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Bob Goodlatte: Working for peace in the Middle East

The situation in the Middle East is exceedingly complex and instability continues to pose a threat to our security and the security of the entire global community. With an enhanced security threat from Iran, escalating violence in Syria and the Palestinian government’s alliance with the terrorist group Hamas, it is increasingly important that the United States stand firmly with our ally Israel.

Since Israel declared its independence in 1948, the U.S. has developed a positive relationship with Israel based on democratic values and security interests and we want to work to continue this valuable relationship. We must never forget that Israel and the U.S. share many common interests. That is why it is important that the U.S. stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Israel as it faces the most serious threat to its existence it has ever encountered since its founding, the threat from a nuclear Iran.

Last week, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrived at the United Nations and delivered the sort of pathological rant that we have come to expect from him. Heaping blame for the world’s problems exclusively on America and our ally Israel, and spewing some of the most vile anti-Semitic rhetoric in recent times, the Iranian leader made clear that he had no intention of halting his country’s illicit nuclear activities.

Iran has made rapid advancements in its nuclear program and shows no sign of slowing down. According to the latest report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, Iran has enriched more than 15,000 pounds of low-enriched uranium – enough to build five nuclear bombs. Furthermore, Iran has repeatedly attempted to conceal its activities by relocating key facilities and removing power lines and roads.

We must present Iran with a clear choice: either halt your nuclear activities or face the devastation of the Iranian economy. That is why I have consistently voted in support of crippling sanctions on Iran, a key part of our diplomatic arsenal. In fact, just a few weeks ago, the House passed and President signed into law the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, which constitutes one of the toughest sanctions law Congress has ever passed.

While sanctions have clearly affected the Iranian economy, they have not yet persuaded Iran to halt its nuclear activities. At the same time, the Obama administration has yet to enforce many of the sanctions that are already on the books. This must change if we hope to resolve the crisis peacefully and stop Iran before it is too late.

This process will not be easy, and it comes with no guarantee of success but we must remain steadfast in our pursuit of peace in the Middle East. As long as Iran continues to advance their nuclear program they are a threat to Israel, our greatest ally in the Middle East, and a threat to the United States.

Bob Goodlatte represents the Sixth District in the United States Congress.

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