Gutiérrez to Boehner & Pelosi: Convene House Classified Briefing Before Deliberating Further Iran Sanctions
Gutiérrez to Boehner & Pelosi: Convene House
Classified Briefing Before Deliberating
Further Iran Sanctions
“We are facing a crossroads as a nation, we are facing a crossroads as a Congress, and I want us to be as informed as possible.” Rep. Gutiérrez
Washington, DC – Today, Congressman Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-IL) spoke on the floor of the House of Representatives (at approximately 10:00 am ET, video link: https://youtu.be/429qdaNNvWA) to amplify his call on Speaker Boehner and Democratic Leader Pelosi to convene a classified briefing for the entire House on issues related to Iran nuclear arms. Rep. Gutiérrez, a member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke about the Joint Plan of Action with Iran and the debate regarding whether the Congress should pursue additional sanctions. The Congressman expressed his opinion, based on briefings he has received as a Member of the Intelligence Committee, that now is not the time to consider further sanctions. Rep. Gutiérrez is calling on the Speaker and the Democratic Leader to convene a classified briefing so that all Members can benefit from fuller information in evaluating proposals for additional sanctions. The Congressman requested the classified briefing in a letter to Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi last week. View the release and letter here: https://1.usa.gov/1kT5feo.
The following are the Congressman’s remarks from this morning, as prepared for delivery (video link: https://youtu.be/429qdaNNvWA):
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez – Five Minute Speech
February 5, 2014
There is no area of foreign policy that produces greater concern amongst American citizens than the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. Whether Democrat, Independent or Republican, there is remarkable unity across the ideological spectrum that we must do everything in our power to prevent that outcome.
We have heard the steady drumbeat over the years that Iran is moving closer and closer to the achieving nuclear capabilities.
We have seen the regime engage in dangerous provocations and offer support to Hezbollah and other militant groups that have threatened the stability of the region and caused significant concerns from our allies and friends.
The Obama Administration worked with our international partners to impose crippling sanctions on Iran. These sanctions covered Iran’s banking, energy, shipping, shipbuilding, insurance, broadcasting, and automotive sectors, and even gold and precious metals.
Now, after decades of tension between the United States and Iran and the escalating international pressure of sanctions and isolation, we have seen positive steps in relatively quick succession.
After the election of the Iranian President Hassan in 2013, I joined over 130 of my colleagues calling on President Obama to “utilize all diplomatic tools to reinvigorate ongoing nuclear talks,” including the potential that “bilateral and multilateral sanctions be calibrated in a way that they induce significant and verifiable concessions.”
Those diplomatic overtures, coupled with the debilitating sanctions on Iran’s energy and banking sectors, yielded the historic phone call between President Obama and President Rouhani, the first direct contact between leaders of our two nations in 34 years, and ultimately, the signing of the Joint Plan of Action – representing real progress towards a nuclear agreement.
There remain ample reasons to question the prospects of a long term agreement with Iran. We heard the President one week ago in this very room speak of the challenges for negotiators, cautioning, “They may not succeed. We are clear-eyed about Iran’s support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which threaten our allies; and the mistrust between our nations cannot be wished away.”
Now, Members of Congress in both chambers are discussing legislation for new and expanded sanctions. Our constituents, deeply concerned with the Middle East and strongly in favor of peace, are asking us what we think, how we would vote, and what we should do as a Congress and as a nation.
I have had the honor of serving on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and as a Member, have regular access to the classified assessments of the professionals in our intelligence community who provide a much fuller and clearer picture of the situation in Iran.
I cannot tell you what that information is here -- or anywhere else -- because it is appropriately classified.
But based on the classified briefings I’ve received on the situation in Iran and the Joint Plan of Action, I am very reluctant to support any additional sanctions at this time.
And, Mr. Speaker, given the importance of this issue to all Members and the stakes involved in preventing a nuclear-armed Iran, I think many of my colleagues would be in a much better position to evaluate the options before us if they also had access to the type of classified briefing from which I regularly benefit.
That is why I wrote a letter to Speaker of the House John Boehner and Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi last week asking them to convene a classified briefing for Members of the House of Representatives.
All of us could have access to classified materials or request a briefing if we wanted one on a case by case basis, but the point is that we are facing a crossroads as a nation, we are facing a crossroads as a Congress, and I want us to be as informed as possible.
I understand the mistrust between the United States and Iran and the desire of some in this body to seek additional sanctions, even as we are implementing the terms of the Six Month Agreement.
We need clear-eyed, apolitical, informed decision-making so that we can make the best possible choices on behalf of our constituents and our nation.
I believe my colleagues would find great value in the classified briefing and come away with greater confidence in the work of the Administration and our international partners.
I have been convinced that now is not the time to consider additional sanctions, but I want my colleagues to make up their own minds and to do so with as much information as possible, so I renew my request, Mr. Speaker, for classified briefings as soon as they can be arranged.
I have every confidence that if talks falter or we have evidence that Iran is not abiding by the terms of the Joint Plan of Action, the Congress will not hesitate to take appropriate actions, including imposing new sanctions on Iran. But with Iran at the negotiating table, taking steps to halt enrichment and submit to enhanced inspections and monitoring, it is worth giving diplomacy the chance to succeed.
I yield back.
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