a first step towards “containing Iran as much as possible,” and that he hoped that sanctions would be enough, but that they didn’t know yet.  “I think we have to push hard to make sure that the sanctions absolutely have the teeth in them that we want them to have.”  He also emphasized the importance in pushing for increased inspections inside Iran to determine whether or not nuclear weapons were being developed because he was not “convinced the inspections are being allowed to happen where they probably need to happen.”
Rep. Paulsen’s concerns echoed those of the International Atomic Energy Agency chief Yukiya Amano who today said that he had “serious concerns” as to whether may be hiding secret atomic weapons, concerns based in large part on Tehran’s resistance to two recent attempts to probe the weapons program in Iran.
Rep. Paulsen insisted that the sanctions are providing the Iranian people with an opportunity to stand up to their own government, as they tried in the election drama just a few years ago.  “I think [the sanctions are] having an impact internally. You read stories about how inflation is an issue in Iran, and hopefully this is an opportunity for the Iranian people to express their reservations with their own government the way they did a few years ago when that fraudulent election process took place, and not be frustrated with the outside world but against their own government that is not leading them on a path to future peace and prosperity.”
But the balance, as Rep. Paulsen saw it, was how much to trust the intelligence coming out of Iran, and when to take action.  Not an easy decision. He explained, “This is a situation where I think that Congress and the President in particular are going to have to decide how they trust their national security advice and intelligence. Is the intelligence up to date? Is it strong? Is it reliable?Because there have been issues in the past, whether it was in Iraq or other areas where the intelligence information didn’t meet up with the standards that everyone thought it was going to meet up with.”
Tactical decision-making aside, for Rep. Paulsen, there was no doubt. “A nuclear armed Iran is a real problem not just in the Mid East but for the world.”

Watch TC Jewfolk’s Interview with Congressman Paulsen Here:


[*Eds. Note: This article is Part I of our Interview with Congressman Paulsen. Part II is available here, and focuses on Paulsen’s views on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and why Minnesotans should support Israel.]