January 15, 2016

Hirono Joins Congressional Delegation To Middle East

Iran Nuclear Deal, Security Issues, And Growing Divide Discussed With Allies

One year after supporting the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), commonly known as the Iran Nuclear Deal, Senator Mazie K. Hirono traveled to the Middle East to discuss JCPOA’s implementation and broader security challenges in the region. 

During the six-day trip, Hirono traveled to Austria, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey, meeting key leaders and decision makers in each country, including: the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, in Austria; Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, President Reuven Rivlin, and Knesset opposition leader Isaac Herzog, and Bethlehem Mayor Vera Baboun; top Saudi Interior Ministry officials and women appointed to Saudi Arabia’s Shura Council; and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu of Turkey.

The meetings with world leaders included discussion of the Iran Nuclear Deal, the continuing Iranian threat, the Syrian civil war, the rise of and strategies to counter the Islamic State in the region, exporting terrorism, and the growing sectarian divide in the Middle East, among other topics.

“The leadership role that the U.S. continues to play in the Middle East is as important as ever. In meetings with key leaders in Israel, my colleagues and I emphasized the need to work with Israel to implement the Iran Nuclear Deal,” said Senator Hirono. “Together, we can make sure that Iran abides by its commitments under the agreement. We also stressed that as Israel faces new and enduring threats on its borders, the U.S. will continue to work with Israel to ensure its security.”

In September 2015, Hirono supported the Iran Nuclear Deal. The IAEA is reportedly ready to certify that Iran has met its obligations under the Iran Nuclear Deal, which would bring “Implementation Day” and the beginning of sanctions relief under the agreement.

“Iran continues to present a threat to our country through its support of terrorism, and its recent ballistic missile test – although unrelated to the Nuclear Deal – is nonetheless concerning. So I am under no illusion that Iran can be trusted. Hence, we must commit to providing IAEA the necessary funds over the term of the Nuclear Deal to enable IAEA to continue its monitoring and inspection of Iran to ensure Iran’s compliance. My conversation with IAEA officials provided an opportunity for me to receive assurances about how the Iran agreement verification process will be implemented.”

“Talking with top officials in the region gave me valuable information related to the complicated dynamics and real threats in the Middle East and the impact of these threats to our own national security.  From conversations with Israel’s key decision makers and a visit to the Israeli-Gaza border crossing to long meetings with Saudi Interior Ministry officials and Turkey’s leadership, we focused on the importance of fostering and sustaining our partnerships in the region,” Senator Hirono concluded.

The delegation, led by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, also included Senators Chris Coons, Tammy Baldwin, Tim Kaine, Heidi Heitkamp, Cory Booker, and Gary Peters.