Foreign Affairs - Official Blog
Posts from April 2010
WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with her colleagues, U.S. Reps. Kendrick Meek (D-FL), Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Connie Mack (R-FL), issued the following statement today on reports that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will be granted a visa to visit New York next week to speak at a conference at the United Nations reviewing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

“It is an outrage that Ahmadinejad, yet again, will be able to preach hate and violence on American soil.

“This is the leader of a regime which calls the U.S. the ‘great satan,’ threatens to wipe Israel off the map, bankrolls violent extremists across the globe, and helps fund insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan which kill U.S. troops.

“Make no mistake: Ahmadinejad’s attendance will make a mockery of a conference meant to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It will also make a mockery of U.S. efforts to secure global support to stop Iran’s nuclear weapons pursuit, and it will turn the conference into yet another forum to attack Israel on a global stage.

“The U.S. must not allow this dangerous tyrant to use our freedoms and our obligations as a host country for the UN to force himself upon our country to spread his message of hate and violence.”

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is proud to join her colleagues Congressmen Lincoln Diaz-Balart (R-FL), Mario Diaz-Balart (R-FL), and Albio Sires (D-NJ) in sponsoring the 13th annual Cuba Day on Capitol Hill. This year’s event will be held on Wednesday, May 12th from 12:00 noon – 1:00 p.m. and will raise awareness about the plight of the Cuban people and honor the courage and sacrifices of Cuba’s “Ladies in White,” Orlando Zapata Tamayo, and Guillermo Fariñas. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

“This event is an important opportunity to honor the courage and sacrifice of those struggling in Cuba to be free from the atrocious brutality of the Havana regime. I am particularly excited that the courageous Janisset Rivero will join us to provide her insight on the state of human rights in Cuba.


“The life and death of Orlando Zapata Tamayo represents the dream of all who live and breathe for freedom in Cuba. His strength and perseverance resonates still today as courageous human rights activists like Guillermo Fariñas and the ‘Ladies in White’ carry on the struggle to bring freedom to Cuba’s shores.


“Because we will never give up hope, we will continue to spread this message for freedom and human rights until they emanate from all corners of Cuba once more.”


Note: Cuban human rights activist Janisset Rivero will speak about the current situation on the ground in Cuba, the brutal tactics employed by the Castro regime, and the state of Cuban civil society.


****Information on room location will follow****


#####

Representative Bob Inglis (SC-4) issued the following statement in response to a United Nations announcement that it had elected Iran to a commission dedicated to women’s rights.:

“Iran has one of the world’s worst records in oppressing women and stifling the rights of its citizenry. The United Nations should be calling them to account, not making a mockery of its own institutions. Our representation in the U.N. was asleep at the wheel to allow this appointment without a vote. I call on our Ambassador to seek their immediate removal from the Commission.”

The U.N. announced in a press release that it had seated a representative from Iran on the Commission on the Status of Women, a group dedicated to the equality and advancement of women.

Inglis has signed on as an original co-sponsor to Rep. Thaddeus McCotter's resolution and has voted to enact harsh sanctions on the Iranian regime to stop them from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Representatives Ted Poe (TX-02), Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08), Ed Royce (CA-40), Dan Burton (IN-05) and additional members of Congress call on President Obama to take immediate action to address the growing national security threat on our southern border.

In a letter being sent to the President, Congressional members are urging the administration to grant requests from the governors of our nation border states for National Guard troops to be deployed to the U.S.-Mexico border. In addition, the letter specifically requests that any National Guard troops that are deployed should be armed and allowed to defend themselves if fired upon; upon request, assist in defending Border Patrol agents and other law enforcement officers; and that they be provided with very clear guidance of proper rules of engagement.

“Border patrol and local law enforcement on the border are out-manned, out-gunned, and out-financed, said Rep. Ted Poe. Texas Governor Rick Perry has been asking for National Guard troops for over a year, but Washington continues to ignore these requests. This is not a partisan or political issue, this is a national security issue. I urge the administration to take immediate action on this request and secure the border.

“Border security is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue, an American issue, said Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. “Every American, no matter which party they belong to or where they live, is deeply concerned about restoring law and order in our border communities. These communities have suffered enough. President Obama needs to immediately deploy the National Guard and send a clear message to the drug cartels: We will fight you, we will stop you and we will never waiver in our commitment to securing our border.”

