Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, by direction of the Committee on Rules, I call up House Resolution 457 and ask for its immediate consideration.
The Clerk read the resolution, as follows:
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The gentleman from Florida (Mr. Goss) is recognized for 1 hour.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield my friend, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. Hall), the customary 30 minutes, pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate on this subject only.
Mr. Speaker, H. Res. 457 is a very straightforward rule designed to facilitate the last step in the legislative process for H.R. 2709, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997.
Members may remember that this legislation was overwhelmingly approved by this House on a voice vote through the suspension process in November of last year. The other body considered the House bill and passed it on a 90 to 4 vote just a few weeks ago, changing only two dates in the legislation to reflect the passage of time and intervening events that occurred since the House first acted this past November.
Therefore, the purpose of this rule is to allow the House to concur in the action taken by the other body so we can send this measure on to the President, who will, we hope, sign it into law expeditiously.
In technical terms, Mr. Speaker, this rule provides for a single motion offered by the chairman of the Committee on International Relations or his designee to concur in each of the Senate amendments, which are as I have just explained. The rule provides that those Senate amendments and the motion shall be considered as read. The rule then provides for 1 hour of debate in the House, to be equally divided between the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on International Relations. It is a very simple rule, very straightforward, very fair, and, I believe, will get the job done quickly.
Mr. Speaker, in recent days and weeks Americans have been jolted back into reality from what has been a lulling period of complacency about the threat of weapons of mass destruction in this dangerous world. The President has said repeatedly and pointedly that tonight our children will go to bed with no nuclear weapons pointed at them. Unfortunately, he was wrong. The world is a more dangerous place today. Events in India and Pakistan, allegations about advances in the Chinese missile program, and the potential for serious danger to our national security dominate the news these days.
We have seen that nuclear weapons remain a tremendous threat to world security and peace, and we understand quite well that those who seek to proliferate in this deadly weapons race have not learned the terrible lessons of history.
Proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is a major issue of concern for the intelligence committees, for the Committee on National Security, for all the Members of the House and the other body, and, indeed, for every American. I must say that as chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, I continue to be more than disappointed in the Clinton administration's approach to dealing with this issue, especially as we have seen it unfold in the past few weeks.
I remain dismayed that time and time again it seems that the administration is willing to place perceived economic interests ahead of national security interests. The legislation we are bringing forward today is designed to send a strong signal to the world that we do not endorse such an approach and we specifically will not condone the transfer of missile goods or technology to Iran, a rogue nation that sponsors state terrorism and is actively engaged in weapons proliferation.
We know that Iran's intentions, with or without Khatemi, are clearly not in the best interests of our national security or our global stability. Yet that nation's capabilities are fast approaching the ability to produce medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. This legislation puts any foreign persons or entities who persist in providing missile technology to Iran on notice that their actions will result in stiff sanctions.
We are specifically interested in signaling to Russia and Russian firms that we expect their actions to speak as loudly as their words they used when, in January of this past year, the Russian Prime Minister issued a decree tightening legal controls on Russian exports of missile technology.
I think it is significant that the other body chose to use this January 22, 1998 date of that Russian decree as the effective date for the provisions of this legislation to underscore the importance of Russia implementing its stated policy. We are challenging them fairly and squarely to stop cheating, and we are saying to the Clinton administration, no more winking at violations, no more giving the benefit of the doubt to those who do not deserve it.
Mr. Speaker, this is a simple and fair rule, and I urge Members to support it and support the underlying bill, which is an important and vital message.
I also remain hopeful that the President will do the right thing and sign this legislation into law as soon as possible.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my colleague, the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Goss), for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, this rule, House Resolution 457, provides for the consideration of Senate amendments to H.R. 2709. This is a bill that imposes sanctions on foreign individuals and companies to block Iran from acquiring the capability to build ballistic missiles. It is directed primarily at Russian companies. As my colleague from Florida described, this rule provides 1 hour of general debate, to be equally divided between the chairman and ranking minority member of the Committee on International Relations.
Mr. Speaker, there is little disagreement in the House over the intent of this legislation. The House passed it by a voice vote last year, and there is support for the measure on both sides of the aisle. Though the Russian Government has taken a number of positive actions in the last year, including issuing several regulations, we need to see implementation of these regulations. We need to see the Russian Government increase border security and step up punishment of those who are involved in the illegal transfer of missile technology.
Despite the clear need for more action, I want to point out to my colleagues that there is some difference of opinion about bringing up the resolution at this moment. Later this month, U.S. and Israeli officials plan to get together and compare intelligence they have gathered regarding the transfer of missile technology to Iran. It may be more appropriate to wait until we have the benefit of that information.
Also there are new high-level discussions between our National Security Council and its Russian counterpart to address this very problem, and we need to coordinate with the administration on timing to make sure that we strengthen our position in dealing with Russia, not weaken it. Some observers argue that congressional action at this time is premature, when we are actually seeing some of the fruits of our efforts to stem the flow of technology to the Iranian government.
Mr. Speaker, despite these reservations about bringing the resolution to the floor at this time, I will not oppose the rule, so that the House will have the opportunity to fully debate the issue.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt), the minority leader.
(Mr. GEPHARDT asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GEPHARDT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today as a cosponsor and strong supporter of this legislation, but I do not think that it is the proper time to be holding a vote on this bill. I believe it is premature to act today on this legislation.
The intention in writing this bill was to influence the Russian Government's policy regarding the transfer of sensitive missile technology to Iran. This bill sought to demonstrate to Russia's leaders that we take these transfers very seriously and that we expected them to as well.
The development of ballistic missiles by Iran poses a threat not only to U.S. forces in the Middle East, not only to Israel and other U.S. allies in the region, but to Russia's national security as well.
There is evidence that Russia's leaders have received the message of this bill and have begun to address our concerns. The Russian Government has taken a number of steps to prohibit such exports and is working to implement measures that will effectively prevent them from occurring, but it needs to do more.
I believe that we must have action to stop these exports, not simply words and decrees. The Russian Government needs to convince us in a clear and comprehensive manner that it is exerting a 100 percent effort to prevent these transfers.
