Lawmaker: 'Moderate' Iran muzzles press, prolongs war in Syria

Rep. George Holding (R-N.C.) warned Monday that the Iranian leaders the Obama administration is dealing with in talks over Iran's nuclear weapons program are not as moderate as some believe, and that the U.S. should be watching what Iran does, not what it says.

The United States and a handful of other countries negotiated and are now implementing an agreement under which Iran has said it would scale back its uranium enrichment program. In exchange, the U.S. and others have said they would lift $8 billion worth of economic sanctions against Iran.

ADVERTISEMENT
But Holding, like other GOP members who oppose the deal, said the U.S. should not be dealing with a country that is still guilty of human rights abuses and attempts to stop all discourse against Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"Websites have been restricted and mobile phone applications have also been blocked," he said on the House floor Monday. "There have also been reports of numerous newspapers and blogs being shut down altogether, and their reporters and editors being arrested.

"These people advocate for reform, and are critical of the regime in Tehran."

Holding also said as many as 60 people are being executed in Iran each month, and that Iran is sending "trained murderers and weapons" to Syria to prolong that nation's civil war. He said it's important to remember these facts for two reasons.

"First, it should serve as a stark reminder of just who exactly the Obama administration is really negotiating with," he said. "And secondly, it shows the true intentions and belief of those that are really in power in Iran.

"It shows the disconnect between the rhetoric of the self-described moderate president, and what is really going on within Iran's borders."

Republicans in particular have called for a vote on new sanctions against Iran as a way to protest what they see is a weak agreement that allows Iran to continue enriching uranium. But last week, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said it is not calling for a vote now, in part because it wants to ensure support for sanctions remains bipartisan.