Obama, Frank, Lantos Introduce Iran Divestment Bill
U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and U.S. Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA) and Tom Lantos (D-CA) today introduced the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007, which empowers Americans to apply economic pressure on the Iranian regime by establishing a federal list of entities that invest in Iran and allowing for divestment. As Iran continues to threaten regional stability and international security by pursuing a nuclear program, rattling sabers at its neighbors - especially Israel - and supporting terrorist groups funded by its energy sector, this bill will enable investors and state and local governments to ensure they are not invested in companies that support Iran's oil and gas industry.
"The Iranian government uses the billions of dollars it earns from its oil and gas industry to build its nuclear program and to fund terrorist groups that export its militaristic and radical ideology to Iraq and throughout the Middle East," said Senator Obama. "Pressuring companies to cut their financial ties with Iran is critical to ensuring that sanctions have their intended result. All Americans can play a role in pressuring companies to cut their ties with the Iranian regime, a state sponsor of terror that is a threat to our allies in the region and international security, as a means of convincing Iran to fundamentally change its policies."
"Federal Law should not stand in the way of investors or state and local governments who want to act on their own conviction about morality and American interests," said Barney Frank, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee.
"This legislation makes use of one of the most successful diplomatic tools available to discourage Iran from developing nuclear weapons: the financial vise," said Tom Lantos, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. "We can put the squeeze on Iran using this tool; it encourages companies and individuals to remove their money from any investment that might support Tehran's heedless quest for nuclear weapons."
The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2007 will:
* Require the U.S. government to publish a list every six months of those companies that have an investment of more than $20 million in Iran's energy sector. This comprehensive list will provide investors with the knowledge to make informed investment decisions as well as a powerful disincentive for foreign companies to engage with Iran.
* Authorize state and local governments to divest the assets of their pension funds and other funds under their control from any company on the list.
* Protect fund managers who divest from companies on this list from lawsuits directed at them by investors who are unhappy with the results.
* Establishes a Sense of the Congress that urges the Thrift Savings Plan to offer a terror-free investment option for government workers.