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)
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

Mali's Female Basketball Players Rebound After Islamist Occupation

Islamist extremists ruled northern Mali for most of 2012, imposing strict Sharia law, and now some 18 months later, the region is slowly getting back on its feet More

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

Many Chinese-made products go unsold, for now, with numerous Vietnamese consumers still angry over recent dispute More

Koreas Mark 61st Anniversary of War Armistice

Muted observances on both sides of heavily-armed Demilitarized Zone that separates two decades-long enemies More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Students in Business for Themselvesi
X
Mike O'Sullivan
July 26, 2014 11:04 AM
They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid