America Proud to Be Israel’s Ally

“I am eager to work with the White House and my colleagues across the aisle to provide the American people and our allies abroad with the assurance that Iran will not be allowed to arm itself with a nuclear weapon.” – Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.)

WASHINGTON, D.C.—U.S. Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, delivered the following remarks on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress (remarks as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, this morning we were fortunate enough to hear Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu address a joint meeting of Congress. 

“I was disappointed that the vice president and a number of Democrat members of Congress chose not to attend this event.

“They missed a powerful speech, and they missed an opportunity to demonstrate America’s commitment to our strongest ally, Israel.

“In his speech before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee yesterday, Prime Minister Netanyahu spoke about Israel’s alliance with the United States to, as he put it, ‘defend our common civilization against common threats.’

“He spoke of the, and I quote, ‘values that unite us … values like liberty, equality, justice, tolerance, compassion.’

“Mr. President, these are the values that unite us, and they are the values that both our nations are committed to defend.

“In an area of the world where respect for liberty and equality is often nonexistent, Israel stands up for these most essential principles.

“America is proud to be her ally.

“Mr. President, the prime minister spoke this morning about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran.

“I scarcely need to enumerate the reasons why Iran’s possessing a nuclear weapon is such a dangerous prospect.

“First and foremost, Iran is a state sponsor of terrorism.

“That rather bureaucratic phrase obscures the full horror of what it signifies – that Iran’s government helps advance the activities of those who have made violence their mission and have kept millions of ordinary men, women, and children in the Middle East from living in stability and peace.

“Iran has fomented hostility toward the state of Israel, and its leaders have publicly stated a desire to wipe the entire nation of Israel off the map.

“And as Iran spreads violence and oppression abroad, it also uses the same tactics against its people at home.

“Iran’s government is hostile to freedom of any kind, whether it be freedom of speech or freedom of religion, and thousands of its own citizens have been tortured, imprisoned, and executed for daring to stand up for their human rights. 

“Keeping such a regime from developing a nuclear weapon must be a priority.

“Unfortunately, since November of 2013, when the Obama administration first reached an interim nuclear agreement with Iran, all we have seen from negotiations are delays and extensions while Iran has received an easing of sanctions.

“We hear it repeated that ‘no deal is better than a bad deal,’ yet while Israel has made it clear that an agreement which recognizes Iran’s ‘right to enrich’ uranium is unacceptable, our own administration has yet to clearly state what a good deal would look like.

“When the Senate made efforts to set out the parameters for an acceptable final agreement by introducing the bipartisan Nuclear-Free Iran Act of 2015, which I co-sponsored, the president announced he would veto such a bill, without even waiting to see what it would look like after being fully debated and amended. 

“Last week, two of my colleagues introduced the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015, which would give Congress 60 days to approve or disapprove any final agreement.

“It will be telling if the president threatens to veto this bill as well. 

“It is essential that any final agreement on Iran’s nuclear capability be acceptable to the American people, and congressional review is therefore indispensable.

“I am eager to work with the White House and my colleagues across the aisle to provide the American people and our allies abroad with the assurance that Iran will not be allowed to arm itself with a nuclear weapon.

“However, I’m concerned that if the president continues his go-it-alone approach, Americans may not like the deal that emerges.”