By Mr. SANTORUM (for himself and Mr. CORNYN):
S. 2681. A bill to establish a program to support a transition to democracy in Iran; to the Committee on Foreign Relations.
Mr. SANTORUM. Mr. President, I rise today to offer remarks about a bill that Senator CORNYN of Texas and I have introduced, the Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2004. This legislation seeks to promote the transformation of the Islamic Republic of Iran to a democratic form of government.
Our bill expresses the sense of the Congress that it should be the policy of the United States to support regime change in Iran and that the U.S. government should promote the transition to a new democratic Iranian government. In addition, so as to help make this transition possible, our bill authorizes the President to provide up to $10 million in assistance to qualified foreign and domestic pro-democracy groups opposed to the non-democratic government of Iran. To maximize the efforts of these pro-democracy groups, our bill authorizes activities such as aid to pro-democracy radio and television broadcasting organizations as a way of directly reaching the people of Iran.
For many years now, the people of Iran have dramatically demonstrated their desire for greater social and political freedoms. Literally millions of Iranians have massed in the streets of the major cities, demanding the right to choose their form of government and their own leaders. Even public opinion polls conducted by the dictatorial regime show upwards of seventy percent of Iranians want democratic change. But Iran remains in the grip of a brutal tyranny that has silenced dissident voices by arbitrary arrests, closure of newspapers and magazines, destruction of satellite television dishes, widespread torture and the second-highest execution rate in the world.
Our bill seeks to help the Iranian people achieve freedom by supporting pro-democracy groups and enabling freedom-supporting Farsi language radio and television broadcasting stations to broadcast information directly to Iran.
The current leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran are not only brutal tyrants. Their support of anti-American elements and terrorist organizations poses a direct threat to the interests of the United States and our allies. For two decades, the Department of State has identified Iran as THE leading sponsor of international terrorism. Iran has been linked to the deaths of United States military personnel in Beirut, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. Iran has long provided financial and operational assistance to Hezbollah and is presently the leading state sponsor of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, who conduct lethal attacks against the citizens of Israel.
Finally, Iran may be engaged in a crash program to develop nuclear weapons. In October 2003, after strong and concerted pressure by the international community, Iran agreed to sign an agreement to suspend uranium enrichment and open its nuclear facilities to more intrusive international inspections. Despite this pledge, Iran has repeatedly withheld key information and documentation about its clandestine nuclear efforts. In February 2004, blueprints containing instructions for building a type of gas centrifuge known as the P2, a super-efficient machine used in producing enriched uranium, were discovered. The Iranians had not revealed these plans.
Additionally, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has found multiple traces of highly-enriched uranium, with no civilian use, at a Kalaye Electric Company workshop in Tehran and at the Natanz pilot fuel enrichment plant 150 miles south of the Iranian capital. To the best of my knowledge, Iran has not offered a satisfactory explanation as to the IAEA's discovery of this materiel.
Reports are that Iran has sought magnets for thousands of such gas centrifuges. Also, Iran has not been able to explain experiments with polonium-210, a radioactive element primarily useful as a bomb trigger. Finally, Iranian government officials have barred access to selected sites for a period of time while--as recent satellite imagery shows--they almost certainly sanitized them of incriminating evidence.
I believe it urgent for the United States to support regime change in Iran. Without regime change, Iran will soon constitute the world's leading supporter of terrorism armed with nuclear weapons. That would be a great catastrophe for the Middle East, and for the United States and our democratic allies everywhere. The bill I have introduced with Senator CORNYN will facilitate this change by reaching out to the people of Iran and supporting what President Bush and Secretary of State Powell have called the legitimate desire of the Iranian people to be free.