The SPEAKER pro tempore (Mr. Blunt). Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Frost) is recognized for 5 minutes.
Mr. FROST. Mr. Speaker, I rise to join my colleague, the gentleman from California, in support of H.R. 2709, the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act, and to urge the President to sign this most important legislative initiative.
This is an important proposal that seeks to protect United States national security interests in the Middle East by stemming the flow of missile technology and expertise to Iran. While the administration may have objections to several of the sanctions imposed by the bill, I would submit that the President's authority to make foreign policy is protected in the bill by granting him the authority to waive those sanctions under specific circumstances.
Mr. Speaker, this proposal is especially important since intelligence reports show if Iran succeeds in its efforts to acquire weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them, within a year it could have the indigenous capability to begin assembly and testing of ballistic missiles capable of hitting Israel, other targets in the Middle East, as well as parts of Europe and Asia.
Mr. Speaker, Iran already possesses chemical weapons and is intensely working toward acquiring biological and nuclear weapons capability. These are dangerous trends, Mr. Speaker, and the United States must take action to stop these developments.
What is troubling is that technology and expertise has come to Iran from foreign companies, primarily, but not exclusively, Russian companies. In previous years, China and North Korea provided this assistance; today, Russian companies are providing highly advanced technology. In fact, Mr. Speaker, U.S. military intelligence reports, reports that have been publicly cited, have indicated that Russian entities signed contracts this year to help produce liquid-fueled ballistics missiles, such as the SS-4.
In addition, there have been sales of Russian high technology laser equipment and negotiations between the Russians and Iran for other supplies for the manufacture of missiles as well as the construction of the wind tunnels necessary to test the missiles.
Mr. Speaker, some 9,000 scientists, engineers and technicians from the former Soviet Union are currently in Iran as advisors. Some of these experts are teaching subjects ranging from missile guidance systems to firing circuitry and pyrotechnics of explosive systems. Others are aiding in the rebuilding of the Bushehr nuclear reactor, and the technical advice being given in this project could very well enhance Iran's capability to develop nuclear weapons.
Mr. Speaker, this flow of technology and expertise continues, in spite of the fact that in January of this year, then Russian Prime Minister Chernomyrdin issued a decree to restrict the export of dual-use technology. In addition, Russia is a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime, a volunteer arrangement among countries which share a common interest in arresting missile proliferation. Russia along with the 27 other signatory countries, which includes the United States, has agreed to participate in a regime which consists of common export guidelines applied to a common list of controlled items. But, Mr. Speaker, in spite of Russia's international commitments, Russian entities continue to provide this deadly technology to Iran.
So what is to be done, Mr. Speaker? There are currently sanction requirements in place for those companies which engage in this type of technology transfer. The Iran-Iraq Arms Nonproliferation Act of 1992 requires the President to sanction the governments of those countries who knowingly supply Iran or Iraq with advanced conventional weaponry or technology that contributes to their acquisition of weapons of mass destruction. These sanctions would suspend U.S. assistance to these governments, would suspend codevelopment and coproduction agreements, and would suspend military and dual-use technology agreements that might lead to the transfer of technology or weapons to either Iran or Iraq.
In addition, Mr. Speaker, the Arms Export Control Act and the Export Administration Act both require the imposition of sanctions on governments and entities that violate the Missile Technology Control Regime. Unfortunately, the administration has chosen not to apply the sanctions available in existing law, choosing rather to pursue diplomatic solutions. But, Mr. Speaker, it appears these diplomatic solutions have not cut off the flow of these dangerous technologies to a nation with whom we do not have diplomatic relations.
H.R. 2709 was introduced last fall to press for an end to Russian missile cooperation with Iran. The legislation would sanction any company involved in providing missile technology to Iran. These sanctions should provide the United States with a means to attack the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East, and, while we might find ourselves standing alone in this fight, it is a worthy stand for us to take. The Congress is on record as supporting this legislation. The bill has 271 cosponsors in the House and 82 cosponsors in the Senate, and passed both houses by an overwhelming bipartisan majority.
Mr. Speaker, if we stand alone in our willingness to stop the spread of death and destruction in the Middle East, then so be it. Our stand is morally correct and the administration should join with the Congress in supporting the imposition of sanctions on those who put financial gain ahead of peace.