Accessibility links

US Lawmakers Monitor Iran Situation

As thousands of Iranians demonstrated in the streets in the aftermath of the contested election, and the government barred foreign media from covering news on the street, a number of U.S. lawmakers voiced their concerns.

In the House of Representatives, Texas Democrat Sheila Jackson Lee suggested that the election result did not reflect the will of Iran's people. "Let us raise our voices. The United Nations should raise its voice. No, we are not trying to select the next president of Iran. We are only asking that the people select the next president of Iran. Shame on Iran's election process," she said.

Another Democrat, New York Representative Carolyn Maloney, voiced concern about violence and deaths, saying she hopes Iran's government is sincere in its pledge to conduct a limited vote recount. "The Iranian authorities have now indicated that they will do a limited recount of the election results. I hope they are sincere and earnest in this offer. As President Obama has said, for those who have used their right to dissent, the world is watching and the world is inspired," she said.

Minority Republicans continue to be critical of President Obama, asserting he has not been strong enough in voicing support for Iranians protesting the government-announced election outcome.

Saying the world is witnessing a Tiananmen Square in Tehran, Indiana Representative Mike Pence says the Obama administration should express unqualified support for those protesting the election result. "The American cause is freedom and in this cause the American people will not be silent, here or abroad. If the president of the United States won't express the unqualified support of our nation for the dissidents in the streets of Iran, this Congress must," he said.

Pence said he would introduce a resolution expressing support for Iranians struggling for freedom, civil liberties and the protection of the rule of law, voicing concern about reported election irregularities, and condemning violence against demonstrators by pro-government militia.

Republican Dave Reichert from Washington state said as the world watches post-election developments in Iran, Congress and the Obama administration must maintain pressure on the government in Tehran to change direction on its nuclear program. "Our desire, all of us across the world, is to see a secure and peaceful future for the people of Iran, the greater Middle East and the world, but this cannot happen without some changes in Iran's policies, regardless of the outcome of their election," he said.

In television interviews, Republican John McCain echoed calls from within his party for stronger statements on Iran by President Obama. But Republican Senator Richard Lugar said he agreed with the White House approach.

Senator Bob Casey, a Democrat, said the U.S. must continue to improve the leverage it has with Iran, using sanctions targeting Iran's energy sector, and divestment legislation, and had this observation about events in Iran. "It is easy to forget with all of the incendiary rhetoric from leaders like Mr. Ahmadinejad that the Iranian people remain fundamentally pro-American, and envy our democracy and personal liberties," he said.

In his latest remarks on Iran, President Obama said he believes Iranians want to see greater openness, debate and democracy. But he added it is not productive given the history of U.S.-Iranian relations to be seen as meddling in Iranian affairs.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said the president has been forceful in addressing the universal right of people to demonstrate, condemning violence, and observing that there is a yearning in Iran for change.

Gibbs also addressed the question of ongoing U.S. concerns about overall Iranian policy. "The concerns that we have about Iran are no different than [those] we had last Thursday or last Friday. Our primary concerns are obviously the state sponsorship and the spread of terror, and their efforts to secure a nuclear weapon. Those interests, our interests, are no different today than they were before the election," he said.

Iran also figured in a hearing of the House of Representatives Europe Subcommittee examining the state of U.S.-European relations.

Subcommittee chairman,Florida Democrat Robert Wexler said the possibility of a nuclear-armed Iran is one of numerous difficult issues demanding a stronger commitment from America's European partners and others.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon said the Obama administration hopes for more cooperation from Russia in preventing Iran becoming a nuclear and ballistic missile threat.