Isolating Iran

January 31, 2006

The US State Department has been blocking a Congressional bill that aims to isolate Iran – like the Brit Foreign Office, State prefers words to deeds. Now words have abjectly failed, it’s time for Congress to pass the Iran Freedom Support Act, and I hope the President recommends that tonight.

… the Iran Freedom Support Act, has been languishing for more than a year in the House and about a year in the Senate. It is described as a comprehensive bill designed to end the tyranny of the mullahs and the international security threat they pose by supporting the Iranian people in their quest for freedom. Among its many provisions, the bill would toughen sanctions against the Iranian regime, would provide “financial and political” assistance to civil society organizations, and would help fund the broadcast of free television and radio into Iran – reminiscent of the strategy employed by America in bringing down the Iron Curtain.

The legislation would also make it America’s official Iran policy “to support efforts by the people of Iran to exercise self-determination over the form of government in their country,” and “to actively support a national referendum in Iran with oversight by the international observers and monitors to certify the integrity and fairness of the referendum.”

In addition to providing “financial and political assistance” to pro-democracy groups, the Freedom Act also officially recognizes that Iran is a “repressive” terrorist state, and stipulates: “Representatives of the Government of Iran should be denied access to all United States Government buildings.” The Freedom Act would create a new position, to be filled by presidential appointment, responsible for assisting the president by coordinating among federal agencies with oversight of Iran policy. The bill also calls for increased American scrutiny of interactions between Iran, Russia, China, Malaysia, Pakistan, and the nuclear-arms network of a Pakistani physicist, A.Q. Khan.

The House version…now has 333 cosponsors – almost 77% of the House. The Senate companion bill…has 42 bipartisan co-sponsors, or almost half the Senate.

Time for the president to kick State off the pot and get the bill passed.