Rep. Ron Paul's Speech Against Iran Sanctions

Statement of Congressman Ron Paul
United States House of Representatives
Statement Opposing the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act
December 15, 2009

I rise in strongest opposition to this new round of sanctions on Iran, which is another significant step toward a US war on that country. I find it shocking that legislation this serious and consequential is brought up in such a cavalier manner. Suspending the normal rules of the House to pass legislation is a process generally reserved for "non-controversial" business such as the naming of post offices. Are we to believe that this House takes matters of war and peace as lightly as naming post offices?

This legislation seeks to bar from doing business in the United States any foreign entity that sells refined petroleum to Iran or otherwise enhances Iran's ability to import refined petroleum such as financing, brokering, underwriting, or providing ships for such. Such sanctions also apply to any entity that provides goods or services that enhance Iran's ability to maintain or expand its domestic production of refined petroleum. This casts the sanctions net worldwide, with enormous international economic implications.

Recently, the Financial Times reported that, "[i]n recent months, Chinese companies have greatly expanded their presence in Iran's oil sector. In the coming months, Sinopec, the state-owned Chinese oil company, is scheduled to complete the expansion of the Tabriz and Shazand refineries -- adding 3.3 million gallons of gasoline per day."

Are we to conclude, with this in mind, that China or its major state-owned corporations will be forbidden by this legislation from doing business with the United States? What of our other trading partners who currently do business in Iran's petroleum sector or insure those who do so? Has anyone seen an estimate of how this sanctions act will affect the US economy if it is actually enforced?

As we have learned with US sanctions on Iraq, and indeed with US sanctions on Cuba and elsewhere, it is citizens rather than governments who suffer most. The purpose of these sanctions is to change the regime in Iran, but past practice has demonstrated time and again that sanctions only strengthen regimes they target and marginalize any opposition. As would be the case were we in the US targeted for regime change by a foreign government, people in Iran will tend to put aside political and other differences to oppose that threatening external force. Thus this legislation will likely serve to strengthen the popularity of the current Iranian government. Any opposition continuing to function in Iran would be seen as operating in concert with the foreign entity seeking to overthrow the regime.

This legislation seeks to bring Iran in line with international demands regarding its nuclear materials enrichment programs, but what is ironic is that Section 2 of HR 2194 itself violates the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to which both the United States and Iran are signatories. This section states that "[i]t shall be the policy of the United States... to prevent Iran from achieving the capability to make nuclear weapons, including by supporting international diplomatic efforts to halt Iran's uranium enrichment program." Article V of the NPT states clearly that, "[n]othing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with articles I and II of this Treaty." As Iran has never been found in violation of the NPT -- has never been found to have diverted nuclear materials for non-peaceful purposes -- this legislation seeking to deny Iran the right to enrichment even for peaceful purposes itself violates the NPT.

Mr. Speaker, I am concerned that many of my colleagues opposing war on Iran will vote in favor of this legislation, seeing it as a step short of war to bring Iran into line with US demands. I would remind them that sanctions and the blockades that are required to enforce them are themselves acts of war according to international law. I urge my colleagues to reject this saber-rattling but ultimately counterproductive legislation.

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The Mothers of Laleh Park

Taking a page from the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo in Argentina, Iranian mothers whose children were killed during the post-election violence earlier this year in Iran have been marching every Saturday in Tehran's Laleh Park. This weekend the Iranian regime moved against them arresting twenty of the mothers. From the New York Times:

Ahead of a planned opposition rally on Monday, Iran tightened security and arrested over 20 mothers who were mourning children killed in the unrest that has broken out since the disputed June 12 elections.

The mothers took part in an antigovernment protest in Leleh Park in central Tehran every Saturday since the death in June of Neda Agha-Soltan, 26, whose shooting became a symbol of the government's violent repression. The rally had been attacked by the police before, but Saturday was the first time the mothers were arrested.

An opposition Web site reported that the protest was broken up by the police and many demonstrators were taken away. The BBC Persian service quoted a witness who said 29 women were arrested, some of whom were later released. But at least 21 remained in jail, the BBC said.

