May 17 2012

Senate Fails to Come to Agreement on Iran Sanctions Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) today made this statement after the Senate failed to come to agreement on a tough Iran sanctions bill.


“I am very disappointed we have been unable to get bipartisan agreement to move forward on the Iran sanctions bill.  The Senate Banking Committee reported an excellent bill to the Senate.  However, the manager’s amendment, which was added to the legislation this morning, contains language that if allowed to remain sends a mixed message to Iran.  It would create confusion to what has been clear American policy.


“The manager’s amendment currently states the bill is not a declaration of war or authorization of the use of force.  Let’s be clear, I do not think this bill is or should be construed as an authorization of the use of force.  But it must be clearly stated, as President Obama has done in the past, that our nation has options at our disposal which go beyond sanctions.


“Limiting ourselves to just sanctions will weaken our own national security. All we need to do to be able to move forward on this legislation is to add a few lines making clear that while the United States continues to strengthen sanctions on the Iranian regime we always reserve the right to use military force.  Or as President Obama has consistently stated when it comes to the Iranian nuclear program, ‘All options are on the table.’


“I don’t believe sanctions on Iran have worked but I am willing to allow more time.  But as President Obama recently said ‘time is running out.’ I have serious doubts that the threat of sanctions alone will ever truly change Iranian behavior.  I hope they do, but I think the only way we will stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear capability is to convince them we have the will and capacity to deliver a punishing military blow.


“Now is not the time for the United States to backtrack or send mixed signals to the Iranians or the world at large.  There is strong bipartisan support for the sanctions legislation and I believe equally strong support for the idea that all options are on the table.  Unfortunately, this bill talks only of sanctions as the appropriate means to stop the Iranian regime.


“Again, a few lines reinforcing that all options are on the table would end this discussion and be the most appropriate signal to send to the Iranians.  While I agree it is important to speak before the next round of negotiations in Baghdad, it is more important we speak clearly, forcefully, and completely about our nation’s determination to stop the Iranian regime’s drive to nuclear weapons capability.  I’m mystified why this cannot be accommodated quickly.”