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Remarks on Signing the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 and an Exchange With Reporters

August 05, 1996

The President. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. It's good to be joined today by Senator D'Amato and Congressmen Cardin, Gejdenson, Gilman, King, and Matsui; family members of the victims of Pan Am Flight 103; and two brave Americans who suffered the nightmare of being taken hostage in the Middle East.

We come together around the common commitment to strengthen our fight against terrorism. Terrorism has many faces, to be sure, but Iran and Libya are two of the most dangerous supporters of terrorism in the world. The Iran and Libya sanctions bill I sign today will help to deny those countries the money they need to finance international terrorism. It will limit the flow of resources necessary to obtain weapons of mass destruction. It will heighten pressure on Libya to extradite the suspects in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103.

From the skies over Lockerbie to Khobar Towers, from the World Trade Center to Centennial Park, America has felt the pain of terrorism abroad and at home. From the Tokyo subway to the streets of Tel Aviv, we know that no nation is immune. We have not yet solved all these tragedies. We will not rest until we do so. But one thing is clear: To succeed in this battle we need to wage it together, as one America leading the community of civilized nations.

Our Nation is fighting terrorism on three fronts: first, abroad, through closer cooperation with our allies; second, at home, by giving our law enforcement officials the most powerful counterterrorism tools available; and, third, by improving security in our airports and on our airplanes. Last week in Paris, with America's leadership, the G-7 nations and Russia agreed on a sweeping set of measures to prevent terrorists from acting and to catch them when they do. We have seen that when we pool our strength we can obtain results. We will continue to press our allies to join with us in increasing the pressure on Iran and Libya to stop their support of terrorists. We already have acted ourselves, through our own sanctions, and with this legislation we are asking our allies to join with us more effectively.

With this legislation we strike hard where it counts, against those who target innocent lives and our very way of life. It shows we are fully prepared to act to restrict the funds to Iran and Libya that fuel terrorist attacks. America will not rest, and I resolve to hunt down, prosecute, and punish terrorists and to put pressure on states that support them. The survivors of terrorism, the families of its victims who surround me, and all the American people deserve nothing less.

[At this point, the President signed the legislation.]

The President. Thank you all very much.

Extraterritorial Impact of Sanctions

Q. Mr. President, France says the Europeans will retaliate if this measure is implemented.

The President. Well, of course that's their decision to make. But every advanced country is going to have to make up its mind whether it can do business with people by day who turn around and fuel attacks on their innocent civilians by night. That's a decision that every country's going to have to make.

I will say this: I am encouraged that we are doing more with our allies than before to fight terrorism and that there is broader agreement than there has been before on specific measures. But in extreme cases where we disagree and where it is obvious that basically turning away from the implications of state support of terrorism has not worked, the United States has to act. And I can only hope that some day soon, all countries will come to realize that you simply can't do business with people by day who are killing your people by night.

Bob Dole's Tax Cut Proposal

Q. Mr. President, what do you think of Senator Dole's apparent plan to cut taxes 15 percent, 50 percent on capital gains, and so forth. Will it hurt you?

The President. Well, the most important thing is, will it hurt the American people? And I favor targeted tax cuts for education that are paid for. I am unalterably opposed to going back to the mistake we made before in having big tax cuts that are not paid for. It will balloon the deficit, raise interest rates, and weaken the economy. That's the only thing that matters: What impact will it have on the American people?

Thank you very much. Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 9:42 a.m. in the Oval Office at the White House. H.R. 3107, approved August 5, was assigned Public Law No. 104-172.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on Signing the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996 and an Exchange With Reporters Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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