After an intense dialogue between some of our Nation's most senior diplomats and their Russian counterparts, we may be on our way to finally achieving this goal. In the past few months, we have begun to see evidence of Russia's leaders moving to close off channels of cooperation with Iran.
That is why I am concerned with the timing of this legislation today. The passage of this bill would, in effect, demonstrate an admission of defeat, that we have failed to influence Russia's government to this problem, and we are, instead, resorting to sanctions against individual companies that have engaged in these dangerous exports.
I am not ready to admit defeat. It is too early to throw in the towel, and neither is our closest ally in the Middle East.
Two weeks ago I visited Israel and met with Trade Minister Nathan Sharansky at his request regarding the transfer of missile technology from Russia to Iran. Minister Sharansky had just returned from Moscow where he had discussed this matter with senior Russian officials.
Minister Sharansky made two key points to me. First, he urged that the United States continue to press the Russian Government to take effective and tangible steps to stop the flow of missile technology to Iran. Second, he urged that we give the key players in the Russian Government an opportunity to implement what he thought were important measures to address this problem.
After visiting Israel, I then went to Moscow myself to discuss this and other issues with Russian officials. I met with Russia's new Security Council Director Andrei Kikoshin, who explained to me that the transfer of missile technology to Iran is as much a threat to Russia as it is to the United States or any other country in the world. He then described the steps that he and the Russian Government are taking to stem the flow of technology to Iran and laid out plans for additional steps in the immediate future.
Minister Kokoshin will visit Washington next week and has asked to meet not only with administration officials, but also with congressional leaders to update us on his government's actions to address our mutual concerns about these dangerous exports.
I also understand that in 2 weeks United States and Israeli intelligence officials will meet to compare information on the status of missile exports to Iran and to assess the effectiveness of steps the Russian Government is taking to stop them.
With all of these activities taking place right now, I am concerned that the passage of this legislation today will signal to Russia that we care more about sanctions than we do about the efforts it has made to address our concerns.
Passage of this bill would suggest that we do not want to work with them on cooperative efforts to stop future transfers, but, rather, are content to impose penalties on past transfers. It could very well create unintended obstacles for the efforts of Russian leaders to implement the very export controls needed to stop the flow of technology to Iran.
I also met with leaders in the Russian Duma, the Speaker of their Duma, the Deputy Speaker of the Duma. They both said that they were undertaking to pass legislation in the Duma that would be consistent with export flow legislation that has been passed by all of the G-8 countries.
I had hoped that we could monitor developments on this issue over the coming few weeks and then make an informed and reasoned determination about how to proceed. That is what I understand our friends in Israel wanted us to do as well. Consequently, I will be compelled to vote present today as an expression of my personal view that a vote on this bill today is premature.
Let me be very clear in conclusion, we may have to enact this legislation in the very near future if our collective judgment is that Russia is not taking adequate steps to address this issue. We do not want to repeat our experience with China where, despite repeated assurances to the contrary, they continued to proliferate missile technology to unstable or rogue regimes.
We will not repeat those mistakes when it comes to Russia. We must act decisively in the event that the Russian Government is unresponsive to our concerns. But I do not believe we are able to make such an informed judgment today.
Mr. HALL of Ohio. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to make a few remarks in response to the distinguished minority leader's information that he has shared with us on the floor.
It is true he has just been in Russia, and I admire the energies he has put into this process. I would suggest, however, that if the only problem is timing, that we are better going ahead now rather than waiting.
I would note that when we wait, bad things seem to happen. We waited in the Southeast Asia area after the Pakistanis flew a provocative missile, and we discovered that the Indians felt compelled to do some nuclear testing, which, of course, then led to the Pakistanis doing some nuclear testing, which then led to all the other proliferators in the area wanting to get in on the act.
I do not think now is a time to be sitting by waiting. I think now is a time to be making a very clear, strong statement. I do not believe there should be any doubt about where the United States Congress stands on the subject of proliferation between Russia and Iran or any other proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the world.
Especially when Minister Kokoshin comes here, I think it would be most useful if we had a very strong vote so that there is a clear understanding that there are some matters in terms of cooperation that are not negotiable.
Cooperation means cooperation in a meaningful way. It does not mean more appeasement. It does not mean winking. It does not mean blinking. It does not mean nodding at nuclear proliferation. It means not tolerating it, period.
I believe this vote sends that message. I believe now is the right time. I am prepared to call for the vote after I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield.
Mr. GOSS. I yield to the gentleman from New York.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, the minority leader, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt) has indicated they need some more time in the Russian Duma and the Russian administration to meet some of the requests that we are making with regard to this measure.
Let me ask the gentleman in a colloquy, if we were to pass, and I hope we will pass, this measure today, it then goes to the President. The President has 10 days in which to act. In the time he acts, if he does veto it, as he says he may do, it comes back, we are talking at least 3 weeks, are we not, before the measure comes back before the House?
Mr. GOSS. It is possible that that is a correct scenario.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, it would seem to me, in that 3-week period, the Duma would have certainly sufficient time in which to accomplish whatever they want to accomplish.
Mr. GOSS. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of our time, and I move the previous question on the resolution.
The previous question was ordered.
The resolution was agreed to.
A motion to reconsider is laid upon the table.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 457, I move to take from the Speaker's table the bill (H.R. 2709) to impose certain sanctions on foreign persons who transfer items contributing to Iran's efforts to acquire, develop, or produce ballistic missiles, and to implement the obligations of the United States under the Chemical Weapons Convention, with Senate amendments thereto and concur in the Senate amendments.
The Clerk read the title of the bill.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. The Clerk will designate the motion.
The text of the motion is as follows:
Mr. Gilman moves that the House concur in the Senate amendments to H.R. 2709.
The text of the Senate amendments is as follows:
Page 2, lines 15 and 16, strike out `August 8, 1995--' and insert `January 22, 1998--'.
Page 6, lines 24 and 25, strike out `August 8, 1995--' and insert `January 22, 1998--'.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Stearns). Pursuant to House Resolution 457, the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) and the gentleman from Mr. Indiana (Mr. Hamilton) each will control 30 minutes.
The Chair recognizes the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I ask unanimous consent that all Members may have 5 legislative days within which to revise and extend their remarks on the bill, H.R. 2709, and the Senate amendments thereto.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Is there objection to the request of the gentleman from New York?
