Senator Menendez Statement on Casey-Graham-Lieberman
As prepared for Delivery
Press Conference - February 15, 2012
I want to thank Senators Casey, Lieberman and Graham for their leadership on this important resolution.
At this moment, Iran is the greatest threat; the great challenge to peace and security in the world. The Iranian leadership, lead by the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and President Ahmadinejad have made clear that their nuclear program will not be easily deterred.
In response, today we re-affirmthat it is in the national interest of the United States to prevent the government of the Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability and that we will continue to increase economic and diplomatic pressure until we achieve an agreement from Iran that includes the full and sustained suspension of all uranium enrichment-related and reprocessing activities, and complete cooperation with the IAEA.
For this reason, members of this body in December voted unanimously to impose critical sanctions on international financial institutions that do business with the Central Bank of Iran. Those sanctions, which led to similar EU sanctions on the CBI and an EU oil embargo have had an unprecedented impact on Iran, causing a precipitous drop in the Iranian rial and have chilled investment in Iran and purchases of petroleum from Iran.
Our message today to Khamenei and Ahmadinejad and those nations that choose to align themselves with mullahs in Tehran rather than with multinational coalition of nations that recognizes the unquestioned military intent of Iran's nuclear program, is that this is only the beginning. We will not pull our punches and we will not be intimidated into inaction.
On February 2, the Senate Banking Committee moved forward with more sanctions, approving the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act, to further tighten the noose - imposing sanctions on Iranian joint energy ventures and uranium mining ventures, taking steps to sanction the National Iranian Oil Company and Tanker Company - closing any workarounds that Iran might devise to avoid the CBI sanctions, and to press for the removal of designated Iranian banks and the CBI from the SWIFT system.