Senator Santorum on Iran

This morning Senator Rick Santorum took time from his crammed schedule to speak to a group of bloggers about Iran. Senator Santorum has been at the forefront of those criticizing the visit of former Iranian president Khatemi, the “moderate” who presided over brutal crackdowns on religious and political freedom, as well as Iran’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons.

Santorum is proposing a three-pronged approach to Iran: a push for free and fair elections; support for pro-democracy groups; and increasingly tough sanctions. He rejects the view of Fareed Zakaria, who urges folks to stop worrying and get used to the concept of a nuclear Iran, inasmuch as Iran is no Nazi Germany. Santorum contends that Iran need not be Nazi Germany for its development of nuclear weapons to be unacceptable. While Iran presumably will not invade its neighbors en masse, Hitler style, we nonetheless should be extremely concerned about what Iranian nukes would mean in terms of the regional balance of power, its ability to attack Israel, and its ability to supply its terrorist clients with WMD.

Santorum declined to talk about what the U.S. should or can do if the three-pronged approach fails. This reticence certainly was appropriate in the context of our discussion. However, it’s an issue that I believe the administration will have to confront because I see little hope that the three-pronged approach will work. The mullahs have no intention of holding free and fair elections, and there is no reason to believe that the pro-democracy forces will make headway even if the U.S. provides them with more support, as it should. Successful revolutions just don’t happen very often, and they almost never happen in nations whose power is ascending, as Iran’s is. I doubt that the Iranians themselves would have rebelled successfully in 1979 if the Carter administration had stood behind the Shah instead of demoralizing him and his top military leaders. Finally, I see little hope that sanctions will receive the international backing required to make them effective; nor is it clear that Iran would give up its nuclear program even in the face of the toughest sanctions.

For now, though, Senator Santorum deserves great credit for the leadership he so characteristically is providing in the Senate on this issue.

UPDATE: Here is a list of legislation sponsored and/or developed by Senator Santorum in the 109th Congress:

• S. 333 – Iran Freedom and Support Act of 2005. Introduced on 2/9/05. Referred to Committee on Foreign Relations. Sponsor

• S. 1737 – Iranian Nuclear Trade Prohibition Act of 2005. Introduced on 9/20/05. Referred to Committee on Foreign Relations. Sponsor

• S. Res. 349 – A resolution condemning the Government of Iran for violating the terms of the 2004 Paris Agreement, and expressing support for efforts to refer Iran to the United Nations Security Council for its noncompliance with International Atomic Energy Agency obligations. Introduced 1/20/06. Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Sponsor

• S.Con.Res. 78 – A Senate concurrent resolution condemning the Government of Iran for violating its international nuclear nonproliferation obligations and expressing support for efforts to report Iran to the United Nations Security Council. Introduced and passed1/27/06. Sponsor: Senator Bill Frist. Referred to the House Committee on International Relations. The resolution condemns the government of Iran’s many failures to comply with its nuclear nonproliferation obligations, including its obligations under the Safeguards Agreement, its suspension commitments under the Paris Agreement, and prior commitments to the EU-3 to suspend all enrichment- and reprocessing-related activities. Commends the efforts of the governments of France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to seek a credible suspension of Iran’s enrichment- and reprocessing-related activities and to find a diplomatic means to address Iran’s noncompliance with such obligations. Urges the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors at its February 2006 special meeting to order that Iran’s noncompliance be reported to the U.N. Security Council. Calls on Security Council members, in particular the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, to consider any report of Iran’s noncompliance in fulfillment of the Security Council’s mandate to respond to situations bearing on international peace and security. Original cosponsor.

• S. 2657 – Iran Sanctions Extension Act of 2006. Introduced: 4/26/06. Referred to the Senate Committee on Banking. This bill reauthorizes the sanctions (contained in Public Law 104-172; 50 U.S.C. 1701 note) against Iran for another five years. The bill is an ILSA reauthorization bill. Sponsor.

• SA 3640 to H.R. 4939 – To increase by $12,500,000 the amount appropriated for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, to increase by $12,500,000 the amount appropriated for the Department of State for the Democracy Fund, to provide that such funds shall be made available for democracy programs and activities in Iran, and to provide an offset. Sponsor: Senator Santorum. Status: Ruled out of order by the Chair. Sponsor.

• SA 4234 to S. 2766 – To authorize, with an offset, assistance for pro-democracy programs and activities inside and outside Iran, to make clear that the United States supports the ability of the people of Iran to exercise self-determination over their form of government, and to make enhancements to the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act of 1996. Sponsor: Senator Santorum. Status: Not agreed to in Senate by Yea-Nay Vote. 45 – 54. Sponsor.

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