News / Middle East

US Senators Examine Iranian Involvement with Terrorism

U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (July 2012 photo)U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (July 2012 photo)
x
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (July 2012 photo)
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey (July 2012 photo)
TEXT SIZE - +
Michael Bowman
CAPITOL HILL — Iran’s support for terrorists around the world will grow further if it acquires nuclear weapons, according to U.S. lawmakers and experts testifying at a Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee hearing on Wednesday.

The United States has long regarded Iran as the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism.  Tehran’s backing for terrorists was highlighted by last week’s suicide bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists.  Israeli officials say the attack was carried out with Iranian support, a charge Tehran denies.

Whatever Iran’s current activities, a nuclear-armed Iran would be emboldened to do even more, according to Democratic Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania.

“A nuclear Iran would feel empowered to conduct more terrorist attacks against U.S. and Israeli targets, provide more lethal assistance to Hezbollah and Palestinian militant groups, and give the Quds Force greater freedom to support terrorist groups across the Middle East,” Casey said.

Washington Institute for Near East Policy counterterrorism expert Matthew Levitt put it more succinctly.

“If Iran were to get a nuclear capability, that would be Iran on steroids,” Levitt said.

But would Iran go so far as to share atomic weapons with terrorists?

Middle East scholar Daniel Byman of the Washington-based Brookings Institution says he does not think so.

“The silver lining [i.e., the good news], if we can call it that, is that under current circumstances Iran would not be likely to pass a nuclear weapon to terrorist groups.  One indication of Iran’s caution on this score is that it has not transferred much less-lethal weapons, such as chemical weapons, even though these have been in Iran’s arsenal for over 25 years,” Byman said.

International sanctions on Iran have focused on deterring Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, not its backing for international terrorism.  And although the economic pressure felt by Iran as a result of the sanctions might constrain Tehran on several fronts, including its support of terrorists, it will not force any severing of terrorist ties, says Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute.

“I do not think they are going to let go of these groups because of the nuclear sanctions.  And even if we come to some agreement [on Iran’s nuclear program], there seems to be reason for them to abandon their support for terrorist groups, because they have never done so before, and because they have never really paid a high price for supporting those groups,” Pletka said.

The U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have passed separate bills to further tighten U.S. sanctions on Iran.  It is not clear whether the two chambers will pass a unified version of a bill that President Barack Obama could sign into law.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid