Press Release

Senator Gillibrand’s Opening Statement For Hearing On Iranian Political And Nuclear Relations And U.S. Policy Options

Mar 3, 2009


New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, released the following opening statement for this morning’s hearing
on Iranian Political and Nuclear Relations and U.S. Policy Options:

“Thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this critical hearing. I want to
also recognize our distinguished panelists for joining us today to share their
expertise and recommendations and look forward to hearing their testimony.

“Iran’s stated interest in nuclear technology is one of the most serious national
security challenges facing the United States and the entire international
community .Over the past eight years, we have seen the growth in Iran’s power
and influence in the region, threatening our nation’s interests in the Middle
East. Iran is a chief supporter of terrorist group like Hezbollah and
Hamas, supplying them with both weapons and financial assistance to carry out
their attacks.

“As we heard from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Admiral Michael Mullen, who
I had the honor to meet with last week, Iran now has enough uranium that if
further purified, could be used to build an atomic bomb – a process that could
be completed in just months. This alarming news is compounded by the fact
that Iran’s government is isolated and its economy vulnerable – making them
even more dangerous and unpredictable.

“Iran’s nuclear quest is an existential threat to our ally Israel, the Middle
East as a whole, and to world stability.

“To address this growing concern, the United States has begun a process of
engagement with Iran.  There is good reason to believe that there are
elements in Iran who recognize that it is in Iran’s best interest to engage.
Effective engagement now is essential.

“Additionally, while offering positive incentives to Iran, the United States
must continue to strengthen international pressure to make it clear to Iran
that its failure to work with the international community will have significant
repercussions. We must continue to work with Russia and China by using
diplomatic solutions to influence Iran favorably.

“These additional measures should include targeted sanctions on the
Revolutionary Guard, which this body urged the Secretary of State to include on
the list of recognized terrorist groups; a measure I supported.

“We should also seek increased limitations on Iran’s importation of refined
petroleum products.  Despite being a major oil producer, Iran imports
close to half its gasoline.  I support the efforts of our colleagues in
the House who recently sent a letter to Secretary of Energy Chu requesting that
he reevaluate a recent federal contract awarded to the Swiss firm that is
Iran’s leading supplier of gasoline.

“Again, thank you Mr. Chairman for holding this important hearing and I look
forward to receiving the testimony of our distinguished panelists.”

at today’s hearing included the Honorable Frank G. Wisner II, Former U.S.
Ambassador to Zambia, Egypt, Philippines, and India, the Honorable Richard N.
Haass, President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Mark Fitzpatrick, Senior
Fellow for the Non-Proliferation International Institute for Strategic Studies,
and Karim Sadjadpour, Associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International