Recent news reports of the murders of Lesley Enriquez, a U.S. Consulate employee, and her husband Arthur Redelf, a ten year veteran of the El Paso Police Department, and long-time Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, have brought the seriousness of this issue to the national forefront.

Rep. Ed Royce added, “As the Ranking Member of the Terrorism Nonproliferation and Trade Subcommittee I know all too well that border security is national security. For years I have supported programs like Operation Jump Start that seek to address our nation’s border vulnerabilities which is why I am pleased to work with Rep. Poe to give Americans what they’ve been asking the federal government to deliver for years: border enforcement. I hope this Administration makes border enforcement more of a priority.”

Border Patrol and law enforcement agents along the border are facing a growing threat to their safety. Assaults against Border Patrol agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in 2007 to 1,097 incidents in 2008. Recent analysis from the El Paso Sector Border Intelligence Center warns that retaliatory actions against law enforcement officers could occur in the border region.

The bipartisan letter gained the support of the National Border Patrol Council. "The National Border Patrol Council strongly endorses the recent requests of several border state governors and Members of Congress to deploy National Guard troops to perform support functions for the Border Patrol," stated T.J. Bonner, the organization's president. "In its view, the National Guard's contributions in that role over the past several years have been invaluable. The Council believes that these troops should be armed and authorized to defend themselves and others against attacks. The unwavering support of the dedicated men and women of the Border Patrol by certain Members of Congress, including the signatories to today's letter to President Obama, is greatly appreciated by the National Border Patrol Council. The tasks performed by Border Patrol agents are often dangerous and thankless, so it is heartening to know that some of our elected officials understand and appreciate the importance of the Border Patrol's mission and are trying to obtain the resources and support that are needed by front-line agents."

The letter also urges the Administration to provide the Border Patrol with the support it needs, both in terms of tangible resources such as state-of-the-art technology and equipment, as well as ensuring that agents are not disciplined or prosecuted for performing their duties or defending themselves against attacks.

Members of Congress on the letter (as of April 27, 2010): Rep. Ted Poe (TX-02); Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (AZ-08); Rep. Dan Burton (IN-05); Rep. Edward Royce (CA-40); Rep. Harry Teague (NM-02); Rep. Michael McCaul (TX-10); Rep. Kay Granger (TX-12); Rep. Brian Bilbray (CA-50); Rep. John Carter (TX-31); Rep. Sam Johnson (TX-03); Rep. Louie Gohmert (TX-01); Rep. John Culberson (TX-07); Rep. Joe Barton (TX-06); Rep. Michael Burgess (TX-26); Rep. Duncan Hunter (CA-52); Rep. Ralph Hall (TX-04); Rep. John Shadegg (AZ-03)


Full text of the letter:

April 28, 2010

The Honorable Barack Obama
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear President Obama,

As you know, violence in the vicinity of the U.S.-Mexico border continues to increase at an alarming rate. We believe that this violence represents a serious threat to the national security of the United States as well as a serious threat to U.S. citizens that live along the 1,969 mile long border. We strongly believe that it is imperative for your Administration to promptly take the necessary steps to prevent this violence.

We urge the Administration to take action to address this growing national security threat on our southern border. Without swift and decisive action, it is our fear that this violence will only increase in severity and scope. We urge you to deploy the National Guard to the U.S.-Mexico border, as has been requested by a number of border state Governors and Members of Congress. We ask that any National Guard troops that are deployed should be provided with very clear guidance of proper rules of engagement and should be armed and allowed to defend themselves if fired upon or attacked.

As you know, the level of violence along the border continues to increase. Since January 2008, nearly 5,000 homicides have been committed in Juarez, Mexico, making it one of the most violent cities in the world. In 2009 alone, 79 U.S. citizens were killed in Juarez, Mexico. On March 13th of this year, Lesley Enriquez, a U.S. Consulate employee, and her husband Arthur Redelf, a ten year veteran of the El Paso Police Department, were killed when Mexican drug gang members fired a number of rounds at their vehicle. That same day, Jorge Alberto Salcido, the husband of a U.S. Consulate employee, was killed when cartel members shot at his car at a separate location.

