Latest News 16-03-2024 12:33 17 Views

We must hold Iran accountable for backing terrorism. Here’s how

In his State of the Union address, President Joe Biden made the case why the United States must continue to take steps to contain Iranian aggression. His words come at a pivotal time for our national security: In late January, Iranian-backed militants killed three American service members and injured dozens more in an attack in Jordan.  

As Iran and its partners continue to test American strength and resolve, we must stand up to their aggression in a way that protects our interests, combats terrorism and prevents further escalation in the Middle East. To face this rising danger, it is absolutely essential that we strengthen our sanctions on Iran and continue to be willing to use military force. 

Iran’s dangerous reach extends throughout the Middle East. Its proxy, Hezbollah, looms large on Israel’s northern border, while Iranian-supported militias in Syria and Iraq have launched more than 170 attacks on U.S. military forces and our allies during the past few months.  

Iran supplies and directly assists the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who have used Iranian missiles to strike American military personnel and international ships in the Red Sea region. Backed to the hilt by Iran, the Houthi regime governs regions of Yemen with oppressive barbarism, including recently sentencing more than a dozen people to death on account of their sexual orientation.  

Iran also has strong ties to Hamas, whose horrific terrorist attack on October 7 killed more than 1,200 Israelis. All the while, Iran has continued to develop its nuclear program, and has sent hundreds of ballistic missiles for Russia to use against Ukraine. While we should be strategic and targeted in our response, there should be no moral equivocation about what is the Iranian regime’s unbridled support of the most violent, brutal and oppressive actors on the world stage. 

The Biden administration has rightfully hit back against Iranian-backed militias and Houthi rebels, using military force in a measured and targeted manner when Americans are attacked. These retaliatory strikes, deployed strategically, are an important means of defending our interests and protecting American ships and personnel. 

So is the work that we continue to do with our allies to intercept strikes from the Houthis and others. By refusing to let these attacks go unanswered, we demonstrate that our country will stand strong against terror and aggression – and deter Iran from actions that could lead to a wider war. 

In addition to the use of force, we can also target and restrain the Iranian regime through robust sanctions enforcement. This requires that we do more to enforce sanctions that deprive Iran of the billions of dollars in oil revenue, revenue that they use to fund their terrorist network.  

In particular, we need to use more and better tools to track ships that evade sanctions by carrying Iranian oil and to ensure that our partners in the region have quick access to this critical information. Bipartisan legislation that I introduced would help us address this challenge by making it easier to track ships carrying Iranian oil, as well as to share more information with our regional partners so that they can swiftly seize and impound Iranian oil held on ships in their ports.  

I have also introduced a bipartisan bill that would impose sanctions on the bad actors who try to subvert our enforcement efforts by illicitly purchasing oil from Iran, helping generate revenues for the regime which then uses them to fund its terrorist proxies. 

If members of both parties in Congress are serious about standing up to Iran, then they should take up and pass both bills to strengthen our sanctions against Iran and send the legislation to the president’s desk as soon as possible.  

In addition to the use of force, we can also target and restrain the Iranian regime through robust sanctions enforcement. This requires that we do more to enforce sanctions that deprive Iran of the billions of dollars in oil revenue, revenue that they use to fund their terrorist network.  

And in addition to congressional action, the Biden administration and private companies need to dedicate more investigative resources to catch sanctions evaders. There is no reason for delay: Every dollar of revenue we can withhold from Iran is a dollar less that they can use to develop their nuclear program and support terrorists who attack American soldiers. 

America must continue to be clear eyed about the danger Iran represents and demonstrate that the United States will not waver in the face of Iranian aggression. Through targeted use of military force and strong sanctions enforcement, we can limit Iran’s ability to target our service members and demonstrate that Americans will always stand strong in our fight against terrorism. 

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