The Iran Transparency and Accountability Act, legislation introduced by Congressman Ted Deutch (FL-19) gained critical momentum today as U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), and House colleague Congressman Dan Burton (R-IN) joined him as original cosponsors for its reintroduction in the 112th Congress. The Iran Transparency and Accountability Act would require companies to make public any investments in Iran's energy sector in their quarterly and annual reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), thereby strengthening the enforcement of national sanctions policy aimed at thwarting Iran's nuclear weapons program.
The recent revolution in Egypt and the democratic uprisings that have ensued across the Middle East serve as profound reminders that the stability of this region is tremendously important to the security interests of the U.S. and our allies. A nuclear-armed Iran remains the single most threatening destabilizing force in the Middle East, making the effective enforcement of economic sanctions absolutely critical. Navigating international markets and investigating the web of relationships between publicly traded companies, foreign subsidiaries, and front groups established by Iran's Revolutionary Guard make illuminating sanctionable business is a significant challenge. Deutch's bill shifts this burden of identifying these activities from the government to the companies themselves by mandating self-disclosure to the SEC.
The legislation would also direct the SEC to make publicly viewable online the list of companies conducting sanctionable business with Iran's energy sector. Heightened transparency will allow Americans to ensure their investment dollars are not undermining national security objectives, and to make clear to the U.S. business community that investments in Iran's energy industry are not acceptable.
"Americans should have the right to know if their investments are empowering a regime that threatens our national security, endangers the very existence of Israel, and risks destabilizing the entire Middle East," said Congressman Deutch. "By mandating self-disclosure and subjecting this information to public scrutiny, we afford the American people the opportunity to ensure their investment dollars are not undermining our national security objectives. In addition, this new level of transparency will enhance our ability to enforce the sanction laws against Iran already on the books."
While crafting this legislation, Deutch worked closely with national experts on sanctions policy, including former Ambassador Mark Wallace, whose organization, United Against a Nuclear Iran, has been instrumental in building support for tougher disclosure requirements. United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) has been successfully pressuring companies to end business in Iran through its Iran Disclosure Project. Congressman Deutch's efforts to dismantle the financial lifeline of Iran's nuclear weapons program began in the Florida State Senate, where he passed the nation's first Iran divestment law and enabled Florida to divest over a billion dollars from the regime's energy sector. Shortly after his election to Congress, Deutch was invited by Senator Joe Lieberman to testify on how to identify companies whose business ventures strengthen Iran's nuclear ambitions before the United States Senate Homeland Security and Intergovernmental Affairs.