WASHINGTON -- If President Barack Obama feels the need to launch a military strike against Iran's nuclear program, Congress will back him, a group of senators declared Wednesday.
That pledge came along with the unveiling of a resolution on Capitol Hill that appeared designed to pressure Obama into taking a tougher stance on Iran, and to foreclose any option of letting Iran achieve an atomic weapon.
If Iran were on the verge of building a bomb, the resolution would seem to require that the administration destroy it, but Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said it was more of a show of support for such actions.
"This resolution is not an authorization to use military force," Lieberman said. "But in opposing containment, it certainly is, I would think, sending a message to President Obama that if he decides as commander-in-chief that at any point that a military strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons facility is necessary in the national security interest of the United States, then he can expect broad bipartisan support from the United States Congress."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), one of 32 co-sponsors on the heavily bipartisan measure, argued that containing Iran was not an option when leaders of the country have insisted Israel be wiped out, when it's building a nuclear program under a mountain that looks more military based than civilian, and when the nation is willing to suffer sanctions to keep its atomic program.
"We're not going to contain people like that, we’re going to stop them," said Graham, although he added that his first choice to curtail the regime was still sanctions.
Both senators argued that sanctions would be more effective if it was clear America is ready to strike, and the proposed resolution shows that.
"It is saying we will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran because they cannot be contained," Graham said. "They will either share the material with terrorists, is the likelihood, or for sure, create nuclear proliferation throughout the Middle East."
"So we’re standing with the president, to say that’s not an acceptable result," Graham added. "I think sanctions can still work, but they will only work if the Iranians believe the military option is on the table."
The White House did not immediately respond to the new legislation, but spokesman Jay Carney said Tuesday that the president would be sticking with the current strategy as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits Washington this week.
"His position is what it has been, which is that we will take no option off the table, but we believe that there is time and space to allow for a diplomatic resolution through the pressure that we are asserting on Tehran through sanctions and other means with our international partners," Carney said.
"We are keenly aware of the fact that Iran has continued to fail to live up to its obligations, continued to behave in a way that casts doubt on its intentions with its nuclear program, continued to engage in the kind of rhetoric that makes this process even more difficult for Iran."
Still, the senators insisted a tougher stand is required with leaders like Iran's.
"They're not building a nuclear power plant for peaceful purposes. They've marching towards nuclear weapons capability," said Graham. "The end game is, sanctions can work and will work if properly applied, but in case they fail ... the Iran regime will not be allowed to possess nuclear capability. And if that means military actions, so be it."
In addition to seeking a verified end to any Iranian nuclear weapons program, the resolution also calls for a dismantling of Iran's ballistic missile program.
Michael McAuliff covers politics and Congress for The Huffington Post. Talk to him on Facebook.
BEFORE YOU GO
06/19/2012 9:05 AM EDT
Moscow talks make little progress.
MOSCOW — A top Russian official made a last-ditch effort to save talks over Iran's nuclear program from collapse Tuesday, holding a meeting with Iran's chief envoy.
But diplomats said the negotiations remained deadlocked as they went into a second and possibly final day, with the presidents of the United States and Russia urging Iran to agree to curb nuclear activities that could be turned toward arming warheads and Iran demanding a lifting of sanctions crippling its oil industry.
Read more on HuffPost World.
06/18/2012 12:09 PM EDT
Iran, West start nuclear talks.
MOSCOW, June 18 (Reuters) - World powers began two days of talks with Iran on Monday to try to end a decade-long stand-off over Tehran's nuclear programme and avert the threat of a new war in the Middle East.
In Iran, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said Tehran would be prepared to stop enriching uranium to a higher level - a process that could be used to make nuclear arms - if the six powers agreed to meet its needs for the fuel. But it is not clear how much influence Ahmadinejad has over the negotiations and whether his remarks reflect Tehran's position in the talks.
Read the full article on HuffPost World.
06/13/2012 6:50 PM EDT
All proposals on the table.
TEHRAN, Iran -- Proposals from both Iran and the group of six world powers will be on the table for nuclear talks in Moscow next week, not just the West's demand to halt Iran's highest level uranium enrichment, Iran's top negotiator said Wednesday.
Read more on HuffPost World.
06/08/2012 10:20 AM EDT
New round of nuke talks.
VIENNA, June 8 (Reuters) - Iran and the United Nations nuclear watchdog began a new round of talks on Friday in an attempt to seal a deal to resume a long-stalled probe into suspected atomic weapon research in the Islamic state.
Read the full story on HuffPost World.
06/08/2012 7:33 AM EDT
Ahmadinejad: 'Iran won't build nuclear bomb.'
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's president says Iran has no intention of building nuclear weapons, but fear would not deter it if it decided to make them.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's comments suggest a toughening of Iran's position ahead of June 18-19 talks with world powers over Tehran's nuclear program.
The five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany want Iran to shut down its highest level uranium enrichment facilities. Ahmadinejad's remarks suggest Iran would refuse.
Ahmadinejad made the comments during a meeting with Afghan President Hamid Karzai on Thursday in China. His remarks were posted on his website.
The U.S. and its allies suspect Iran is seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes like power generation and cancer treatment. (AP)
06/06/2012 12:03 PM EDT
Smuggling of epic proportions
The BBC reports that $20 billion worth of goods -- the equivalent of nearly 30 percent of the country’s annual official trade -- are smuggled into Iran's borders every year.
Watch the full story here.
06/03/2012 3:11 PM EDT
Clinton draws no conclusions
STOCKHOLM — U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton says she's not drawing any conclusions about what effect the latest hash words from Iran might have on the potential success of upcoming nuclear talks in Moscow.
05/31/2012 2:08 PM EDT
Iran's Forrest Gump.
Iranian-born Reza Baluchi is a regular Forrest Gump. Ten years ago he ran away from Iran. He’s run across the United States twice since then, once around its perimeter. Yet now he’s planning his biggest journey of all, CNN reports, a run around the world that will take him through his home country once more.
It started when he ran away from home at the age of eight. Later he ran away from his homeland, Iran, and spent seven years on a bicycle, pedaling 49,700 miles across 55 countries.
In 2002, he reached America. He now lives in a tent in Death Valley.
It's been nearly 10 years since Reza Baluchi escaped from Iran. He has run across the United States twice and around its perimeter once. He sets out on every journey with the same mission: to spread a message of world peace.
Read the full story here.
05/31/2012 2:01 PM EDT
Jackson Pollock painting returned.
After being seized by Iranian customs over a monetary dispute, a painting by Jackson Pollock has been returned to the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art in Iran, the BBC reports.
Mural on Indian Red Ground was seized by the country's customs service on 11 May after being on loan to Japan.
The service said it confiscated the work over money owed by the Ministry of Culture, which runs the museum.
The ministry said the painting had been returned "after negotiations.”
Read the full story here.
05/29/2012 7:24 PM EDT
Dissident blogger in Iran.
Hossein Ronaghi Maleki, a 26-year-old Iranian dissident blogger, has spent the past 13 months in solitary confinement at Iran’s Evin Prison, BBC Persian reports.
International Business Times reports that Maleki has written a letter to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, including the following passage:
“Leader of the Islamic Republic,
We must admit that judicial independence is not possible with the existence of so many intelligence and security entities.
We must admit that the society is facing a great explosion, and the current superficial peace is basically due to oppression, intimidation, imprisonments and suppression.
We must know that the thoughts of freedom seekers cannot be enchained! Ideologies cannot be tortured! Truth cannot be suppressed!”