On March 27, 2010, Robert Krentz, a longtime Arizona rancher, was found shot dead and slumped over in his all-terrain vehicle with the engine still running. Following the murder of Mr. Krentz, his assailant was tracked to the U.S.- Mexico border and there is evidence that he crossed the border into Mexico. The day before the killing, Mr. Krentz’s brother had called the Border Patrol to report a caravan of illegal immigrants who were ultimately caught carrying 280 pounds of marijuana.

Additionally, our Border Patrol and law enforcement agents along the border are facing a growing threat to their safety. Assaults against Border Patrol agents increased 46 percent from 752 incidents in 2007 to 1,097 incidents in 2008. Recent analysis from the El Paso Sector Border Intelligence Center warns that retaliatory actions against law enforcement officers could occur in the border region.

At the same time, we urge the Administration to provide the Border Patrol with the support it needs, both in terms of tangible resources such as state-of-the-art technology and equipment, as well as ensuring that agents are not disciplined or prosecuted for performing their duties or defending themselves against attacks.

We stand ready to work together with you and your Administration on these important issues to ensure the safety and security of all Americans in the border region and throughout our country.
Washington, DC--U.S. Congressman Mike Pence gave the following opening statement today at the first conference committee meeting on Iran sanctions bills passed by the House and Senate:
"Mr. Chairman, I would like to thank you for convening this conference committee and I commend the members of this conference committee who have recognized the threat posed by Iran's pursuit of nuclear weapons.

"This conference committee has no ordinary task. We have a job to do and history will judge the actions taken by this conference committee and this country. I pray that history will conclude that we rose to the challenge and enacted legislation that led the world to act in concert against the rising threat of a nuclear Iran. I will also pray that history will not conclude that our failure to lead boldly ended in a flash of light, the rush of wind and a second historic tragedy for our most cherished ally. The stakes are that high.

"We must make certain that the prospect of an Iranian regime armed with nuclear weapons never materializes. As President Obama noted last year in Prague, a nuclear Iran will 'increase insecurity for all.' One year later, Iran's nuclear program is accelerating and we draw ever closer to the reality of Iran as a nuclear power.

"As we have seen for the last sixteen months, diplomacy and engagement have had no real impact on Tehran. Deadlines set by President Obama have passed without any change in Iran's behavior and the United Nations has demonstrated no serious leadership on this issue.

"Secretary of Defense Gates has noted that we do not have a real long-term strategy to stop Iran from realizing its nuclear ambitions.

"Frankly, this Administration has spent more time on global warming than on the growing threat of a nuclear Iran. The Nuclear Security Summit, recently held here in Washington, D.C., did not bring us any closer to imposing tough sanctions on Iran despite the fact that Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons and its support for terrorism remain the single most pressing proliferation threat.

"As members of the conference committee, we must report the strongest possible Iran Sanctions bill back to the Congress to force the Iranian regime to give up its weapons program or face crippling economic isolation. We must resist efforts to weaken the sanctions in this legislation to accommodate diplomatic concerns. We must resist efforts to include carve-outs and waivers that will dilute the effectiveness of our action.

"And lastly, we must remember that time is of the essence. As instructed by a bipartisan majority in the House, I urge my colleagues on this committee to bear down and complete our work by May 28, only a few weeks from now.

"There are some in diplomatic circles and within this Administration who undoubtedly want to see this committee and this process slowed down, but as our military's leaders recently testified before Congress, time is running short. The Iranian regime soon will not only possess a nuclear weapon, but it continues to test the means with which to deliver it against the United States or our allies. We must act boldly and we must act quickly.

"Given the long history of state-sponsored terrorism by the regime in Tehran, and given the threat to our security and our most cherished ally Israel, this is life and death."
WASHINGTON – Congressman Connie Mack (FL-14), the Ranking Republican on the House Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, today slammed Nicaraguan President and Chavez crony Daniel Ortega for trying to dismantle democratic institutions and remain in power indefinitely.

Mack said:

“Daniel Ortega has taken a page out of the Hugo Chavez playbook by ignoring the Nicaraguan Constitution and seeking to remain in power indefinitely.

“Ortega circumvented the constitution and the Nicaraguan Congress by issuing an illegal decree to extend the terms of several Sandinista judges. As legislators met to overturn the illegal decree this week, two Ortega-appointed judges led a violent demonstration to prevent the legislators from meeting.