There was no objection.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
(Mr. GILMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, the bill before us, H.R. 2709, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, will make the world a safer place. It closes loopholes in our counterproliferation laws to address a matter of critical concern to our national security, the risk that Iran may soon obtain from firms in Russia and elsewhere the capability to produce its own medium- and long-range ballistic missiles.
Mr. Speaker, I introduced this legislation on October 23 of last year. Before we passed it by voice vote on November 12, it had over 240 House cosponsors, including both the Speaker, the gentleman from Georgia (Mr. Gingrich), and the Democratic leader, the gentleman from Missouri (Mr. Gephardt).
The urgency of this legislation is apparent from recent press reports. As a result of critical assistance from Russian firms, Iran is making steady progress in developing medium- and long-range ballistic missiles. Unless something happens soon, Iran will be able to produce its own medium-range missiles within less than a year.
If the assistance from Russia continues, Iran is soon going to be able to produce long-range ballistic missiles as well, which will threaten not only the stability of the Middle East region, but the entire European continent as well.
For more than a year, our government has been in constant dialogue with Russia about stopping their assistance. Thanks in large part to the pressure brought to bear by this very legislation that we are considering today, some progress has been achieved, at least on paper.
Most importantly, on January 22 of this year, the Prime Minister of Russia issued an executive decree tightening legal controls on Russian exports of missile technology. That decree gave the Russian Government the legal authority it needed to block the transfer of missile technology to Iran. But in the nearly 6 months since that decree was issued, it has become apparent that the Russian Government is not fully committed to implementing it.
The fact is that even though there has been progress in some areas, the overall picture remains very discouraging. The evidence suggested that at least some elements of the Russian Government continue to believe that the transfer of missile technology to Iran serves Russian interests.
We in the Congress cannot change the misguided foreign policy calculations of some Russian officials, but we can give Russian firms that are in a position to sell missile technology to Iran compelling reasons not to do so. That is the purpose of the legislation presently before us.
I submit to my colleagues, the sanctions which this legislation threatens to impose will force such firms in Russia and elsewhere to choose between short-term profits from dealing with Iran and potentially far more lucrative long-term economic relations with the United States.
To those who say that we should rely on the good faith of the Russian government rather than enacting this legislation, I respectfully submit that the Russian government has nothing to fear if it acts in good faith. It is only if Russia does not enforce its declared policy that they need fear any sanctions under this legislation.
In fact, enactment of H.R. 2709 will complement the administration's diplomatic efforts, and will provide a valuable enforcement mechanism to ensure that the actual behavior of Russian firms conforms to declared Russian policy.
Mr. Speaker, we passed H.R. 2709 by a voice vote on the suspension calendar. On November 12 of last year we sent it over to the Senate, and on May 22 of this year the Senate passed that legislation by a vote of 90 to 4.
The Senate also adopted two amendments which requires us to act on the measure once again. The Senate amendments are very straightforward. All they do, in effect, is insert a new effective date into the legislation. When we passed the bill last year our effective date was August 8, 1995, the date on which Russia joined the missile technology control regime.
I submit that the new effective date adopted by the Senate is January 22, 1998, the date of the new executive decree in Russia, and it has not made any other major changes. Because the House passed this legislation before that decree was issued, we naturally had a different effective date, but now that the Russian decree has been issued, I agree with the Senate that it provides an appropriate effective date for this legislation.
Accordingly, Mr. Speaker, I strongly support the Senate amendments, and I strongly urge the House to concur in them.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill. I am fully aware, of course, of how the votes will go in a few minutes, but I think it is important to set out the reasons in opposition to the bill. I hope it is agreed upon by all of us in this Chamber that we want to stop the transfer of missile technology to Iran. I want to do that. I know the supporters of the bill want to do that. I think the real question before us is not whether we want to stop the transfer of missile technology to Iran. We certainly do. The question really is the most effective way to achieve that goal.
I oppose this bill for three principal reasons.
First, the bill takes some hostages. The consideration of this bill has delayed for over a year another very important bill. The bill before us links a missile sanctions bill, H.R. 709, to the very important Senate-passed chemical weapons convention implementing legislation, S. 610. I believe the House should take S. 610 from the desk today and pass it so that it can be sent to the President for his signature.
Secondly, if enacted, this missile sanctions bill, in my view, will make it harder, not easier, for the United States to stop missile technology transfers from Russia to Iran.
Third, this bill is seriously flawed. Let me spell out my opposition in more detail.
First, this bill is holding up action, and has held it up, on the completion of implementing legislation on the chemical weapons convention. The Senate acted in May of 1997 on S. 610, the chemical weapons convention implementing legislation. That bill has been sitting at the House desk for over a year. By attaching it to this missile sanctions bill, the House has delayed action for over 1 year.
Because of that delay, the United States is now out of compliance with its obligations to the chemical weapons convention. It will continue to be out of compliance until this implementing legislation, S. 610, is enacted.
Without this legislation in place, the U.S. chemical industry has no legal basis for providing data to the United States government, as required under the convention. Without this data from industry, the United States has been unable to submit its industry declaration, as we are required to do under the convention.
The United States, then, is now in violation of its treaty obligations. I believe we are now in the second year of violation. If we are not in full compliance with the chemical weapons convention, the United States cannot use its substantial influence for full compliance by others. We cannot press other parties to live up to their treaty commitments until we live up to ours.
Our failure to complete action on implementing legislation provides excuses for other countries to avoid full compliance with the treaty. Out of the 110 treaty members, some 28 have failed to submit information required under the treaty on their chemical industries. We give comfort to those in Russia, China, and Iran, and elsewhere who want to slip out of treaty compliance when we ourselves do not comply.
So we should not act on this bill. We should take from the House desk and pass today S. 610 so that the President can sign it, so that the United States will be in compliance with a treaty to eliminate chemical weapons.
Secondly, I believe, as I have indicated, that the Congress and the executive branch share the same policy goal. Everybody in this Chamber wants to stop the transfer of missile technology to Iran. The question before us is the most effective way to achieve that shared goal. Stopping the transfer of missile technology to Iran requires cooperation between the United States and Russia and the United States and its allies. The United States cannot stop the transfer of missile technology to Iran without cooperation.
The administration, from the President on down, including every senior official on the national security team, has spent a great deal of time and effort over the past 10 months working to stop Russian missile technology transfers to Iran. Important progress has been made through cooperation.
The Russian government has issued repeated, authoritative statements at the highest levels in opposition to the proliferation of weapons and the technologies of mass destruction. President Yeltsin is committed to stopping these transfers.
On January 22 the Russian Prime Minister issued a catch-all export control decree. That decree empowers Russian authorities to stop any technology transfer to an end user that is developing weapons of mass destruction. Regulations have been issued and the United States and Russia are working closely. Iranians involved in weapons programs have been expelled from Russia. Russian authorities are more vigorous in monitoring suspicious individuals and companies.
Of the 13 cases of concern to us, there has been significant positive action on half of the cases. This cooperative approach is not perfect, but it is producing results. If this bill is enacted, cooperation and results will diminish.
On the remaining cases that are before us, clearly more needs to be done. The administration is convinced that more can be done. National Security Advisor Berger has established an important dialogue with his Russian counterpart, Kokoshin. The problem the United States faces today is not Soviet power, it is Russian weakness. The government of Russia cannot collect enough taxes, pay its soldiers on time, or, in the immediate problem before us, enforce effective export controls.
In March, the United States and Russia set up a working group on export controls. That group met in April. We have in this country long experience on export controls, and we are now sharing that expertise with Russia. We are giving briefings, we are providing advice, we are reviewing their regulations and procedures. We are helping Russia to establish a process that is transparent and that is consistent with international norms.
Right now Russian officials and representatives from the electronics industry are in the United States taking an export control workshop. Next, we will train Russians from the aerospace industry. The Russians welcome more export control assistance, and we are willing to provide more assistance. There is no way to build an effective export control system in Russia other than working with Russians to build that system.
Sanctions will not solve proliferation problems with Russia. Cooperation, close cooperation of our export control experts with their officials, offers the best handle to get at this problem. Russian leaders can say and do all the right things about stopping missile transfers to Iran, but it will take an effective export control system to turn those words into actions. Helping Russia develop that export control system I believe is in the American national interest.
The question we need to ask is whether we will make more progress with Russia by going ahead with this
sanctions bill now. The threat of sanctions I agree has been helpful in focusing Russian attention and getting Russian cooperation. But when this bill is passed tonight, it goes directly to the President. The enactment of this bill and the applications of the sanctions will be harmful. It will mean less Russian cooperation, not more. That is, of course, not my view alone. It is the view of the President, the Vice President, the National Security Advisor, and the Secretary of State.
It is also the view of senior Israeli officials, who recently visited at the White House with congressional leaders, as we just heard from the minority leader a moment ago. Israeli officials see this bill as useful pressure, but they are content to wait for a number of weeks. They see a new government in Moscow. They want to give the new Russian team some time, and give them a chance to carry out their commitments. They are not pressing for action on this bill now.
Third, this missile sanctions bill I believe has several serious flaws. The bill establishes too low a threshold for the imposition of sanctions. It would require the President to report and impose sanctions based on credible information it receives about transfers or attempted transfers of missile-related goods and technology to Iran.
`Credible information' is not defined in the bill, and is subject to broad interpretation. One report or one phone call could trigger a requirement to report and impose sanctions. This credible information standard in this bill is unprecedented in nonproliferation sanctions laws. It would require sanctions even when information later proves inaccurate.
Every sanction law currently on the books leaves the evidentiary determination of sanctions to the executive. The executive historically has applied a high evidentiary standard. That standard is high because of the serious consequences of an error. An error would harm U.S. industry and it would harm our nonproliferation policy. Sanctions imposed in error could needlessly damage U.S. credibility with other governments and our efforts to prevent Iran from obtaining missile technology.
What is missing from this bill is any balancing of judgment. This bill has no requirement for weighing evidence. It has no requirement for the preponderance of evidence. On any complicated issue, there is bound to be conflicting information. There will be credible information pointing one direction and credible information pointing another.
But the bill allows for no judgment. One single bad report could trigger sanctions. The bill has no requirement that actions subject to sanctions be taken knowingly. Sanctions would be imposed on entities unaware that items are going to Iran or will be used in missiles. Such a provision is fundamentally unfair and will undermine U.S. credibility and the willingness of foreign entities to cooperate with the United States.
The bill sanctions U.S. subsidiaries of foreign firms, whether or not they participated in or were even aware of a transaction. The bill's standard for a waiver, essential to the national security interest of the United States, is a very high standard. It does not give the President sufficient flexibility to carry out his responsibilities under the Constitution for the conduct of American foreign policy.
Mr. Speaker, I believe this bill will have a strong negative impact on the American national interest. It will slow down our ability to get to the President a bill that he will sign so that we can meet our treaty obligations under the Chemical Weapons Convention. It will lead to less, not more, cooperation from Russia on stopping the transfer of missile technology to Iran.
Sanctions will not stop Russian firms from dealing with Iran. Some Russian firms are beyond the reach of U.S. sanctions. All of them are beyond the ability of the United States to control. Only the Russian Government can stop Russian firms from dealing with Iran.
Sanctions put at risk all the cooperation we have made working with the Russian Government to stop missile transfers to Iran. Russia's leaders agree with us. They are working with us. They have made some progress, but not enough progress. They say they want to make more progress. If we now turn around and sanction them, we put at risk all the progress we have made in stopping missile technology transfers.
The bill will also harm overall United States-Russia relations. The Duma is moving forward this month with hearings on START II treaty ratification. Russia is in the middle of a financial crisis. We should be sending a signal of support for Russia's actions in support of arms control and financial reform. So this bill sends the wrong signal to the Russian Duma and to financial markets. We send a chilling signal that will harm our own interests.
Mr. Speaker, I close by quoting the administration's statement of policy. `The administration strongly opposes H.R. 2709, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act of 1997. The President's senior advisors would recommend that the President veto H.R. 2709, if it is presented to him in its current form. H.R. 2709 would not improve the ability of the United States to halt the transfer of missile technology to Iran. On the contrary, H.R. 2709 would weaken the U.S. ability to persuade the international community to halt such transfers to Iran. The bill's broad scope, retroactivity, and indiscriminate sanctions would undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals and objectives.' End of quotation.
