Late Thursday night, one day after the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, the U.S. Senate unanimously passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009 (S. 2799).
This bill follows closely on the heels of the the Iran Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 (H.R. 2194), overwhelmingly passed by the House of Representatives in December.
This bill enables State divestment efforts from Iran (such as the divestment already undertaken by our great state of Minnesota) and targets U.S. companies that provide refined petroleum to Iran or invest in Iran’s oil sector development. Given that Iran must import more than 40% of its gasoline and diesel needs, this is definitely hitting the regime where it hurts, and will probably serve to target the elites of the regime, who control the oil and gas sector, over the normal population.
Reports of Iranian “Peaceful” Nukes
This bill comes on the heels of recent reports in The Washington Times that Iran has rejected an international plan that called for shipping most of its low-enriched uranium abroad for further enrichment as part of an effort to prevent the building of a nuclear weapon, and also that U.S. intelligence agencies now suspect that Iran never halted work on its nuclear arms program in 2003.
In addition, the prominent German weekly Der Spiegel reported last week that it has “obtained new documents on secret tests and leadership structures that call into question Tehran’s claims to be exclusively interested in the peaceful use of [nuclear] technology.” Der Spiegel reports that “classified documents circulating in intelligence communities suggest that the program contains a secret military branch working toward developing a nuclear bomb. International intelligence experts believe that Iran’s Department of Expanded High-Technology Applications, or FEDAT, is working on “the construction of a nuclear warhead to be used in Iran’s Shahab missiles.” (You can also read a shorter summary of the Der Spiegel reporting in Slate.)
Making Sense of All the Bull
So let’s review.
Supposedly, Iran is not trying to make a nuclear bomb at all – it’s simply trying to give energy to its people (and who could ever suspect the Ayatollah – those paragons of caring government – of anything less than endlessly trying to improve the lives of their own people?) But the moment the international community offers to simply refine the uranium for Iran, and provide it, ready to use, for those power plants Iran is obviously building, Iran balks, partly because they are afraid that not all the uranium will be returned to them.
Really? They are worried that Russia and Germany will steal their uranium? Come on!
This sounds a whole lot like a kid who’s got his hand in the cookie jar, saying “don’t worry, I just want to look at the cookies! I won’t eat any!” and yet, incredibly, thrown a tantrum when mom and dad offer to hold the cookie jar for him, so that he can see better.
On top of that, Iran has been revealed to be keeping a secret nuclear facility in Qom, which was active for years before it was revealed (and we don’t know how many more such facilities there might be). Now, if their intentions are peaceful, and nothing but sweetness and light, then I ask you – why hide the facility???
Again, this is a little like discovering that your wife has been lying to you for months about “working late,” and has been going somewhere unknown all this time. Now, she might just be out with an old college girlfriend every time, but I ask you – how likely is that, and how many times would you buy that story?
Watch President Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy discuss the secret Iranian nuclear facility in Qom:
Facing the Reality of a Nuclear Iran
With all this mounting evidence of trouble, even for those who still believe that there is only a small chance of Iran actually trying to build a nuclear weapon (and all the evidence by now points to the contrary), we must face the possibility that Iran may try to do so, and realize that the results would be devastating, for the Middle East, and likely the rest of the world.
Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that a single nuclear bomb, or possibly 2, could lead to the almost complete annihilation of the entire population of Israel, causing a second Holocaust, with over 6,000,000 dead, in mere minutes, and render most of the country uninhabitable for millenia to come. Even if we believe that “humanitarian” Iran would not act on its many threats to annihilate Israel, and would not use its nuclear weapons at all (something I find a real stretch to believe), Iran’s possession of the bomb would drive the other powers in the Middle East to create, or simply buy, nuclear programs, as well. So we are talking about nuclear weapons in the hands of such stable powers as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Qatar.
Now what are the chances of just a little one of those bombs eventually making it into the hands of terrorist groups? Possibly ones interested in striking Europe, or the United States?
How hard would it be to smuggle some of that nuclear material into the US, to be assembled here? (We all know the cocaine gets through somehow…) And how easy would it be for Iran, under cover of their impenetrable nuclear protection, knowing that they can no longer be touched, let alone stopped, to flaunt their newfound power by supporting Hezbollah, shipping more and more powerful weapons to Hamas, and broadening the reach of terror groups worldwide? Who would dare oppose them? We can’t even stop poor, starving North Korea from testing missiles over Japan!
Kudos to Our Legislators
With all that, I think we here in Minnesota can be very proud of our Congressional delegation’s showing on this issue.
Senator Amy Klobuchar was one of the original co-sponsors of the original Senate bill that has changed into this bill (S. 908: Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act), and Senator Al Franken was one of the later co-sponsors of the original bill. Both of our senators supported the final bill, introduced by Senator Chris Dodd of Connecticut.
In addition, our very own 3rd district representative Congressman Erik Paulsen was one of the early co-sponsors of the House version of the bill, and helped lead the floor debate on the House bill in December. You can see videos of Congressman Paulsen’s opening and closing remarks on the sanctions bill below. (And they are definitely worth a listen — Congressman Paulsen lays all the issues right out there on the table.)
But this battle is not over yet.
Before the Senate bill can become law, it will go to conference, to be reconciled with the House bill, and the final bill will again have to pass both chambers of Congress.
So please, write or call and thank your senators (and house representatives) for supporting this bill, so they know where you stand on this important issue! You can contact Senator Klobuchar here, and Senator Franken here. If you live outside of Minnesota, you can send a letter thanking your senators for their support of this bill through AIPAC here. Just enter your zip code, and a simple form to E-mail your senators will come up.
Congressman Erik Paulsen’s Opening Remarks in the House Debate on Iran Sanctions Act:
Congressman Erik Paulsen’s Closing Remarks in the House Debate on Iran Sanctions Act: