Throughout his career, Chuck Hagel has sought to protect Iran from American sanctions and diplomatic pressure.
In June 2001, Hagel condemned the proposed sanctions against Iran, saying they would “isolate us.
In July 2001, Hegel voted against the Sanctions Against Iran and Libya Act, which adopted 96-2. “This law helps to deprive Iran and Libya of money they would spend to support terror or acquire weapons of mass destruction.
In June 2004, Hegel refused to sign a letter calling on President Bush to draw attention to Iran’s nuclear program at the G8 summit.
In an April 2006 speech in Islamabad, Pakistan, Hegel stated that “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.
In July 2006, in the context of the war between Israel and Hezbollah, Hegel called on the Bush administration to open direct talks with Hezbollah supporters – Iran and Syria. “Ultimately, the US will have to engage Iran and Syria with an agenda open to all areas of agreement and disagreement. For this dialogue to have any sense or lasting meaning, it must cover the entire agenda”.
In August 2006, Hegel was just one of 12 senators who refused to sign a letter asking the EU to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organization.
In May 2007, Hegel said in an interview after his speech: “I think it’s really dangerous to talk about the use of military force against Iran…I don’t think it’s ever possible to dictate to a country, especially one like Iran. Iran is one of the most powerful countries in the Middle East, if not the most powerful”.
In October 2007, Hagel sent a private letter to President Bush calling for “direct, unconditional” negotiations with Iran to create “a new historical dynamic in U.S.-Iranian relations.
In March 2007, Hegel refused to join 72 senators in support of a bill on bipartisan sanctions called the Iran Proliferation Control Act.
In September 2007, Hegel opposed the appointment of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terrorist organization and voted against 76 senators. Read “Congressional Sense on Iran”: “The United States must define the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps of Iran as a foreign terrorist organization… and place the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps on the list of Specially Designated Global Terrorists.
In November 2007, Hegel stated that “continued hostility between the United States and Iran will isolate the United States.
In June 2008, Hegel advocated the opening of a “section on American interests” in Tehran. But the conversations I had with Iran’s ambassador to the United Nations, both – in fact, the last three, including the current one – have other signs, I think this is an area that we could explore”. I don’t know why it is not in our interest. [Last time American diplomats were held hostage in Iran for 444 days.]
In July 2008, Hegel voted in the Senate Banking Committee against legislation that imposes sanctions on countries doing business with Iran. It passed 19-2.
In October 2008, Hegel was named “solely responsible” for the Senate’s adoption of a two-party bill on sanctions against Iran, which had 72 co-authors.
In March 2009, in an interview with Al Jazeera, Hegel agreed that the United States was a “world bully.
INTERVIEWER: “We received an e-mail from Wendy Day. She writes to us from Georgia, here in the United States. She writes: “Is it possible to convince the rest of the world to abandon its arsenal when the image of the United States is the image of a world hooligan? Don’t we really need to change perceptions and reality before asking people to lay down their weapons (nuclear or other)?
HA HAGEL: “Well, her observation is good, and it is relevant. Yes, to her question.
“America’s refusal to recognize Iran’s status as a legitimate power does not diminish but, on the contrary, increases its influence.
“Iran will not deter itself from developing nuclear weapons simply because the United States and the EU say they must – especially if they feel threatened, and if the United States, Britain, France, Israel, among others, all retain their nuclear weapons.
“America is a great power, not Iran. Because of the huge responsibility that comes with such power, it falls to us to promote the proposal that the United States and Iran can overcome decades of mutual distrust, suspicion and hostility.