The U.S. Senate has passed a non-binding resolution, co-sponsored by three senators, including Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), stating that American policy should be to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear weapons capability.
The resolution, backed by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and co-authored by U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn) and U.S. Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), was introduced in February. It passed on Sept. 22 by a vote of 90-1: U.S. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) was the lone dissenter.
The question of whether America needs to prevent Iran from mastering the technology to make nuclear weapons or from getting the weapons themselves has been the subject of fierce debate in the international arena. It has also injected itself into the presidential campaign,
The vote took place several days before Iranian’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was set to speak at the United Nations General Assembly this week. Speaking with reporters after his arrival in New York, Ahmadine-
jad declared that Israel has “no roots” in the Middle East and will soon be “eliminated.”
Casey, a proponent of increased sanctions against Iran, said in a statement that “passage of this resolution makes crystal clear our expectations. Iran must suspend its uranium-enrichment program and allow for a comprehensive program of international inspection and verification.”
Casey, who was elected six years ago, is leading in statewide polls over Republican challenger Tom Smith, a businessman from Armstrong County.
Spokeswoman Megan Piwowar said that Smith “believes that allowing Iran to develop the capability to create nuclear weapons is simply not an option.”
Repeating a line of attack that Smith took in his June speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition, Piwowar said, “The Obama administration has failed to adequately support the Israelis, and as one of the president’s strongest allies, Sen. Casey has failed to hold the administration accountable for this failure.”
In related legislative action, U.S. Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Bucks County, introduced his own non-binding resolution on Sept. 21 condemning Ahmadinejad, specifically
for speaking at the United Nations on Yom Kippur.
It’s not clear whether the scheduling was intentional or coincidence. Ahmadinejad has spoken at the United Nations nearly every year since he first took office in 2005.
Fitzpatrick said that he thinks Ahmadinejad should be barred from appearing at the United Nations altogether, but doing so on Yom Kippur is doubly offensive to Jews and Americans.
The bipartisan resolution has been signed by 13 House members, including U.S. Rep. Pat Meehan of Delaware County. Since Congress isn’t currently in session, the resolution won’t have a chance to pass the full House. But Fitzpatrick said that by simply introducing the resolution, he articulated the statement he wanted to make.
Noting that the idea for a resolution stemmed from a conversation he had with Abrams Hebrew Academy head of school, Rabbi Ira Budow, and a lay leader at the school, David Zellis, who are both constituents, Fitzpatrick said: “The bottom line is if you give a bully an inch he is going to take a yard.This bully needs to learn that Americans are not going to tolerate his brand of leadership.”
Fitzpatrick is currently locked in what many consider among the most competitive House races in the state. His challenger, Democrat Kathy Boockvar, urged the United Nations to “not permit this offensive address to take place, and not allow Yom Kippur to once again be used as an opportunity for our enemies to launch attacks against Israel, only this time with rhetoric rather than guns.”