Ms. Agha-Soltan's mother regularly attended the rally, but it was not clear whether she was there on Saturday or was among those arrested.

The arrests appear to be part of the government's increasing efforts to suppress a large rally planned for Monday on National Student Day.

The authorities have ordered foreign news media not to cover the event and Internet service was reduced to a trickle on Saturday, so slow that it was impossible to "open e-mails or any Web pages," a journalist in Tehran said.

The measure appeared to be aimed at preventing information about the crackdown or the protest to get outside the country and also to deprive the opposition from its key means, the Internet and Facebook, to mobilize their supporters. Videos posted online have played a critical role in showing the world what has been happening inside Iran.

The government has also arrested dozens of student leaders in Tehran and across the country in the past weeks. However, students continued to say they would hold demonstrations at universities around the country on Monday. In Tehran, the nightly rooftop chants of "Allahu akbar," meaning "God is great," an opposition ritual since June, were louder than usual Sunday night.

"The chants rocked Tehran," said the journalist, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, out of fear for his safety. "People will also go out tomorrow but only to stop the traffic. It won't be as large as previous protests."

Previously on November 28th, the Iranian regime used tear gas to disperse crowds who gathered to support the mothers marching. To attack and incarcerate grieving mothers demonstrates not just the sheer barbarity of the Iranian regime, but it underscores the fear of the mullah that their regime, absent such repression, is a house of cards.

Below is a short video from the Mothers of Laleh Park marching peacefully on October 11, 2009.

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How Do China and Russia Think of Iran?

The United States media often - and for good reason - portrays China and Russia as reluctant to implement sanctions on Iran. Rarely (too rarely), however, does it attempt to view the issue through a Chinese or Russian lens. Americans nearly never try to understand the complex motivations behind Chinese and Russian lukewarmness.

I will attempt to do that now. How do China and Russia think of Iran?

Probably in the same way we think of Honduras. The lukewarm American opposition to the coup strikingly parallels China and Russia's stances on Iran.

If forced to state a position, most American officials probably would consider Micheletti in the wrong. By ousting Zelaya in his pajamas, Honduras revived a terrible tradition. Central America has a long history of destabilizing coups; they do terrible damage to a nation's future prospects. While Zelaya's actions may have been wrong, the army's action was unquestionably unconstitutional.

But that's exactly it. Zelaya wasn't exactly an innocent victim in all this. As conservatives have pointed out again and again, the situation isn't so clear-cut. The president, a widely unpopular figure, was pushing a poll of uncertain constitutionality. He attempted to align Honduras with Hugo Chavez's anti-American alliance and was entertaining a (constitutionally forbidden) term extension.

Thus, the United States has been decidedly lukewarm in its criticism of the coup - analogous to Chinese and Russian moderation regarding Iran. Honduras has mounted a lobbying campaign in Congress; it appears to be yielding fruit. Several Republican congressmen visited Honduras; the administration"is not talking about imposing new sanctions for now."

The truth is, if the United States fully committed itself against the government - if it suddenly suspended all foreign aid and threatened military action - it would fall in a matter of days. It doesn't however, because it's rightly sympathetic to Micheletti, just as China and Russia are sympathetic to Iran.

So the next time you bemoan Chinese or Russian foot-dragging on Iran, consider American foot-dragging in Honduras. The United States has legitimate arguments against taking too militant a stance in Honduras. China and Russia may have reasonable concerns, too.

After all, they were right regarding Iraq.

-- Inoljt, http://mypolitikal.com/

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Iran defies the West on its Nuke Program

So after pretending it was gonna actually engage with our Engagement President on its nuclear program, Iran has signaled it will not negotiate its pursuit of enriched uranium, nor will it accept the UN deal to swap its nuclear material for already enriched rods.

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Even Russia is now ready to support sanctions on Iran's nuke program

Russia, formerly the head of the USSR, or the Evil Empire if you will, always used to side with the wrong side of history and morality in the world. But now, even Russia is ready to join others in voting for sanctions against Iran's obvious nuclear weapons program.

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