05.05.10

Iran At The United Nations

U.S. Senate Floor Statement

Mr. LEAHY.  Mr. President, I read with interest, and disgust, the press reports about the comments of Iranian President Ahmadinejad at the United Nations on Monday, when he attempted to defend Iran’s secret nuclear program and his government’s continuing defiance of the Security Council. 

I could not help but contrast his words with the efforts so many other countries have been making to prevent a nuclear weapon from ending up in the hands of a terrorist, or a nuclear arms race from taking off in the Middle East or South Asia.  

In the past couple of weeks, the United States and Russia -- two former enemies that once came to the brink of a nuclear war and since the 1980s have slashed their nuclear arsenals -- agreed to make further reductions, and President Obama has said he wants to negotiate deeper cuts in furtherance of his long-term vision of a world without nuclear weapons.

On Monday, the Pentagon disclosed publicly the number of weapons that remain in our arsenal, which would have been unthinkable a few years ago.  

There are serious efforts being made to establish nuclear weapons-free zones in South America, Africa, and the Middle East. 

And at the United Nations, even countries like Russia and China, which have traditionally sided with Iran, have all but lost patience with what Secretary Clinton rightly called Iran’s “history of making confusing, contradictory and inaccurate statements.” 

Nobody questions Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.  But the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is, as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has said, more important today than ever.  Terrorists like the Times Square bomber could cause death and destruction on a scale we have not seen since World War II.  Nuclear weapons in the hands of terrorists would have consequences for life as we know it that are almost unfathomable.  And Iran has long been a state sponsor of terrorism. 

President Ahmadinejad insists there is no proof that Iran is building a nuclear weapon, at the same time that he refuses to permit the kind of international inspections that could establish whether Iran’s nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes.  After Iran was offered the option of sending its enriched uranium to Russia and France for refinement into fuel rods for its research reactor, he responded by stalling with one contradictory counter-offer after another, all the while continuing to enrich increasing amounts of uranium to the point when Iran now is believed to have enough to build two nuclear bombs.  

Mr. President, I want to commend Secretary of State Clinton for her measured, strong statements at the United Nations about Iran’s duplicitous, dangerous flaunting of the international nuclear control regime.  It does not appear that anything short of sweeping, multilateral sanctions has a chance of convincing Iran’s leaders to change their reckless course. 

It is tragic that Iran, a country of such talented, sophisticated people – many of whom risked their lives to protest a blatantly fraudulent election and who want peaceful relations with the United States – currently has a President who is squandering Iran’s resources and reputation in pursuit of a narcissistic, foolhardy quest for a nuclear bomb that will only increase his country’s isolation and intensify Iran’s confrontational relationship with its neighbors and the international community.  The potential consequences could not be more frightening for ordinary people everywhere, including the people of Iran, and the Security Council should delay no further in imposing the strongest possible sanctions.

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