Presidential Candidates, Officials, Condemn Iran Amassing Missiles, Nukes
Presidential candidates and officeholders of both parties roundly condemned as a serious threat moves by Iran to deploy advanced missiles and to produce nuclear materials, in statements from the solons presented at a press conference organized by the Israel Project.
Their comments came as the United States is condemning Iran for obstinately refusing to halt its nuclear materials production program, while at the same time Washington is pressing a plan to build a ground-based midcourse ballistic missile defense shield in Europe to defeat any missiles launched from Iran or other Middle Eastern nations.
Iran also has launched a series of test missiles, including a missile launched from a submerged submarine.
Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, assailed “the security threat posed by Iran,” both to U.S. allies and American interests in the region and beyond, and said the United States must not tolerate the rise of a nuclear-armed Iran.
She noted that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has denied the Holocaust “and has issued bellicose statements calling for Israel to be wiped off the map.”
That is chilling, given “the regime’s quest to acquire nuclear weapons,” Clinton said.
Further, she asserted, Iran “also uses its influence and resources in the region to support terrorist elements that attack Israel.”
For example, she said that when Hezbollah terrorists fired thousands of rockets and missiles into populated areas of Israel last year, the attack was executed “using Iranian weapons,” a fact that “clearly demonstrates Iran’s malevolent influence even beyond its borders.” Some military analysts say Iran may soon have missiles able to strike Europe.
“U.S. policy must be clear, unequivocal and effective,” Clinton continued. “We cannot permit Iran to build or acquire nuclear weapons. We also must not let go unanswered its state sponsorship of terrorism.”
Further, she said, “we must not tolerate threats to the existence of Israel.”
Clinton said she strongly favors “meaningful, tough economic sanctions on the Iran regime.”
Sen. Barak Obama (D-Ill.), a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, as well as the Foreign Relations Committee, also condemned Iran.
“Allowing Iran, a radical theocracy that supports terrorism and openly threatens its neighbors, to acquire nuclear weapons is a risk we cannot take,” Obama said.
“All nations need to understand that, while Iran’s most explicit and intolerable threats are aimed at Israel, its conduct threatens all of us.”
He urged squeezing Iran with both diplomatic and economic punishment.
Aside from the federal government, he also praised states moving to have their pension funds dump stocks in corporations “that support Iran’s oil and gas industry.”
Former Sen. John Edwards (D-S.C.) holds that “it is of the utmost importance that we prevent Iran from possessing nuclear weapons.”
He termed Ahmadinejad “a politically unstable leader and an open supporter of terrorist groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas.”
If Iran develops nuclear weapons, Edwards warned, that “would set off a regional nuclear arms race in one of the unstable regions in the world, which directly threaten U.S. interests.”
Edwards proposed a six-point strategy of countering Iranian nuclear ambitions, including a search for international support, negotiations, using sanctions and incentives, and more.
However, Edwards’s stance doesn’t include possible military action against Iran, or the use of ballistic missile defense against Iranian weapons.
Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) said he is “concerned at the prospect of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons,” saying that “nuclear proliferation is a grave concern to international stability, and in the hands of the sponsors of terrorism it is entirely unacceptable.”
Biden didn’t spell out just how he would counter the Iranian threat.
Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), another member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, stated that “Iran must not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons.”
Bayh noted that “Iran’s president is a zealot who has denied the Holocaust ever happened, publicly called for Israel’s destruction and fantasized about a world without America.”
As well, Iran is helping to kill U.S. military personnel, because Teheran “is directly implicated in some of the most lethal attacks on American soldiers.”
Bayh warned that a crisis point is approaching, “a point of no return,” where “the international community must decide whether it is willing to allow nuclear weapons to fall into the hands of the world’s most active state sponsor of terrorism and the worst enabler of violent extremist groups.”
Further, Bayh said, there is coming a point where it will be impossible to defang the Iranian nuclear threat. “Once Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, there will be no going back,” according to Bayh.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (D-Conn.) noted that while Iran says its nuclear materials production program is intended for peaceful electrical power generation, it is true that Teheran also “refuses to submit the program to international oversight and has continually defied international will and U.N. resolutions calling for a suspension of its activities.”
Iran as well is a state sponsor of terrorism, and has called repeatedly for the destruction of Israel, Dodd noted. Therefore, “there is no denying that the Iranian regime poses a grave threat to the entire international community, including Israel and the United States.”
Dodd called for enforcement of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions, including one calling for disarmament of the Hezbollah terrorist group.
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Republican presidential hopeful, said he must “condemn Iran’s irrational call for the destruction of Israel and [the Iranian] defiance of the international community by its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and other hostile actions.”
At this point, Iran already “poses an unacceptable threat to Israel, to the entire [Middle East] region, to the United States, and to all peace-loving peoples through the world,” Huckabee asserted.
Iran should cease producing nuclear materials and submit to International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, recognize the right of Israel to exist, and cease supporting terrorist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad, according to Huckabee.
Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, another Republican White House hopeful, said diplomacy and economic sanctions must be brought to bear against Iran, and assistance in pressuring Iran must be sought among other Middle Eastern states.
However, that said, it also is critical that for the United States, “the military option must remain on the table.”
Specifically, Iranian leaders must know “that if nuclear material from their nation falls into the hands of terrorists and is used, it would provoke a devastating response from the civilized world.”
During an Israel Project media briefing in the Capitol building, the group showed some of the 1,000 boxes containing petitions calling for Iran to halt its nuclear materials development program and its support of terrorism.
There are, the group noted, 75,000 signatures on each copy of the petition, with those copies going to 183 heads of state, ambassadors in the United Nations, members of the House and Senate, and businesses active in Iran.
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) termed the Iranian nuclear program “the greatest threat to Israel’s national security.”
Rep. Jon C. Porter (R-Nev.) labelled the Iranian actions “the greatest threat to world security,” and predicted if Iran gets the bomb it will demolish nuclear nonproliferation efforts.
Porter said the leadership of Iran is willing to engage in irrational acts, such as using a nuclear weapon against Israel, or if the Iranian regime is about to be overthrown, deciding “to go out with a bang” by attacking the United States and thereby eliciting a thunderous nuclear retaliation that would demolish the Middle Eastern nation.
Sherman and Kirk assailed the World Bank for providing financial assistance to Iran.
Kirk said ballistic missile defense (BMD) against Iranian weapons would make sense, and BMD should be expanded from protecting Europe to shielding Israel, too. He argued that a longer-range BMD system would make more sense, intercepting Iranian missiles outside the atmosphere instead of near a target where the innocent might be harmed.
Sherman took a different view. He said installing a BMD system in Europe would anger Russia, and the United States needs to persuade Russia to support a ban on refined petroleum products being shipped to Iran, a ban that would bring Iran to terms.
However, Sherman said it is clear that there is no time to waste here, because Iran may have lethal capabilities in four to five years.