Iranian missile tests have provoked widespread
criticism in the U.S. Congress, where lawmakers called them provocative
and urged stronger U.S. and international pressure on Tehran. VOA's Dan
Robinson reports, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs William
Burns told a congressional panel the United States and its allies are
committed to maximizing diplomatic efforts on the Iranian nuclear issue.
previously-scheduled hearing on U.S. policy toward Iran coincided with
news that Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces test fired a barrage of
missiles including the long range Shahab-3.
The White House
condemned the launches, with a National Security Council spokesman
saying Iran should refrain from further tests and cease development of
Undersecretary of State Burns used his
testimony to reiterate the two-track approach of the United States and
its partners, combining economic and financial sanctions with
"Our strategy is built on tough-minded diplomacy,
maximizing pressure on the Iranians at multiple points to drive home
the cost of continued defiance of the rest of the world, especially on
nuclear issues," he said. "At the same time we're trying to make clear
to Iran and its people what they stand to gain if they change course."
threats to Israel from Iranian missiles were on the minds of Democrats
and Republicans, including committee chairman Howard Berman:
need look no further than today's news of an Iranian long-range missile
test, a missile capable of carrying a nuclear payload to Israel," he
noted. "This, coupled with the belligerent talk from Tehran of 'enemy
targets' being 'under surveillance,' could not make it any clearer that
we need to use every diplomatic and economic tool available to steer
Iran away from developing nuclear weapons capability."
Here is Florida Republican Congresswoman Ileana Ros Lehtinen:
today's news reports clearly show, Iran already has short and medium
range missiles capable of reaching U.S. forces and allies in the region
and is also pursuing long-range ballistic missiles to enable it to
reach Europe and possibly the United States," she explained.
Republican Mark Kirk called on the G8 nations to impose a quarantine on
gasoline exports to Iran, which depends on fuel imports, and said the
U.S. should do more to protect Israel from Iranian threats:
time for the United States to offer full ballistic missile defenses for
Israel. Democracies are best when they stick together," he said.
Gary Ackerman was among Democrats launching renewed criticisms of the
Bush administration over its reluctance to fully implement provisions
of the Iran Sanctions Act.
"The administration has never
implemented the Iran Sanctions Act, even though nearly 20 international
companies and consortia have crossed the so-called red line of
investing $20 million in Iran's energy sector," he said. "That shows
them that the benefits are all there, but the costs are not to be paid."
was supported by Republican Dan Burton who says more needs to be done
to impose and enforce stronger economic and investment sanctions:
haven't been putting pressure on them to stop doing business with Iran
when we say we're imposing every kind of sanction possible," he noted.
his testimony, Undersecretary Burns reiterated long-standing Bush
administration policy that it is fully committed to diplomacy,
repeating that while on the table, the military option remains a last
Burns provided this assessment of Iran's nuclear program:
deeply troubling, Iran's real nuclear progress has been less than the
sum of its boasts," he explained. "It has not yet perfected enrichment
and as a direct result of U.N. sanctions, Iran's ability to procure
technology or items of significant for its nuclear or missile programs,
even dual-use items, has been impaired."
At the same time, Burns
says Iran still has not complied with U.N. Security Council resolutions
regarding its uranium enrichment, or answered questions from the
International Atomic Energy Agency about its past weaponization