Thursday, July 10, 2008

McCain Campaign Conference Call On Barack Obama's Iran Statements

" Let me just start by saying I think the Iranian test today shows the great threat that we face and that, once again, Senator Obama's words don't match his actions. He said he's in favor of tougher sanctions on Iran, but, he was opposed to the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment..." -- Senator John Thune

Today, U.S. Senator John McCain's presidential campaign held a press conference call with Senator John Thune (R-SD), Randy Scheunemann, senior foreign policy adviser, and Kori Schake, senior foreign policy adviser, to discuss Barack Obama's statements on Iran:

Senator John Thune: "Let me just start by saying I think the Iranian test today shows the great threat that we face and that, once again, Senator Obama's words don't match his actions. He said he's in favor of tougher sanctions on Iran, but, he was opposed to the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment, called Iran 'a tiny threat,' that's a quote, and, of course, supports unconditional meetings with Ahmadinejad.

"Senator Obama has been persistently week on the issue of Iran. And, I mentioned the Kyl-Lieberman Resolution, which, among other things, urged tougher sanctions on Iran, and designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on a specially designated global terrorist list.

"The Iranian missile test serves to illustrate the need for missile defense capabilities. Now, Senator Obama has made statements such as, and I quote, 'I don't agree with the missile defense system,' end quote, to promising that he would save billions in wasteful missile defense spending by cutting missile defense system research as much as $10 billion.

"He has consistently minimized the threat that Iran poses. He said that Iran does not pose a serious threat and, as I said before, the description of Iran as 'a tiny threat' suggests that he does not believe that this is a serious threat that needs to be dealt with by the international community. Now, if you look at the words and the deeds of Ahmadinejad and the leadership in Iran, it's pretty clear what their agenda is. They've said things like Israel should be wiped off the map, Israel is a stinking corpse, the Holocaust is just a myth, and, of course, there were these early-July threats to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, and that's a threat against the entire world. The Middle East, because it would impact about 40% of the world's oil, that is moved by tankers out of that region. So, these are consistent statements by the Iranians and I think give us a real good glimpse and idea of what their intentions are. And, if you look at their deeds, they support that."

"So, I think the record basically speaks for itself. There is no doubt that Iran is a threat, and a growing threat, at that. We need to work with our European and our regional allies to meet this threat, but not give unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy. So, to say that we are not engaged in diplomacy, as Senator Obama suggested, with the Iranians, is absolutely incorrect. We've had lots of discussions. Before the end of the month, the EU's Foreign Policy Minister, or Foreign Policy Chief, Javier Solana, is to return to Iran for talks with its top nuclear negotiator. Last month Solana presented Iran with the revised package of economic, technical, and political incentives on behalf of the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany. So, there are lots of discussions going on and my point simply is this, Senator Obama's actions and his words don't match, and the way that he has treated this issue suggests that this is an area that he has been consistently and persistently weak on, and this is where there is tremendous contrast with Senator McCain, who clearly understands the threat, who has demonstrated that over a long period of time, and who, I believe is ready to be Commander-in-Chief on day one, if elected to the Presidency of the United States."

Kori Schake: "I would just add two things to what Senator Thune has already said. The first is that Senator Obama says he supports sanctions but he voted against sanctioning Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, the very organization that conducted today's missile test. He opposed calling them a terrorist organization. He voted against the Kyl-Lieberman bill. Senator Obama said he will do everything in his power to eliminate the Iranian threat. He says he voted against the Kyl-Lieberman amendment because it was a prelude to war. More than three-quarters of the Senate voted in favor of it, but Senator Obama called it reckless. I think that he has been all over the map on this issue and unwilling to identify the problem and stick to a consistent course on dealing with the problem really does show a worrisome lack of judgment."

Randy Scheunemann: "Once again, we're seeing that Senator Obama is revealing his inexperience on a serious matter of international security. He voted against designating the Revolutionary Guard as a terrorist organization. He said that Iran was not a serious threat. What he has proposed is unconditional meetings which amount to little more than unilateral cowboy summitry.

"News reports indicate that Europeans are worried about Senator Obama's approach -- granting unilateral concessions to Iran despite a coordinated transatlantic and United Nations security council position. It's no wonder that the Europeans are worried about Senator Obama's approach. He has denigrated their very serious diplomatic efforts as outsourcing, which is not a term of approval in Senator Obama's lexicon.

"Senator Obama says he wants aggressive diplomacy and Senator Thune mentioned the package that's on the table. But I think it's important to look at how generous this package is that Senator Obama just this morning said was a small step. Perhaps he is unaware of the incentives that are in the package that are offered by the foreign ministers of China, Russia, Germany, France, Britain, as well as Secretary of Rice and Javier Solana for the EU.

"It includes technical and financial assistance for the nuclear program -- civilian nuclear program, including the construction of light-water reactors. It includes legally binding guarantees of a nuclear fuel supply. It includes an enhanced political and diplomatic dialogue. It includes moves to normalization of trade, WTO membership and foreign investment. It envisions a system of support for agriculture, the environment, civil aviation.

"This is a very, very generous package and yet Senator Obama says this is only a step. It is a multilateral package, but Senator Obama wants to unilaterally drop the multilateral demands on Iran to cease uranium enrichment. I think it's a very serious question that should be asked of the Obama campaign. What else is he willing to give Iran? What other concessions does he think should be made? How much is he willing to give Iran that has not already been offered? The fact is, that patience with multilateral diplomacy is no reason for impetuous unilateralism."

Listen To The Full Conference Call.

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