The national security challenges facing our nation today are immense. They include the responsible drawdown of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan that must be concurrent with progress on security, an increase in well-trained Afghan security forces, a commitment to a transparent political progress in the country and the protection of the hard-fought gains made by Afghan women in the past decade; U.S. assistance to the victims of the conflict in Syria; halting Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapon; supporting our stalwart ally Israel; and bolstering international efforts to combat the grave threat of nuclear terrorism. Senator Casey continues to work to pursue a national security strategy that protects our interests and supports those who serve their country.
Senate Caucus on Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism
Perhaps the gravest challenge facing our Nation is the prospect of a terrorist group detonating a crude nuclear weapon in the heart of an American city. Equally dangerous is the scenario of a terrorist group weaponizing a biological agent such as anthrax, smallpox, or a virus not yet known. Senator Casey is a co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Caucus on Weapons of Mass Destruction Terrorism. This caucus is composed of Senators who recognize the urgency and depth of the threat posed to the United States and its citizens by acts of nuclear, biological, and chemical terrorism and who work with leading experts to gain a better understanding of policy proposals to prevent, prepare for, mitigate, and respond to acts of WMD terrorism.
National Security Working Group
In 2011, Senator Casey was appointed to the National Security Working Group (NSWG). This bipartisan group was established in 1985 as a forum for members of the Senate to discuss arms control issues and observe arms control negotiations. It conducts oversight on the Executive Branch as it deliberates on treaty negotiations, pursues action through multilateral forums, and engages with foreign partners on critical national security priorities including arms control, missile defense, terrorism, and cyber security. This body allows the Senate to participate in the deliberative process of Executive Branch negotiations on some of the Nation’s most important security priorities. The NSWG has played an important role in the negotiation of every major nuclear treaty since 1985, including the original START Treaty, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the SORT Treaty and the New START Treaty.
For more than four years, Senator Casey has worked to address the critical problem of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs. IEDs are responsible for the majority of deaths and injuries among our servicemembers in Afghanistan. A key explosive ingredient in IEDs used in southern Afghanistan, calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN), is also used as a fertilizer and is produced in factories in Pakistan. Senator Casey has been adamant that the Pakistani government must significantly increase its commitment to regulating bomb components and preventing them from being smuggled across the border into Afghanistan.
In June 2010, Senator Casey introduced S. Res. 570, which called for an increased effort by the Governments of Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other Central Asian countries to effectively monitor and regulate the manufacture, sale, transport and use of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in order to prevent its entrance into Afghanistan. In July 2012, he met with Secretary Clinton to discuss Pakistan’s commitment to combating IEDs.
In March 2013, Senator Casey received commitments from the owners of the Pakistani factories that produce and distribute this fertilizer, the Fatima Group, that they have voluntarily halted distribution of CAN in the Pakistani provinces of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Baluchistan, which border Afghanistan.
Afghan women and girls and the 2014 elections in Afghanistan
Senator Casey introduced the Afghan Women and Girls Security Promotion Act, which requires the Department of Defense and the Department of State to produce a detailed report and recommendations on efforts to promote the security of Afghan women and girls during the process of transferring security responsibility to Afghan forces. Senator Casey introduced this bi-partisan amendment with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas to the FY13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Afghan women are not willing to give up on their rights and the U.S. needs to demonstrate its commitment to supporting them over the long term.
In May 2013, Senator Casey also introduced S.Res.151, which urges the Afghan government to ensure that women can safely participate in the elections. In addition, S.Res.151, expresses support for a transparent, credible and inclusive election process in Afghanistan in April 2014.
Addressing the crisis in Syria
As the need for greater humanitarian assistance and a stronger U.S. response to the Syrian conflict continues to increase, Senator Casey proudly introduced S. 617, the Syria Democratic Transition Act of 2013 with Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. This bill includes a combination of humanitarian assistance, non-lethal equipment and training to the vetted elements of the Free Syrian Army, and sanctions against elements of the regime.
In April 2013, Senator Casey visited Turkey where he met with activists and leadership from the Syrian opposition to the Assad regime. He visited the Kilis refugee camp on the border with Syria where he met with Syrian refugees and toured the facilities.
Iran’s nuclear program and human rights
Since coming to the Senate in 2007, Senator Casey has supported a variety of measures to pressure Iran to respect international nuclear regulations and human rights. The Iranian regime’s efforts to develop and possess a nuclear weapon present a grave threat to the United States and our allies. In order to protect our national security interests, the United States must work with the international community to apply pressure on the Iranian regime.
