ARMS EMBARGO IN BOSNIA (House of Representatives - April 25, 1996)

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The SPEAKER pro tempore. Under a previous order of the House, the gentleman from California [Mr. Cox] is recognized for 5 minutes.

Mr. COX of California. Mr. Speaker, during his recent circumnavigation of the planet, President Clinton told the G-7 summit leaders that they should join with him in urging Russia to put the squeeze on Iranian mullahs who are shipping arms, in particular shipping arms to the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

While the President was calling on our allies to pressure Iran, and while the President and the Clinton administration were calling the Iranian terrorists, quote, `the main source of international terrorism,' and while publicly condemning Iran's shipment of arms to the Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, Bill Clinton was secretly and simultaneously conniving an even bigger Iranian arms shipments to Bosnia.

Let us look at the history of this. On May 30, 1992, the United States imposed an arms embargo on the former Yugoslavia. The United States supported it, and when spy photographs showed Iranian 747's unloading illegal arms shipments in Zagreb, our State Department told us and told the world that we raised hell.

That was the United States' policy that candidate Bill Clinton opposed. Candidate Bill Clinton said he supported lifting the arms embargo in Bosnia, not so that Iran could sell weapons to the Bosnian Moslems, but rather so they could receive support from United States allies like Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

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As President, he promised when he was a candidate, he would lift the unfair United Nations arms embargo against Bosnia. But once in office, Bill Clinton completely changed his mind. He broke that pledge, broke that promise, and opposed lifting the arms embargo.

He reversed his position because, he said, it would be wrong for any international arms shipments to go to Bosnia. It would `Convert a complex ethnic war into an American responsibility. The United States must, therefore, oppose any international arms shipments to Bosnia.'

The Congress, however, voted to lift the arms embargo and sent the President a bill. It was not quite unanimous, but it was hugely bipartisan. Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate sent the President a bill so that we could, through our allies, help the Bosnian Moslems to defend themselves. The President vetoed that bill. He said nobody, not Turkey, not Saudi Arabia, none of our friends, least of all the United States of America, could help arm the Bosnian Moslems.

The President assured not only Congress, but the American people and allies, like Britain and France, that he was staunchly opposed to lifting the arms embargo. And without telling even our own Joint Chiefs of Staff, it now develops the President secretly let it be known in Iran that the United States would not oppose huge, illegal arms shipments to the Bosnian Moslems.

Huge quantities of weapons, accompanied by Iranian intelligence agents and mujahedin rebels, were thus shipped into Bosnia, by a regime that the Clinton administration publicly was branding as the financier, the armorer, the trainer, the safe haven, and inspiration for terrorists. These are the people that the secret Clinton policy, that Bill Clinton himself, secretly was introducing to Europe.

As the U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense was using those exact words I just quoted, the financier, armorer, trainer, safe haven, and inspiration for terrorists, the description of Iran, he was using those exact same words in his testimony to Congress. His boss in the White House, Bill Clinton, knew that up to eight cargo jets each month were taking off with Iranian arms bound for Bosnia. There can be no question that this was duplicitous.

Right now congressional committees are preparing to investigate this sordid matter, to determine whether laws were broken governing illegal covert operations and governing failure to report truthfully to the Congress.

But while it remains to be seen whether and, if so, which laws were broken, there is no question that the President broke his word to this Congress and to the American people. There can be no question that the President broke his word to France and to England. In briefs prepared for John Major and Jacques Chirac at the G-7 Summit, unknown to the President, they had incontrovertible proof that the President had lied publicly to them.

It is incumbent upon this Congress to take this matter with the utmost gravity and to investigate it so that we can restore the good word of the American people around the world.