Iran's regime and its nuclear weapons program threaten thesecurity of the United States and our allies in the Middle East. Recently, Iranthreatened to close the Strait of Hormuz in response to US sanctions against
the Central Bank of Iran. Last year, I reintroduced the Stop Iran'sNuclear Weapons Program Act, the toughest Iran sanctions bill everintroduced.Several of the provisions in my bill, the Stop Iran's Nuclear Weapons Program Act,were approved by the House of Representatives when it recently passed two major sanctions bills targeting Iran for greater economic and diplomatic pressure: the Iran Threat Reduction Act and the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act. I cosponsored the first bill and am the lead Democratic cosponsor of the latter. On December 15, 2011, the House voted to pass the Iran Threat Reduction Act by a vote of 410 to 11. The House also voted to pass the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act by a vote of 418 to 2 on the same day. I am urging my colleagues in the Senate to take swift action and pass these bills. The provisions I authored that were included in the Iran Threat Reduction Act include requiring an expedited effort at the Treasury Department to sanction the hundreds of front companies and agents that operate on behalf of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), and tough sanctions against foreign companies that do business with them. The IRGC is an elite army that controls much of Iran's economy, suppresses dissent in Iran, and exports terror abroad. The Iran Threat Reduction Act also includes provisions I contributed to sanction the purchase or issuance of Iranian sovereign debt, including government bonds or bonds issued by a state-controlled firm. Furthermore, the bill includes provisions I authored to effectively end the "Halliburton loophole" by sanctioning parent companies for the activities of a foreign subsidiary that would violate current US sanctions. Finally, the bill included my provision to require the State Department to better define and publish the types of technologies and services that enable Iran to disrupt the flow of information and monitor and crush dissent in its population. The regime used software technology provided by European firms to identify individual activists and crush the uprising in June 2009. The Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act includes a provision I authored that would provide for sanctions against firms that provide those countries with equipment or technology relevant for mining uranium. Iran is facing a uranium shortage, and has been searching for foreign sources of uranium as well as trying to improve its domestic capability to mine uranium.