Senator Casey has supported the continued use of economic and diplomatic pressure to impel Iranian regime to halt its pursuit of a nuclear weapon. For example, Senator Casey co-sponsored the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012. This amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act enhances sanctions imposed with respect to Iran. The act increases sanctions on the Iranian energy sector as well as its port, shipping, and shipbuilding sectors. It also places new restrictions on Iran’s ability to get insurance for these industries. In December 2012, Senator Casey joined Senators Menendez of New Jersey, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and 70 other Senators in sending a letter to President Obama regarding Iran’s nuclear weapons program. The letter expresses the urgency in addressing the security threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons capability. It also calls on the Obama administration to fully implement all existing sanctions and to adopt new, stronger sanctions.
Senator Casey is also deeply concerned about the Iranian regime’s ongoing human rights abuses, and has been outspoken about the need for increased U.S. and international attention to this issue. Senator Casey cosponsored S. Res. 75, condemning the Government of Iran for its state-sponsored persecution of its Baha'i minority and its continued violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.
Support for Israel
Israel is one of the United States’ most trusted allies. A stable and secure Israel is in our national security interest and has been a cornerstone of our foreign policy for more than half a century. The United States benefits enormously from cooperating with Israel on counterterrorism, intelligence and defense. Israel has shared innovative technology and equipment with the U.S. military, helping to protect our servicemembers in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. The U.S. and Israel have also worked together to develop missile and rocket defense systems that will protect the U.S. and its allies. Finally, Israel’s strategic location makes it a valuable partner in collecting and analyzing intelligence on key issues in the Middle East region, including nuclear proliferation. It is clear that maintaining a strong relationship with Israel promotes U.S. security and advances our national interests.
Senator Casey is committed to strengthening the unbreakable bond between the United States and Israel, and to promoting peace and security throughout the Middle East. Senator Casey has strongly supported the bilateral peace process between Israel and the Palestinians throughout his time in the Senate. In April 2013, Senator Casey visited Israel where he met with President Peres and Prime Minister Netanyahu to discuss security issues facing our countries, including Iran’s nuclear program and unrest throughout the Middle East.
Today, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group and former Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near Eastern, South and Central Asian Affairs, released a statement on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Read More
Amid new concerns, U.S. Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, has sent a letter to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) pressing the Administration for answers on the progress of programs designed to aid Afghan women and girls. Recent reporting has brought into question the number of Afghan girls attending schools and the quality of the infrastructure of those schools, among other concerns. In his letter to Larry Sampler, Assistant to the Administrator for Afghanistan and Pakistan Affairs, Casey called for a fresh review of the programs and for the Administration to provide metrics to gauge effectiveness. Read More
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA) and David Perdue (R-GA) introduced legislation to restrict ISIS' ability to profit from the sale of antiquities. ISIS has ransacked cities and pillaged historical artifacts, as it did in Palmyra, and then sold those antiquities on the black market. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) has reported that this trafficking may be the group’s second largest source of revenue. The Protect and Preserve International Cultural Property Act, would give the Administration the authority to impose import restrictions on Syrian antiquities. Ordinarily the process of restricting the sale of illicit historical artifacts could be done through the 1970 UNESCO Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing the Illicit Import, Export, and Transfer of Ownership of Cultural Property, but since the U.S. lacks diplomatic relations with the Assad regime in Syria, additional authorities are needed. Read More
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, released a statement following an agreement on a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding Iran's nuclear program: Read More
Senator Bob Casey (D-PA), a member of the National Security Working Group, announced that he has sent a letter to Secretaries Kerry and Lew pressing the Administration for more action to counter the financial networks that support ISIS. He urged Treasury to designate and levy new sanction on ISIS 'middlemen' who facilitate illicit smuggling of oil, antiquities, and other goods. Casey also urged the Administration to consider designating ISIS as a Transnational Criminal Organization (TCO), which could provide the Administration additional authorities in the effort to cut off the flow of money to ISIS. Despite operating largely outside the formal banking sector, reports including a 2015 analysis by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), indicate that ISIS may be accessing banks near territory it controls. Additionally the Assad regime may be allowing Syrian banks in ISIS-controlled territory to continue business as usual. In his letter Casey also asked for an update on the progress the Iraqi government has made in preventing ISIS from accessing bank branches that are connected to the country’s financial system. Read More
Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) announced that a resolution highlighting the importance of press freedom and the issue of impunity in attacks against journalists has cleared the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The bipartisan resolution recognizes the dangers that reporters face and reaffirms freedom of the press as a priority for the U.S. government. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 221 journalists worldwide were in prison as of December 1, 2014, including Washington Post reporter Jason Rezaian who remains jailed in Iran. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, in 2014 Syria was the world's deadliest country for journalists for the third year in a row. Read More