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Thune: Iran Has the Chance to Chart a New Course

Click here to watch Thune’s speech.

WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Whip Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) today discussed the war powers resolution that is being considered by the Senate and the president’s decision to authorize a military strike that took out Iranian General Qasem Soleimani earlier this year. Thune applauded the decision to take action on Soleimani, the chief architect of Iran-backed terror throughout the Middle East who was responsible for hundreds of American deaths.

Thune’s remarks below (as prepared for delivery):

“Mr. President, today we’re taking up a war powers resolution ostensibly aimed at restricting hostilities with Iran.

 

“The impetus for this resolution was the strike the president authorized to take out Iranian general Qasem Soleimani.

 

“Mr. President, Iran has a long history of fomenting violence and conflict in the Middle East.

 

“And General Soleimani was always right in the center of things.

 

“As head of the Quds Force of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, Soleimani masterminded Iran’s terrorist activities for two decades.

 

“Iran has been linked to one in six U.S. military deaths in Iraq, notably through the IEDs that have become so emblematic of the war on terror.

 

“This was Soleimani’s work.

 

“He is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of American soldiers – and countless innocent civilians.

 

“And the threat Iran poses to U.S. personnel is an ongoing threat.

 

“At the end of December, an Iran-backed militia fired more than 30 rockets at an Iraqi military base, killing an American contractor and wounding four U.S. troops.

 

“Days later, Iran-backed protesters stormed the U.S. embassy in Baghdad, conducting a two-day siege of the embassy before withdrawing.

 

“But the strike on General Soleimani wasn’t just based on these recent attacks or on Soleimani’s long reign of terror in the Middle East.

 

“The president authorized the strike on Soleimani because there was credible intelligence that Soleimani was planning imminent attacks against U.S. interests.

 

“That was the conclusion not of the president, but of the U.S. intelligence community and nonpartisan experts like the CIA director and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

 

“And it was in response to this conclusion from the intelligence community that the president ordered the strike.

 

“Mr. President, the war powers resolution coming before the Senate was introduced out of concern that taking out Iran’s top terrorist leader would lead to escalation

 

“But that has not happened.

 

“The perspective provided by the nearly six weeks that have passed since Soleimani’s killing underscores the one-off nature of this strike.

 

“The president has not escalated this conflict or used Soleimani’s death as an excuse to send troops into action against Iran.

 

“In fact, this strike was designed to check escalation in the region – specifically, increasing aggression and imminent attacks by Iran.

 

“Mr. President, we live in a dangerous world, and the United States must be able to respond to imminent threats to our security.

 

“I support a robust interpretation of Congress’ constitutional prerogatives when it comes to the declaration of war and the deployment of U.S. troops.

 

“But I also believe that the president has the authority – and indeed, the responsibility – to protect the United States from imminent threats.

 

“The strike against Qasem Soleimani has reminded those hostile to the United States that the United States will not stand idly by while U.S. personnel are threatened.

 

“It has removed a top terrorist leader from the arena – a leader responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans.

 

“And it has reduced – although certainly not eliminated – the risks to our men and women in uniform deployed in the Middle East.

 

“I believe the president’s action was justified, and I think this resolution is an ill-advised and potentially problematic response to the president’s action.

 

“Mr. President, with Soleimani’s evil influence removed from the Middle East, Iran has the chance to chart a new course – to rethink its participation in terrorism and its oppression of its own people.

 

“I hope Iran will moderate its activities.

 

“But of course, we have to be prepared for the likelihood that it won’t.

 

“We have to continue to ensure that our words and actions make Iran and any other hostile nation think twice before attacking U.S. citizens.

 

“And we have to continue to ensure that our military and intelligence community have the resources they need to identify and defeat any threat.

 

“I will continue to work to ensure that our military is the best-prepared, best-equipped fighting force in the world and that our intelligence professionals have the resources they need to protect our country.”

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