United States Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) today released the following statement regarding the final compromise text of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012 and today's designations of Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Bank:
"I applaud Under Secretary Cohen and Assistant Secretary Glaser for their efforts to designate Bank of Kunlun and Elaf Bank, and to crack down on alternate payment mechanisms used by Iran to evade financial sanctions. The European Union should immediately follow suit and order SWIFT to disconnect Kunlun and Elaf from its network.
"I also want to commend Chairwoman Ros-Lehtinen for helping us negotiate a tough sanctions bill. A broad bipartisan coalition overcame objections from some in the Administration to ratchet up energy and shipping sanctions to unprecedented levels, expand the Menendez-Kirk sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, and increase penalties facing those who violate our sanctions. In the coming weeks, should the Iranian regime continue to defy the U.N. Security Council and refuse to halt its uranium enrichment activities, we will build a new bipartisan coalition to impose farther-reaching sanctions.
"The final legislation also incorporates key elements of the Kirk-Gillibrand-Cornyn Iran Human Rights and Democracy Promotion Act by imposing sanctions on companies that provide Iran with the 'tools of oppression,' establishing expedited OFAC licensing procedures for democracy activities inside Iran and requiring a comprehensive strategy to promote access to information and Internet freedom inside Iran. The bill will deny U.S. visas for any family member of the Iranian President, Supreme Leader, Cabinet, Assembly of Experts, and senior members of the Revolutionary Guard Corps, and it calls on the President to officially designate Ali Khamenei and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as human rights abusers. Most importantly, this legislation makes it the policy of the United States to publicly call for the release of Iranian dissidents by name and offer them political asylum in the United States.
"The people of Iran deserve better than an oppressive dictatorship that brutalizes its citizens and denies them basic freedoms. It is time for the United States to make clear we stand squarely with the Iranian people against their oppressors."