Mr. Speaker, I urge a `no' vote.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to clarify one of the gentleman's statements. I want to respond to the suggestion that we hold back on this bill because of the alleged position of the Israeli Government. The fact of the matter is that passing this bill is important to American national security and to the security of all nations in the region and beyond it.
Because of the concerns that we have heard, and I have discussed this matter with the leaders of the Israeli Government, I wanted to be clear about the position of the Israeli Government at the current time. My staff spoke to Mr. Yitzhak Oren, Minister for Congressional Affairs, and we spoke just an hour ago to Uzi Arad, political advisor to the Prime Minister. They informed us that the Israeli Government has taken the following position, and I quote: `We felt that it was worthwhile to give more time for consultations; however, it is our view just like Americans, that what the Russians are doing is cover-up, which we view with serious concern. The problem here is that the Russian companies are violating Russian law. And since the Russians are unable to enforce their own law, we feel that it will be helpful to act in other effective ways.'
So, Mr. Speaker, it would be my conclusion that if someone believes the Israeli Government is now requesting a delay, I believe that is a mistaken impression.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. GILMAN. I yield to the gentleman from Indiana.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, let me just say to the gentleman that the precise statement we have from the Government of Israel's embassy in this town, and I quote it now, `It is not the clear position of the Government of Israel to pass this bill now.' End of quote.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, reclaiming my time, we just spoke within the past hour and I just quoted his statement.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, if the gentleman would again yield, the gentleman's statement that he just quoted said they wanted more consultation. That is precisely the point that the minority leader said and I agree it.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, again reclaiming my time, that was previous to this evening. Now they say they prefer we go ahead. They will have 3 weeks from the time we pass the measure, it goes to the President, the President vetoes it, it comes back here. There are 3 weeks of additional time which should be sufficient time.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 5 minutes to the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Weldon), the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on Research and Development of our Committee on National Security.
(Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)
Mr. WELDON of Pennsylvania. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman) for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I respect the distinguished gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Hamilton), ranking member, although I strongly disagree with him. The ranking member is correct. We should not have to have this bill on the floor of this body today. But let us for a moment stop and think about why we are here.
Mr. Speaker, what we have had over the pattern of the past 6 years, and even beyond that into the ending of the last administration, was a pattern of not enforcing arms control agreements. That is what this whole debate is about. If our bilateral relationship is based on arms control agreements, then we have to enforce them when violations occur.
It was just 3 years ago, Mr. Speaker, that we saw the case where the Russians were transferring guidance systems to Iraq. In fact, Mr. Speaker, I would like to hold up two devices because this is what we are talking about. We are not talking about some paper debate or discussion. We are talking about devices that can harm the American people and our friends and our allies.
Mr. Chairman, this is an accelerometer and this is a gyroscope. These were both manufactured in the former Soviet Union. In fact, they were taken from, SSN-18s, Mr. Speaker. And, Mr. Speaker, on three occasions, Russian entities sent these devices to Iraq.
Now, why is that important to us? Mr. Speaker, the largest loss of American life in our military in this decade was when 28 young Americans were killed by the Scud missiles. What do these devices do? They give the Scud missile pinpoint accuracy. What did the administration do when they found out this violation occurred three times? Not once, but three times? They said: We will convince Russia that they should not do it again.
Mr. Speaker, last fall the Russians quietly ended the criminal investigation of this transfer. No charges were brought. No criminal proceedings were started, and the entire technology transfer took place. We then have to deal with the consequences.
Last summer, Mr. Speaker, we saw again Russia transfer technology; this time, technology to allow Iran to build a medium-range missile that will hit Israel and 25,000 of our troops from any place within Iran. We caught them dead in the water. We asked the administration to take action. To this date, no sanctions have been imposed.
Now, what do we have to do? This body passed legislation, with the other body, authorizing and appropriating 180 million additional dollars this year that could have gone for other purposes, to defend Israel, our Arab friends, and our troops against that Iranian missile proliferation. There is a real dollar that we have to pay because we could not control proliferation.
But the reason for this bill today is not just these instances. I did a floor speech 3 weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, and I documented in the Record 38 consecutive occasions of arms control violations in 6 years by China and by Russia to Iran, Iraq, to India and Pakistan. This administration imposed sanctions three times out of 38 and waived all three of those sanctions.
Do we wonder why we have a problem in the Middle East? Do we wonder why India and Pakistan are sabre rattling? Do we wonder why Iran and Iraq have medium-range capability now that threaten our allies? This is not about tweaking Boris Yeltsin or the Russian Government. If America has a company that violates our export laws and sends technology overseas, I want to prosecute that company. I want to make them pay.
What is wrong with our country saying to Russia if they have an entity that is proliferating technology, that entity must pay? We are not against the Russian Government. We are not trying to back Boris Yeltsin into the corner.
Mr. Speaker, I formed and I chair the Congressional Dialogue with the State Duma. I hosted eight of those leaders in this city 3 weeks ago, headed by the first deputy speaker. We are not about tweaking the Russian leadership. We want to work with them. I proposed, along with the gentleman from North Carolina (Mr. Taylor) a new housing mortgage financing mechanism. We are working with them to bring new economic development into that country. I want to empower the State Duma and we want to bring new markets into Russia. But we cannot tolerate this.
This administration has got to understand if the basis of bilateral relations is arms control, then we have to enforce those agreements. And if we cannot enforce those agreements, then they mean nothing. Our soldiers were killed in Saudi Arabia, 28 of them, young men and women, because of a Scud missile attack. They now have enhanced capability because of Russian technology. The Iranians will have that capability within 12 months.
Are we going to wait until Israelis are dead, until more Americans are killed, and then say we should take some action? I wish we were not here today. But unfortunately, because of this administration's lack of adherence to arms control agreements, we are where we are and this agreement needs to be passed.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Berman).
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 1 minute to the gentleman from California (Mr. Berman).
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I agree with the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Hamilton) on the question of timing. I agree with the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman), the chairman of the Committee on International Relations, on the merits of the bill.
