Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Select Committee on Intelligence, delivered remarks on the floor of the U.S. Senate today urging passage of the “Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015.”
A video of Rubio’s entire speech is available here. Excerpts of Rubio’s speech are below.U.S. Senator Marco Rubio
Senate Floor Speech
May 7, 2015
Senator Marco Rubio: “And they are a guided by a third, equally sinister motivation, and that is the open and repeatedly stated desire to destroy the state of Israel, to wipe it off the face of the earth.
“They haven’t said this once in passing. The supreme leader of Iran has said this on hundreds of occasions. In fact, every Friday in Iran at government-sanctioned religious events, they chant ‘death to America’ and ‘death to Israel.’
“And if there is one lesson of history, it’s that when a leader or a nation repeatedly says, ‘We are going to kill you,’ you should take that seriously. And when the nation that says ‘We are going to kill you’ is using its governmental money to sponsor terrorism, you should take that even more seriously. And when the nation that’s going out saying ‘We’re going to kill you and wipe you off the face of the Earth’ is reprocessing plutonium or enriching uranium, you have a right to be extremely scared.
“The world understood this ten years ago, eight years ago, and so it imposed UN Security Council sanctions on Iran, international sanctions. They were not easy to put together. A lot of those countries in Europe have companies in those countries that were dying to do business in Iran. They didn’t want these sanctions, but they did them, they were in place.
“And then about a year and a half or two [ago], the president decided it is time to try to open up to Iran and see if we can work a deal out with them. And, look, in normal circumstances there’s nothing wrong with that. Right? Two countries who have a disagreement on some issue, you can work things out. There is a place for diplomacy in the world.
“The problem is that the issue we have with Iran is not based on a grievance. They’re not mad that we did something and so that’s why they’re acquiring a nuclear weapon, and if only we stopped doing what it is that aggrieved them, it would go away. This is not a grievance-based problem.
“This is an ideological problem because if you read the founding documents of the Islamic Republic, it doesn’t describe the supreme leader as the leader of Iran. Iran happens to be the country they operate from. It describes him as the supreme leader of all Muslims in the world.
“And that is why they believe that it is their goal – it is their mandate, it is their calling to export their revolution to every corner of the planet, but beginning in the Middle East. And a nuclear weapon capability would give them leverage in carrying out that goal that they have, and in their mind nothing would be more glorious than the destruction of the Jewish state.
“So the president enters these negotiations and it has been a process of constant appeasement. Moment after moment, we went from saying no enriching and reprocessing to you can enrich and reprocess at 5 percent to you can enrich up to 20 percent for research purposes. We went from saying no enrichment ever to saying in ten or 15 years all bets are off.
“And there are still items in the negotiation that are not clear. You know, the White House put out a fact sheet. They put out a piece of paper and they said, ‘This is what we agreed to.’ And Iran put out a piece of paper just like it, except it sounded like a totally different deal.
“For example, the U.S. fact sheet said that sanctions on Iran would not come off until Iran complied. But Iran’s fact sheet said: no, no, sanctions come off immediately.
“And now when you press the White House on it, they refuse to say that, in fact, it will be phased, not immediate. That’s why I filed an amendment.
“Even though I think that the president’s deal, as outlined in the fact sheet, was not good enough, I filed an amendment to at least hold them to that. And the amendment to this bill read very simply, it just said that whatever deal the president crafts has to reflect the fact sheet that he provided the Senate. But we couldn’t get a vote on it.
“The other amendment I filed is that any deal with Iran should be conditioned on Iran recognizing Israel’s right to exist. And here’s why that was so important. That was so important because this is not just about the nuclear program. The deal the president is trying to sign is about removing sanctions, meaning money is now going to flow back into the Iranian government’s coffers. What are they going to do with this money? Are they going to build roads, hospitals? Are they going to donate to charity? No. Are they going to buy food and medicine for people that are hurting around the world, the hundreds of thousands that have been displaced by Assad, their puppet? No. They’re going to use that money to sponsor terrorism, and the prime target of the terrorism they sponsor is the state of Israel. We couldn’t get a vote on that amendment either. Apparently there are senators terrified of voting against that amendment, so they’d rather not have a vote at all.
“So I am deeply disappointed by the direction this debate has taken, because I felt and I understand that this deal was carefully crafted. I am on the committee that passed it.
“But I also understand that every member of the Senate has a right to be heard on this debate. And unfortunately, only a couple of amendments were allowed to be voted on, and no one else had an opportunity to get their amendments voted on – amendments that I thought would have made this bill much more meaningful.
“But now we’ve reached this point where the majority leader has filed cloture on the bill because it’s time to move on to these other issues, and I respect that, and we have to make a decision.
“And the decision is not whether we’re going to pass the bill we want or nothing at all. The decision is, are we better off as a country with this bill or with no bill? If we don’t pass a bill, the Senate can still weigh in on the Iranian deal. But the Iranian deal kicks in immediately. And unless – and until the Senate acts, the sanctions will be off, at least the U.S. sanctions will be off. There’s also no guarantee that the White House will even show us the agreement if we don’t pass a bill.
“If we pass a bill, it delays the sanctions being lifted for a period of time. It requires the White House to submit the deal to us so we can review it, and ultimately it calls for a vote, up or down, on approving the deal or not. It actually requires that that vote will have to happen, and there can’t be any procedural process to impede it, for the most part.
“So at the end of the day, while this bill does not contain the amendments – we didn’t even get a vote on the amendments that we wanted, I never… it doesn’t contain the different aspects that I thought it would do to make it stronger – if left to the choice that we have now, I don’t think there’s any doubt that we’re in a better position if this bill passes. Because at a minimum, at least it creates a process whereby the American people through their elected representatives can debate an issue of extraordinary importance.
“If I am troubled by anything it’s that, while this issue gets a lot of coverage, I’m not sure the coverage accurately reflects what a critical moment this is.
“I said at the outset that I think a bad deal almost guarantees war and here’s why. Because the state of Israel, such an important allay to the United States, they are not thousands of miles away from Iran. They hear… Put yourself in their position for a moment. The small country with a small population, nine miles wide at its narrowest point, with a neighbor to the north that openly and repeatedly says it wants to destroy you and on the verge of acquiring a nuclear capability. And Israel feels like their very existence is being threatened, and faced with that, Israel may very well take military action on their own to protect themselves.
“I think a bad deal exponentially increases the likelihood of that happening. I also think you look at the other nations of the region, because Iran is a Shia country, a Shia-Persian country, but its Sunni-Arab neighbors aren’t big fans of the Shia branch of Islam.
“So for example, Saudi Arabia, an incredibly wealthy country, they have already said, ‘Whatever Iran gets, we’re going to get. If Iran gets the right to enrich and reprocess, we will enrich and reprocess. If Iran builds a weapon, we will build a weapon.’ And so it creates the very real specter that we’re going to have an arms race, a nuclear arms race, in the Middle East. You’re talking about a region of the world that has been unstable for 3,800 years.”
“You talk about a region of the world that could have a nuclear arms race, one of the most unstable regions on the planet. And so I hope we’re going to get a good deal. I’m not hopeful that we will, but I think we’re better off if we have this process in place. And so I hope this bill passes here today so at least we’ll have a chance to weigh in on an issue of critical importance.”