In a clear contrast to President Obama’s speech yesterday, Sen. Mitch McConnell gave a hard-hitting speech to AIPAC tonight, promising to use the tools at his disposal to pressure the administration to take military action against Iran if it passes specific “red lines” that he outlined.
While Obama has also made it clear he’s open to using force against Iran, he has declined to explicitly state what Iranian actions would trigger a U.S. military response. But McConnell did not have the same reluctance.
“If Iran, at any time, begins to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or decides to go forward with a weapons program, then the United States will use overwhelming force to end that program,” said McConnell.
The minority leader criticized Obama’s vagueness on Iran, and suggested that the president watered-down his threats of action by failing to use force in Libya and Syria. He also claimed the administration was relying too heavily on sanctions.
“The administration has used this same language about preserving all options in developing its policy toward Libya, Iran, and, now, Syria,” McConnell said. “Clearly, the threat has lost its intended purpose.”
McConnell said he would force the administration’s hand on Iran by introducing an authorization for military force in the Senate if intelligence shows Iran is enriching weapons-grade uranium.
“If at any time the intelligence community presents the Congress with an assessment that Iran has begun to enrich uranium to weapons grade levels, or has taken a decision to develop a nuclear weapon — consistent with protecting classified sources and methods — I will consult with the president and joint congressional leadership and introduce before the Senate an authorization for the use of military force,” said McConnell.
The numerous standing ovations from the audience showed that AIPAC attendees are anxious for clearly outlined proposals from elected officials, after yesterday’s vague assurances.