Mr. Speaker, one cannot make the case that U.S. national interests are served by bringing up this bill this evening rather than 3 weeks from now when the security advisor of the Russian President is coming here next week, when the Senate majority leader held up a vote on this bill in the Senate for over 5 months in an effort to encourage the diplomatic pressure, and then say today is the day that U.S. national interests compel a vote on this bill. I would suggest it is political interests, not national interests.
But the fact is that the leadership decides when a bill is brought up. This bill is now before us. We are going to go to a vote on this bill and this bill is worthy of this body's support, and I urge its passage.
Mr. Speaker, this legislation sends an important signal to anyone considering assistance to Iran's medium- and long-range missile program. Iran is designing missiles with a range of 930 to 1,250 miles and may even be working on a multistage intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of 3,500 miles. How long will it take Iran to attain this capability? Some estimate as soon as 1999 for the shorter-range missiles.
They may have a new President. They might want to get rid of all the baggage between our two countries. They may want to promote cultural exchanges. They may want to increase dialogue with the United States, with its academics and with its people.
The Government of Iran persists in its pursuit of weapons of mass destruction. Nothing about the election in Iran has changed that practice. Nothing about the statements of its new leadership has indicated any effort to move in a different direction. The more sophisticated assistance Iran receives from abroad, the quicker it will realize its goal. We must stop this now.
More than 2 years ago Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Robert Pelletreau testified that only by imposing a real and heavy price can we and other countries convince the Iranian leadership that changing its threatening behavior is in Iran's own interest.
The administration claims that this legislation would weaken our ability to persuade other countries to halt assistance. But this legislation, as amended by the Senate to change its effective date from August 1995 to January 1998, comports with the administration's claims of success in convincing Russia to prevent dangerous exports.
January 22nd is the day the Russian Government issued a decree tightening export controls on goods and services that could advance missile and weapons of mass destruction programs. The Clinton administration officials say they have raised 13 cases of concern with Moscow and are pleased with Russian progress in about half of them. More needs to be done. The administration views this legislation as reinforcing its effort to persuade countries to cut off all aid to the Iranian missile program and to enforce export controls.
Language has improved this bill; language we suggested in committee was included. There remains some concerns regarding the definition of credible information. It is my expectation that the administration would employ its rigorous standards in determining what constitutes credible information.
The administration is also concerned that the bill's standard of sanctionable activity is not tied to any definition of knowing and that companies could be sanctioned for unintentional transfers. Given the types of equipment and technology involved, it strikes me as unlikely that many companies will be unaware of the potential end users of the exports. And while some companies may be unaware of the end users of the exports, ignorance should not be an excuse.
The companies that sell this technology, these items, must know who the end users are, and if they do not, they should be sanctioned. We should not be required to prove some difficult intent standard when we thereby will promote recklessness, head-in-the-sand behavior, a lack of thorough efforts to check who the end users are. We need to do everything we can to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the development of delivery systems.
Sometimes this is a lonely fight in which few of our allies wish to join us. For them short-term economic gain outweighs long-term peace. We should not sacrifice our honorable objectives to their selfish ends, for in the end we will all pay too high a price for failing to be vigilant. I urge my colleagues to vote for this important bill.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 4 minutes to the gentleman from California (Mr. Cunningham).
Mr. CUNNINGHAM. Mr. Speaker, it is an interesting debate, I think, from two different positions. I think the term `the administration's national security advisors' is an oxymoron, that if you take a look at the history that that is based on, those advisors, I think you would fire them.
First of all, you take a look at the failed policies of an extended Somalia. Guess what? Aideed's son is still there. Billions of dollars in lost people in Haiti that could have stayed there for another 200 years and not been a threat, and guess what, Aristide is still there, and they still have the neckties. You look at Bosnia, arming the Muslims with Izetbegovic, and guess what, there is over 12,000 Mujahedin and Hamas there. If we ever pull out of there, it is going to be a tremendous disaster because then it is going to be Izetbegovic's forces.
`Expert control system' I think is another oxymoron. How do you define sanctions? What is too much to stop someone from shipping? I would think just a shipping company shipping AK-47s into California would stop us from using a shipping company. That same shipping company that ships chemical and biological weapons to Iran, Iraq and Syria, I would think that would be enough to sanction them and stop them. But, no, this administration wants to give them a former Navy security base right in the heart of California. Guess what? This same company just last week, shipping chemical nuclear weapons to Pakistan. Is that enough to bring on sanctions? No. So that is why I think that when we talk about export control system of the White House, it is an oxymoron.
Let us take a look at the Russian missile technology gone to Iran and Iraq. My colleague, the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Weldon), spoke of the technology that has gone to actually kill our friends. I have a business in my district. The gentleman invited me to a picnic. He was delighted to introduce me to a Russian scientist. That Russian scientist built and developed the SA-2 missiles that shot me down in Vietnam. But yet Russia is giving further technology to all of our allies, and yet that is not enough to have sanctions. Russia today is building, Mr. Speaker, a first strike nuclear site under the Ural Mountains. Why? The Cold War is over. They have one half its size to the northeast. But yet we need to just talk to them.
I say it is time that we do not walk softly and carry a big stick of candy, Mr. Speaker, because that is the White House's foreign policy, walk softly and carry a big stick of candy. Peace comes through strength. And can we engage Russia and China? Yes. Can we deal with them through business? Yes. But you need to hold them at arm's length, and you have to talk from a position of strength, not a position of candy.
I think unless we engage them with a dialogue that the gentleman is talking about, I think that is very healthy, but there is also time to draw a line in the sand, and we have not done that, Mr. Speaker. It is time. It is time now. It is always wait. It is always wait.
The worst thing, Mr. Speaker, at the same time we allow Russia and China to sell mass destructive weapons of chemical and biological and nuclear weapons and missile technology to foreign countries, we give it to them, we give it to them with Loral. I say, I ask you, what kind of policy is that? It is a failed policy, Mr. Speaker. We need to do something about it now, and we need to pass this bill.
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentlewoman from California (Ms. Harman).
(Ms. HARMAN asked and was given permission to revise and extend her remarks.)
