GOP committee head presses Obama on Iran

The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee pushed the Obama administration on Monday to pressure China and Russia to take a stand against Iran.
 
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said the recently disrupted alleged assassination plot against the Saudi ambassador to the U.S., which federal officials said was sponsored by elements of the Iranian government, was an effort to shift international attention away from Iran’s nuclear ambitions and that the U.S. should take action beyond sanctioning the country.

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“This is a country that is a state sponsor of terror that also wants to have nuclear weapons and that’s why the international community really needs to stand up with one voice,” Rogers said in an interview with Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC.

If the U.S. does not get Russia, China and Europe on board with its actions against Iran, “our options become more limited,” Rogers said.

“It doesn’t mean we can’t be more aggressive. And it doesn’t mean in the short term, the administration should not be all over the Chinese and the Russians.”

Rogers pressed the administration and Congress not to delay, saying that the longer the U.S. waits, the more likely Iran is to create “trouble” for the U.S. and its allies.

The alleged plot was disrupted last week “by a stroke of luck,” according to Rogers — a former FBI agent — because the Iranian factions allegedly reached out to an undercover federal informant. If the plotters had carried out the attack, U.S. and international law enforcement officials would likely not have any solid leads on who the attacker was or his alleged connections to Iran, Rogers said.

“I wouldn’t look at this as an amateurish event,” Rogers said. “I think it was very, very sophisticated. The only difference was when they decided to go find a criminal that would live up to their expectations and actually pull it off, what they failed to realize was that person had been recruited by the United States government a few years earlier.”

Iran has denied any connection to the attack; some have raised the possibility that the U.S. is implicating the country, which has been on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terror for decades, as a way to address Iran’s nuclear program.

But Rogers said he has no doubt about Iran’s involvement. 

“There’s a difference between evidence and intelligence, and I will tell you there is evidence here,” he said. “I’m a former FBI agent, so I tend to look at it in a fairly critical light myself.”

Republican pressure for the president to take action against Iran mounted over the weekend as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich (Ga.) criticized Obama’s position against Iran as being too weak.