U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said today that all options to tighten and expand sanctions on the Iranian regime must be implemented immediately in order to stop Iran's nuclear weapons program. Ros-Lehtinen welcomed a statement from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) that it would stop providing services to Iranian financial institutions targeted by U.S. and European sanctions. This morning, Ros-Lehtinen attended a meeting with Ambassador Mark Wallace of United Against Nuclear Iran and discussed the need to impose debilitating sanctions against the Iranian regime. After the meeting, Ros-Lehtinen issued the following statement:
"It is time for the Administration to use all of the measures at its disposal to dramatically increase pressure on the Iranian regime.
"I welcome today's announcement from SWIFT that it will deny Iranian financial institutions access to its services. This will cut off the regime's access to the global banking system. We need to make sure that SWIFT follows through.
"The U.S. must lead the way in imposing the strongest possible pressure on Tehran. I urge the Administration to finally enforce and implement all of the Iran sanctions laws currently on the books, including against the Central Bank of Iran. In addition, we must sanction Chinese energy companies that throw Iran an economic lifeline by continuing to do business as usual.
"The Iranian regime will only respond to crippling pressure. It is far too late for half measures."
NOTE: Ros-Lehtinen is the author of H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act. The bill strengthens, updates and replaces previous Iran sanctions laws. The bill closes loopholes in energy and financial sanctions, including by targeting the Central Bank of Iran. The bill also targets the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and senior Iranian regime officials. The bill passed the House by 410-11 on December 14, 2011, but it has not been taken up by the Senate.
Ros-Lehtinen is also the author of H.R. 3880, which would prohibit the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT)--a member-owned cooperative that provides some 10,000 financial institutions worldwide with the means to exchange secure electronic financial messages--from facilitating Iranian financial transactions that violate U.S. laws. It would effectively bar Tehran's use of SWIFT's technology to conduct business with its trading partners, to sell its oil, to raise capital for its energy sector, to procure energy-related equipment and technology, and to buy and sell other goods and services.