Ms. HARMAN. Mr. Speaker, I do not believe that sanctions are the perfect foreign policy tool, and I wish we did not have to resort to legislating sanctions today.
Unfortunately, however, we can do no less. Many good points have been made in this debate, and I do not want to repeat them, but let me identify several that I do not think have been stressed adequately.
First of all, the administration has been negotiating on this issue for over 14 months. We have had visits and consultations and briefings and high level ambassadors and conversations between the President and President Yeltsin and Vice President and former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin and so forth. Yet all we have really had is talk leading to talk. Talk needs to lead to action.
Second, we have evidence that proliferation continues and that it may even be increasing.
Third, we know that Russia, and this has been mentioned, has implemented a new executive decree in January which gives it added authority to crack down on those who transfer technology. It has not used this authority. In fact, in a case that the gentleman from Pennsylvania (Mr. Weldon) mentioned of technology transfers to Iraq, it specifically disregarded the fact that gyroscopes were transferred, called them scrap metal and took no action. So Russia is specifically failing to act even with new executive authority.
Fourth, the United States already has adequate authority to act. In fact Vice President Gore, when he was a member of the other body, authored that authority, and yet the administration has failed to use it even with a concurrent resolution passed by both houses last fall, of which I was one of the authors, directing it to use that authority.
So finally we come to this, the necessity to pass stronger legislation. I would point out, as we do this, and I predict we will do it by an overwhelming margin in just a moment, I would point out to the administration that there is still time in the intervening weeks between passing this bill and action that may be taken to override a veto, should the President make one, to get the administration to act and/or to get the Russian Government to act. We need action; we need these transfers stopped. There is time to do this. If the negotiations are ever to conclude, they should conclude now.
We might view this bill as an opportunity. The Congress is taking this action so that the administration has no choice but to act and to cause our ally Russia to act as well. These transfers must stop now, or Israel, our allies in the region and our troops are at risk.
Mr. Speaker, with the world still reeling from the explosion of nuclear devices by India and Pakistan, we must stand firm on our commitment to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Let's send a strong signal of our commitment to nonproliferation. Let's pass H.R. 3709 as amended.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentlewoman for her supporting remarks with regard to this measure.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. McIntosh).
Mr. McINTOSH. Mr. Speaker, George Washington, our Nation's greatest military commander, said the most effective means of preserving peace is to prepare for war. Now, unfortunately, that is exactly what we must do today. There are those who say, let us pretend, let us pretend that if we do not defend ourselves against this missile threat from Saddam Hussein and others, that it simply won't happen. How novel, how naive.
I believe that the U.S. must diligently prepare to meet and repel any threat from any source from enemies around the world, and this includes protecting our U.S. troops and our allies from the threat of Iranian missile attack in the Gulf region.
We learned last summer, that has been debated today, that the Russians have helped the Iranians speed up the development and deployment of a missile capable of reaching U.S. troops. We have to act immediately. We know from the Gulf War that our troops are threatened by these. In fact, we lost more American lives because of a Scud missile than any other reason in the Gulf War. Israel also suffered from barbarous Scud attacks. Therefore I urge this House to learn from the tragic lessons of that war. Move to protect our brave men and women. Move to protect our allies. Support H.R. 2709.
This bipartisan bill imposes sanctions on entities that are aiding efforts by Iran to build a missile program that threatens our troops and our critical allies like Israel in the Gulf. I thank the gentleman for bringing this bill. I urge all of my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to support this effort.
Mr. BERMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to gentleman from New Jersey (Mr. Menendez).
Mr. MENENDEZ. Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act. This legislation closes loopholes that allow countries to export sensitive technology to Iran. And because of these exports, in short order, within 1 year, Iran may achieve long-range missile capacity.
Opponents of the bill characterize it as just another sanctions bill. In reality what we are doing is providing Russian and Chinese firms with incentives not to trade with Iran.
Those who see a new Iran in President Khatemi are being led astray by conciliatory words while Iran continues to seek weapons of mass destruction, including long-range missiles, nuclear weapons to top those missiles, and chemical and biological warfare agents. President Khatemi may be the hope, but at present he does not have the power. Iran continues to support international terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad. It is a rogue state. We would be naive to sacrifice our own security and the security of allies based on a few conciliatory words.
Late last year satellite reconnaissance of a research facility not far south of Tehran had picked up the heat signature of an engine test for a new generation of Iranian ballistic missiles, each capable of carrying a 2,200-pound warhead more than 800 miles, within strategic range of our ally Israel. In January a senior Clinton administration official told the Associated Press that Iran's purchase of Russian missile technology is giving Iran an opportunity to leap ahead in developing new weapons.
That is why I have introduced the Iran nuclear proliferation provision which I think is a companion ultimately to this bill.
Tehran's unrelenting quest for nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles clearly attests that the clerical regime has no intention of moderating its behavior. Appeasement by the West will only provide the mullahs with more room to maneuver. We need a comprehensive policy that both protects us from the current threat and safeguards our future interests in that part of the world. I urge my colleagues to be strongly supportive of this bill.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from California (Mr. Campbell), a member of our committee.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. Speaker, I would like to engage the distinguished former chairman and ranking Democrat in a debate in at least the second half of my 3 minutes, because I believe that the bill does offer adequate protection of the concerns that the gentleman from Indiana had expressed. The bill provides a waiver of all sanctions if the President determines in the circumstances the individual suspected of transferring the technology in fact did not do so. That is under section 4. Then under section 5, the President has authority to grant a waiver on the basis of national security. As I read section 4, the President would be essentially making a judgment based on all the evidence, we attorneys might call it on a preponderance of evidence, that this transfer actually did not happen. And then the actual waiver as well as the underlying determination can be made in secret, it can be made in confidential form, in classified form, according to an amendment that was added to the bill between committee and when it came to the floor, and I refer to section 2(d) of the bill that all submissions can be made in classified form. So given that, I do not see the potential for embarrassment of U.S. foreign policy.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, will the gentleman yield?
Mr. CAMPBELL. I yield to the gentleman from Indiana.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding. I think we have to look at two things here. One is the imposition of the sanctions. With the imposition of the sanctions, you have a very, very low standard. All you have to find is credible information. You can have a mountain of information on the other side, but if you have any credible information, the sanctions apply. At the same time that you have a very low threshold on the sanctions, you have a very high threshold with regard to the waiver, and it is a national security interest waiver.
