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Statement On Office Of Terrorism Finance And Economic Sanctions Policy


Location: Washington, DC

Madam Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.

Madam Chairman, it has been one year since Congress passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Divestment Act. This legislation, the most robust sanctions package to date, coupled with the passage of UN Security Council resolution 1929 and a newly strengthened sanctions package from the European Union, gave us the tools to create a targeted international sanctions regime aimed at bringing maximum economic pressure on the Iranian regime to halt its illicit nuclear program.

In the year since the President signed CISADA into law, the Iranian regime has continued to advance its nuclear weapons program with the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency identifying possible military dimensions to the Iranian program and plans to triple highly enriched uranium production. In addition to its flagrant violation of international nuclear non-proliferation laws and sanctions policy, this regime has continued to be the leading sponsor of terrorist organizations like Hezbollah and Islamic Jihad.

For the past year, members of this committee - including the Chairman and Ranking Members, both of whom have been so committed to this issue - have lamented over the lack of implementation and enforcement of CISADA. We've questioned countless witnesses about the lack of sanctions on major energy companies and the seemingly slow process of investigations. We've cited news reports of developing deals and new investments in the Iranian energy sector and wondered why no determinations were made and sanctions imposed.

Madam Chairman, in a subcommittee hearing just weeks ago, the director of the Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy - the office within the State Department charged with initiating and conducting investigations into sanctions violations - sat before many of us and confirmed that his office has three and a half full time staff. Three and a half full time staffers to determine the validity of thousands of news reports, documents, and statements about the thousands of energy firms potentially operating or looking to operate in Iran. Most Members of Congress have 5 times as many staff members.

As we look to pass new legislation in the coming months that would further tighten our existing sanctions policy, we must first make sure the United States Government has the necessary resources to properly execute these laws. This amendment requires a report to be issued on the ability of the Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy to effectively carry out its duties given its current resources. It will provide an assessment of how additional resources would enhance the efforts of the Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy to initiate, conduct, and complete investigations into violations of United States sanctions policy in a timely and effective manner.

The report will also address what has continued to be a troubling issue for many of us - the pace of investigations -- by providing an analysis of the potential impact of increased personnel, contracting authority and resources for the Office of Terrorism Finance and Economic Sanctions Policy on the timeframe for a typical investigation's initiation, performance, conclusion and resolution

If we are serious about stopping the most pertinent threat to national and international security - a nuclear armed Iran - then we must not only continue to create the most stringent framework of targeted, biting sanctions, but we must ensure we are providing the necessary tools to implement and enforce these laws to their fullest extent. I urge your support on this good amendment. Thank you, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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