“These kinds of threats and attacks are not surprising coming from a Hugo Chavez crony like Daniel Ortega. He has proven that he will stop at nothing to exert his power over the Nicaraguan people and overturn the country’s democratic institutions.

“The Obama Administration has done little to condemn Ortega’s actions. What a stark change from the Administration’s immediate rush to call the events in Honduras last year a “coup.”

“The Administration has spoken of the vital role that strong democratic institutions play in Latin America. Now is the time to stand on the side of freedom and democracy.”
U.S. Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) warned the Obama administration Wednesday that now isn’t the time to soften its nuclear policy and that any international nuclear agreements should begin first with strong sanctions against the Iranian nuclear program.

“I disagree with the premise that the need for strong nuclear deterrence has declined,” Inglis said. “ If anything, we are seeing rogue nations trafficking in nuclear weapons technology as a mockery of our good intentions and grand ideas of a nuclear free world.”

Inglis said he was concerned that the agreement between the U.S. and Russia for Nuclear Arms reduction was carried out in a vacuum, without getting clear commitment on the Iran issue.

“I welcome the Administration’s efforts to review American nuclear policy and prevent loose nuclear fuel from falling into the hands of terrorists,” Inglis said. “But we want to avoid any deal that binds our hands or erodes America’s great strength. Withdrawing from the eastern European missile defense sites and cutting funding for missile defense systems sent the wrong message to our allies last year, and now we seem to be heading further down the same road.”

April has been a crucial month for American nuclear security policy. President Barack Obama signed the New START strategic arms reduction treaty with President Dmitri Medvedev of Russia.

The Administration has also issued its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, and hosted 46 world leaders in a nuclear security summit in Washington, DC.

“And yet over the past 10 days we see memos being leaked from within the administration showing real concern that the United States has not sufficiently dealt with the nuclear ambitions of Iran.”

This week, an unclassified report sent to Congress stated that with sufficient foreign assistance, Iran could probably develop and test an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the United States by 2015, according to a report by Reuters.

The report also included an assessment of Iran's broader military capabilities and support for insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as groups like Hamas in the Palestinian territories and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned in a secret memo reported this week by The New York Times that the United States does not have an effective long-range policy for dealing with Iran’s progress toward nuclear capability.

“It is not clear we are gaining any further ground on the collective international will to do something meaningful about Iran despite all our good intentions,” Inglis said. “A tough Iran policy ought to come first, before we start outlining when and where we will or won’t use nuclear weapons and how we will reduce them.”

The New START commits America and Russia to reducing the number of nuclear weapons platforms in the arsenal to 1,550. This does not include tactical nuclear weapons, which Russia has built in great numbers. Security experts have suggested that Russia’s strategic arsenal would drop to close to this number regardless of treaty commitments, due to Russia’s lack of funding for replacement warheads.

While the agreement with Russia is seen as improving relations, it is unclear whether Russia or China will back tough sanctions with bite on Iran.

“We have to avoid one-sided deals that give up the position of great strength that previous generations fought to provide us, and which we are so privileged to hold.”
http://mikepence.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=4028&Itemid=71

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Mike Pence issued the following statement today calling for President Obama to impose crippling sanction on Iran in light of their continued progress towards nuclear weapons capability:

"Iran's steady progress in its nuclear program represents a severe threat to American national interests and an existential threat to our cherished ally Israel.

"Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons could lead to the proliferation of these weapons throughout the Middle East and beyond, destabilizing the global non-proliferation regime and greatly increasing the likelihood of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

"A nuclear-armed Tehran would assert greater influence over the region and amplify its interference in the domestic affairs of its neighbors, especially in Iraq and Afghanistan where our troops have made significant steps towards victory.

"Over a year ago, President Obama said there must be ‘real and immediate consequences' for countries that defy their responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. In light of this week's summit and Iran's continued intransigence, the international community led by the U.S. must act.

"I've joined colleagues from both sides of the aisle in drafting a letter urging the President to impose crippling sanctions on Iran immediately. With more than 360 Members of the House of Representatives signed onto this letter, it is clear that the will of the People's House is to move forward decisively.

"The hour is late. Now is the time for action."

Background:

Congressman Pence joined Congressman Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-IL) in writing a letter to President Obama, urging him to exert his "existing authority on Iran." Currently the letter has over 360 signatories, including 171 House Republicans.

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