In talking with people on White House staffs, not just with this administration but in the past, finding a national security interest is not always easy. That is a very high standard. The gentleman is right, it does give the President discretion there on the waiver, but not on the sanction.
Mr. CAMPBELL. Mr. Speaker, the waiver, though, to which I was addressing my remarks was section 4, not section 5. The gentleman responded referring to the national security waiver in section 5 arguing that that was a high standard, and he may well be right. Section 4, however, allows the President to waive the imposition, and I am reading it, where the President is persuaded that the person did not, and then it goes on, actually transfer. So in the hypothetical that the gentleman from Indiana gives us where there is credible evidence that the transfer did take place but to use his own words a mountain of evidence the other way, well, surely then the President would waive on the basis of additional information under section 4.
I have the highest regard for the gentleman from Indiana or I would not have engaged in this discussion. If he has concerns, then I have concerns, but I believe the concerns are more than adequately taken care of in the draft with reference particularly to section 4.
Mr. HAMILTON. If the gentleman will yield further, I think the imposition of the sanctions creates huge problems in and of itself regardless of what the President's action may be. The mere imposition of the sanctions is going to trigger the reaction in Russia.
Mr. CAMPBELL. That submission can be made confidentially, not in public. I support the bill.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the distinguished gentleman from New York (Mr. Engel).
Mr. ENGEL. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Indiana for yielding me this time, and I rise in strong support of the legislation.
Mr. Speaker, the House Action Reports just this week state very clearly that last year both U.S. and Israeli intelligence reports revealed a significant technology transfer between Russia and Iran. Successive reports detailed contracts signed between numerous Russian entities and Iran's Defense Industries Organization to help produce liquid-fueled ballistic missiles. These enhanced missiles are expected to have a range of 1,300 to 2,000 kilometers, well within the range of Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf region. There is a wide consensus within the intelligence community that Iranian ballistic missile development has proceeded much more rapidly than expected. The Director of the CIA recently testified that while last year he offered the assessment that Iran would have medium range ballistic missiles within 10 years, he now believes the timetable to be much shorter, and Israeli officials say it could happen by 1999.
Many experts are saying that with Russia's cash-strapped technical institutes and research facilities eager to sell to Iranian weapons purchasers, Russia's effective adherence to the obligations of the Missile Technology Control Regime is open to serious question. I think U.S. relations with Russia are very, very important but frankly I am tired of the role that Russia has played in transferring technology to Iran. They are playing a destructive role there, they are playing a destructive role in the whole situation in Kosovo with the Albanians and I think the Russians ought to really understand that there is a limit to how much patience we have. I support this legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I want to also say that I am very concerned about Syria as well, that the Israeli Defense Minister says that Syria is continuing to develop all these kinds of strategic surface-to-surface missiles, and that of greater concern is that Syria is developing these capabilities with the aid of North Korean know-how and Russian raw materials. It is these technologies and material transfers on which the bill before the House focuses today.
I just wanted to say to the chairman of the committee that I would hope that the committee would be willing in the future to consider the issue of proliferation of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction in Syria as it considers such other issues in the Middle East.
Mr. HAMILTON. Mr. Speaker, I have no further requests for time, and I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Speaker, in response to the comments of the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. Hamilton), let me just emphasize that the credible information requirement of this bill is intended to be a very low evidentiary standard. We have adopted this low evidentiary standard because of our dissatisfaction with the way the evidentiary standard contained in other counter-proliferation laws has been applied.
There is no reason not to impose the sanctions provided by this bill on foreign persons about whom there is credible information that they may have made a transfer or attempted transfer covered by the bill. The three sanctions that this bill would impose upon such persons, prohibitions on providing U.S. assistance, exporting arms, or exporting dual-use commodities to such persons, are all matters within the sole discretion of our Government.
No one has any right to receive U.S. assistance. Since our foreign aid resources are limited, decisions have to be made every day about who should receive our assistance and who should be denied our assistance. This bill basically directs that in any case where there is any doubt about whether a potential recipient of U.S. assistance has transferred or attempted to transfer missile technology, that person will be denied U.S. assistance. The administration may believe we are being too harsh with this approach, but in fact they would have a hard time explaining to our Members why we should provide limited U.S. foreign assistance funds to persons who we suspect may have made or attempted to make improper transfers of missile technology.
I submit the same is true with regard to exports of arms and dual-use commodities. No one has a right to receive such exports from our Nation, and, as a matter of national policy, we seek to deny such exports to foreign persons who cannot be trusted with U.S. arms or dual-use commodities. Why should the President not be required to deny such exports to persons who we suspect may have made or attempted to make improper transfers of missile technology?
I submit to my colleagues that it is time we stop the spread of missile technology to Iran. Let us prohibit foreign aid to suspected missile proliferators, and let us prevent arms sales to suspected missile proliferators. Vote `yes' on the Senate amendments to H.R. 2709.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Burr of North Carolina). All time for debate has expired.
Pursuant to House Resolution 457, the previous question is ordered.
The question is on the motion offered by the gentleman from New York (Mr. Gilman).
The question was taken; and the Speaker pro tempore announced that the ayes appeared to have it.
Mr. GILMAN. Mr. Speaker, I object to the vote on the ground that a quorum is not present and make the point of order that a quorum is not present.
The SPEAKER pro tempore. Evidently a quorum is not present.
The Sergeant at Arms will notify absent Members.
Without objection, the Chair will reduce to 5 minutes the minimum time for electronic voting on each of the motions to suspend the rules that were postponed earlier today, provided that those proceedings resume as pending business immediately after this 15-minute vote.
There was no objection.
The vote was taken by electronic device, and there were--yeas 392, nays 22, answered `present' 3, not voting 16, as follows:
Messrs. RAHALL, CONYERS, DOOLEY of California, JEFFERSON, YATES and MORAN of Kansas and Ms. HOOLEY of Oregon changed their vote from `yea' to `nay.'
So the motion was agreed to.
The result of the vote was announced as above recorded.
A motion to reconsider was laid on the table.