Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me time. I want to thank him and the ranking member for moving this legislation forward.
Mr. Speaker, Iran is the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the whole world. Out of 195 countries, they are the worst country in the world when it comes to exporting terrorism.
The mullahs in Tehran not only support worldwide terrorist groups, terrorist groups that have American blood on their hands, they resort to terrorist tactics to extort and blackmail the American people. For decades, Iran has held American citizens in prisons unlawfully.
They detain these Americans under the charge of espionage. We all know that this is just a ploy to extract concessions from the United States.
Earlier this month, we learned that Iran threw another American citizen in jail last year. This time it was a Princeton Ph.D. student conducting research in Iran for his dissertation.
This student is now being held in Iran's most notorious prison, Evin Prison. If anyone thought that Iran was going to moderate as a result of the nuclear deal, these ongoing unlawful detentions are evidence to the contrary.
Iran has been emboldened, and there is no indication they will stop this tactic of terror. We need to get the attention of the barbaric mullahs that seem to take delight in imprisoning Americans and even Iranian citizens for political reasons.
We know at least eight Americans currently languish in Iranian jails. Iran is not content with just holding these Americans.
They are actively working to extract payments and concessions from the United States, like sanctions relief, as a condition for their release. This is old-fashioned textbook extortion.
This resolution will send a clear message to the mullahs: Release the Americans and return them to their homes. Let the American hostages go. I was glad to see the new sanctions imposed by the Treasury in April on the Tehran Prisons Organization.
More pressure is needed by our country. I urge the administration to spare no effort to secure the release of American hostages. These hostages have been held by Iran too long, and Iran has proven that they do not respond very well to carrots.
Since we gave away the courthouse and the mineral rights in the Iranian deal, maybe it is time we pull out the stick. As Teddy Roosevelt said: “Speak softly, and carry a big stick.”
And that is just the way it is.