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Palm Beach Post: Klein advocates sanctions on Iran

EXTRACT: The panelists encouraged divesting in companies doing business in Iran, such as Britain’s Royal Dutch Shell PLC.

By DON JORDAN
Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 03, 2007

WEST PALM BEACH — Strong economic pressure from the international community is the best way to stop Iran from developing a nuclear weapons program, U.S. Rep. Ron Klein said at a conference Sunday. But if sanctions fail, the Boca Raton Democrat said, he wouldn’t agree with taking “any options off the table,” including military action.

“We need to do whatever we can to put a stranglehold on the Iranian business community,” Klein said. “The goal is to try and create a worldwide view that … Iran is an instability to the Middle East.”

Klein delivered his remarks at a conference on Iran sponsored by local chapters of the Jewish Federation and the World Affairs Council.

The freshman congressman was part of a panel on current and future policies toward Iran. Philippe Vinogradoff, consul general of France in Miami, and retired U.S. State Department official Victor Comras, who serves as a monitor for the U.N. Security Council on measures concerning Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, also were on the panel.

The panel advocated economic sanctions as the best way to dissuade Iran from producing weapons.

The panelists encouraged divesting in companies doing business in Iran, such as Britain’s Royal Dutch Shell PLC. In September, Florida’s State Board of Administration authorized the state’s public employee retirement fund to divest nearly $1.3 billion invested with 21 companies doing business in Iran or Sudan.

Klein and Comras also criticized Russia and China for continuing strong trading partnerships with Iran despite international pressure to cut ties. “They’re willing to wait and see and let the West do the heavy lifting,” Comras said.

When an audience member asked about the United States decreasing its reliance on foreign oil, Klein said the development of alternative energy sources is the “calling of this generation.”

“This is the Manhattan Project,” he said. “This is the Sputnik program of our time.”

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