SHAHEEN QUESTIONS U.S. OFFICIALS ON THREAT OF IRANIAN NUCLEAR PROGRAM

December 01, 2011

(Washington, DC) – At a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing today, United States Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) questioned Obama Administration officials on the effect of international sanctions on Iran’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons. Shaheen emphasized the importance of multilateral cooperation between the United States and other members of the international community to intensify pressure on the Iranian government.

“With the dangers of nuclear proliferation presenting one of our most pressing global concerns, I remain deeply concerned about Iran’s continued pursuit of illicit nuclear materials,” Shaheen said. “By consistently failing to meet international calls to stop nuclear weapon development, Iran presents a grave danger to the international community. There must be real consequences for Iran’s decision to pursue these weapons. I applaud the Administration’s recent executive order to tighten sanctions on Iran, but I believe we need to do more.”

Shaheen called on the panel to specifically comment on the effectiveness of existing sanctions and what role other nations should play in further pressuring the Iranian government to halt nuclear weapon development. David Cohen, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence at the Department of Treasury, answered that working with U.S. allies and other members of the international community to strengthen and expand sanctions offers the best path forward in countering dangerous activities in Iran.

The hearing comes in the wake of a recent increase in sanctions imposed on Iran by the United States in response to a November report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which explicitly details Iranian undertakings involving nuclear weapons.  The increase includes targeting the development of petroleum resources, expanding the list of sanctioned individuals and entities assisting Iran’s nuclear procurement networks, and impeding foreign trade in Iran’s central bank. All sanctions emphasize the urgency of the Iranian threat and build on the United State’s ongoing efforts to restrict Iran’s acquisition of any nuclear weapons. 

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