JOHNSON STATEMENT ON IRAN SANCTIONS OVERSIGHT HEARING
June 4, 2013
WASHINGTON – Today, Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) held a hearing titled “Iran Sanctions: Ensuring Robust Enforcement and Assessing Next Steps.”
Below is Chairman Johnson’s statement as prepared for delivery:
“Good morning, I call this hearing to order, and I welcome my colleagues and our witnesses.
“Today’s hearing is part of our oversight efforts to ensure effective enforcement of the Iran sanctions regime overseen by this committee. We will assess what additional tools might enable the President to intensify the economic pressure on Iran’s leaders to make clear they must reverse course and satisfy the unified demands of the international community to abandon their illicit nuclear activities and support for terrorism. Two weeks ago, the Senate again made clear where we stood, voting 99-0 for a resolution expressing support for aggressive sanctions enforcement, and for Israel’s right to defend itself against threats from Iran.
“In addition to sanctions on Iran in place prior to 2010, in the last three years Congress adopted and the President signed into law an unprecedented four new sanctions measures. These measures, coupled with those imposed by the Administration, the European Union, and the UN Security Council, have had profound effects. They have slowed Iran’s nuclear and missile program by restricting its access to key technologies. They have crippled Iran’s economy, causing its currency to plummet and inflation to skyrocket. In the last year, its oil sales were cut roughly in half, and government revenues available for its enrichment programs were sharply reduced.
“Yet despite this progress the core strategic objective of our sanctions has not yet been realized: Iran’s leaders still refuse to abandon their illicit nuclear program and verifiably limit their nuclear activities to peaceful purposes. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that sophisticated new centrifuges being installed at Fordow and Natanz will substantially expand Iran’s enrichment capabilities. While the P5+1 talks have at least helped show the world Iran’s unwillingness to compromise, they have not yet generated results. Some have expressed hope the upcoming presidential elections in June might lead to change, but that seems unlikely, since the candidates are all handpicked supporters of Iran’s nuclear program.
“As Under Secretary Sherman stated recently, there is ultimately only one decision-maker on Iran’s nuclear program: the Supreme Leader. He has remained indifferent to the suffering of his own people, and to their demands for political, economic and social reform. It seems clear that his decision to continue Iran’s illicit nuclear activities will not be reversed without intensified economic pressure, coupled with heightened political and diplomatic efforts by the P5+1 group, including Russia and China.
“Today we are fortunate again to have Under Secretary of Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen; Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman; and Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security Eric Hirschhorn. In their testimony and the question period, I hope they will highlight what sanctions are working, what additional measures are needed that could garner the broad support of the international community and preserve the unity of our coalition – a unity the Administration has worked very hard to preserve – and what challenges we continue to face in successfully implementing a strategy that will finally compel Iran to abandon its illicit nuclear activities. I look forward to their testimony.”