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Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 Amendments

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


IRAN SANCTIONS ACT OF 1996 AMENDMENTS -- (House of Representatives - July 30, 2007)

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Ms. ROS-LEHTINEN. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

All of us know, Mr. Speaker, that Iran is a growing threat to the region and to U.S. national security interests.

Iran's record for supporting Islamic extremists is dangerously supplemented by its continued violation of its nonproliferation obligations, its mockery of the International Atomic Energy Agency process, and its continued defiance of the United Nations Security Council's demands to halt its nuclear enrichment and reprocessing program.

Just last week, Iran's chief nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, told Britain's newspapers, the Independent and the Guardian, that uranium enrichment was ``like breathing'' for his country, and that Iran would not halt the spinning centrifuges at its main enrichment plant at Natanz, even if the Bush

[Page: H8867]

administration offered security guarantees.

We could just wait for further action from the United Nations to counter the Iranian threat, but even the Iranian regime is aware of the influence of Russia and China at the U.N. Security Council and the refusal of some of our European and Asian allies to sacrifice commercial interests for the sake of nonproliferation.

[Time: 14:15]

Just last Wednesday, Iranian leader Ahmadinejad said that U.N. resolutions could not prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear technology. He stated, ``Let's say that they issue Resolution Number 300. What will happen? It should be remembered that Iran is obtaining nuclear technology. They will have to eventually accept that.''

Well, for almost 5 years, Mr. Speaker, Iran has been manipulating the so-called international community buying time to expand, to strengthen and to hide its nuclear activities. In fact, recent public reports further document the construction of a major tunnel complex inside the mountain near the Iranian facility at Natans, near the fortified buildings where the Iranian uranium is reportedly being processed.

This clearly illustrates the frenetic and advanced nature of that regime's nuclear weapon pursuit and should increase our sense of urgency. But the regime's pursuit of these destructive policies has one weakness: Iran's energy infrastructure. Iran's economy and its ability to influence events is heavily dependent on the revenues derived from energy exports. As such, recent U.S. efforts to prevent Iran from acquiring weapons of mass destruction have focused on deterring and prohibiting investments in Iran's petroleum sector.

U.S. law prohibits American firms from investing in Iran. In addition, the Iran Sanctions Act seeks to influence responsible nations to stop their investment in Iran's energy sector, that is the economic lifeline of the regime, by calling for sanctions on those entities. Unfortunately, due to lack of enforcement, lack of commitment from some of our allies, foreign entities which fall outside of the jurisdiction of our country continue to invest in Iran, helping to fill the coffers, enabling the regime in Tehran to pursue not just a nuclear capability, but a chemical and biological program, long-range ballistic missiles and, as all of us know, they are a state sponsor of global Islamic extremism and terrorism.

As part of their effort to isolate Iran and deprive it of its revenues, it needs to fund its nuclear weapons program. My distinguished colleague, Chairman Lantos, and I introduced the Iran Freedom Support Act, which was enacted into law in September of last year. This legislation strengthens sanctions against those who invest in Iran's petroleum sector, the economic lifeline of the Iranian regime. However, the final version of the law did not include language that would make export credit agencies, insurers and other financial institutions subject to sanctions for their facilitation of investments in Iran's oil industry.

The bill before us, Mr. Speaker, H.R. 957 seeks to close this loophole. The imminent need to close this loophole and to compel responsible nations to do the right thing was clearly articulated in February of this year by Ambassador George Schulte, the chief U.S. representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency. Ambassador Schulte called on European governments to stop giving credits to subsidize exports to Iran and to take more measures to discourage investment and financial investment with Iran.

It is my hope that, despite the clarifications included in the suspension text at the request of other committees, that H.R. 957 is applied vigorously against those governments that claim to support our efforts to stop Iran's nuclear pursuit but fail to take tangible actions to deny the regime the resources to continue along this destructive and dangerous path.

H.R. 957 also seeks to expand the activities covered under the law to include petrochemicals and liquefied natural gas. Concerns were raised that existing law required the clarification that sanctions under the ISA should apply to certain foreign subsidiaries of U.S. companies; therefore, H.R. 957 expands and extends the applications to U.S. foreign subsidiaries as defined in the bill.

This is a straightforward bill with a simple purpose: to enhance our ability to deprive Iran of the revenue it needs to fund its nuclear weapons and to secure greater cooperation from European, Asian, Russian and other allies to cut off the flow of funds to Iran. Responsible nations must immediately stop their multi-million, and in some cases billion, dollar investments in Iran's energy sector.

Mr. Speaker, I strongly urge my colleagues to support this critical bipartisan measure to confront the Iranian threat.

Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.

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