Testimony of Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Anne W. Patterson Before the House Armed Services Committee on U.S. Security Policy and Defense Posture in the Middle East

February 11, 2014

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear


I know this committee shares our deep concern about Iran's nuclear program and its intentions. I want to reassure you that the United States government is firmly committed to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. On January 20, we and our P5+1 partners, and the European Union, began to implement the Joint Plan of Action with Iran. For the first time in nearly a decade, Iran has agreed to halt progress on its nuclear program and roll it back in key respects.

Secretary Kerry met with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif at the recent Munich security conference, where he reiterated the importance of both sides negotiating in good faith and called on Iran to abide by its commitments under the Joint Plan of Action. He also reaffirmed that if Iran does not keep its commitments during this period, we will halt the limited, temporary and reversible relief envisioned in the Joint Plan of Action.

We are now focused on pursuing a comprehensive solution - discussions will begin in Vienna on February 18. We plan to build our initial steps to obtain verifiable assurances that Iran's nuclear program is peaceful and that Iran will not acquire a nuclear weapon. During this period, we will continue to enforce vigorously the existing sanctions put in place by the United States and many of our partners in the international community.

We are well aware that Iran continues to promote regional instability and uses both Iranian and proxy fighters to pursue foreign policy objectives. Iranian money, training, and equipment are playing a significant role in keeping the Asad regime in power, exacerbating a conflict that has wide-reaching regional security implications. And of course, Iran's support for Hezbollah in Lebanon has done much to destabilize the country and assure tensions continue along its U.N.-recognized border with Israel. Iran's efforts to undermine Yemen's stability and peaceful political transition were revealed when Yemeni forces intercepted a shipment of Iranian weapons being smuggled into Yemen last year. Iran has provided aid to extremist elements seeking to undermine Bahrain's stability and security. Our efforts to reach a diplomatic solution to the nuclear issue will not stop us from taking decisive steps with our partners to prevent this interference.

The U.S. government continues to be concerned about the Iranian government's violations of its own citizens' human rights. We will continue to advocate for greater Iranian government accountability in international fora and imposing sanctions on Iranian officials and institutions that violate Iranians' human rights.