House and Senate pass watered down Iran sanctions bill-IRI Lobby Upset
House and Senate pass watered down Iran sanctions bill
Late Wednesday evening, the House and Senate both passed new legislation increasing sanctions on Iran, sending the bill to the president’s desk for his signature.
The Senate passed the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act by unanimous consent and the House passed it 421-6. The bill claims to close several loopholes in the current sanctions regime and provides for additional penalties against entities that aid Iran’s petroleum, petrochemical, insurance, shipping, and financial sectors. The bill is a compromise of House and Senate versions that was negotiated behind closed doors between Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairwoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).
The watered down bill unfortunately does not contain proposed language offered by Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) in the Senate and Reps. Ted Deutch (D-FL) and Robert Dold (R-FL) in the House that would expand energy-sector sanctions on Iran by declaring the country a “zone of proliferation concern,” thus barring any businesses or service providers from dealing with the Iranian petroleum sector in any way. Instead the bill includes a non-binding “sense of Congress” that Iran is a zone of proliferation concern.
The bill also does not provide for penalties on the board of directors of the international financial transaction clearinghouse SWIFT, penalties that would have punished those directors if SWIFT allowed any banks from any countries to aid Iran in evading international sanctions, as the Wall Street Journal editorial board advocated for today.
The legislation also does not expand existing sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran to apply to all Iranian financial institutions and entities that do business with them, like exchange houses and gold suppliers. Kirk and some House members had been advocating for those provisions.
NIAC an organization that advocates for favorable policies toward the criminal regime in Iran seemed displeased even with the watered down version. In a statement released on Aug 1, 2012, it referred to the Bill as ” bad joke.”
The most potent portion of the Bil in H.R. 1905 (section 601 c of H.R. 1905, ANS) that would have prohibited U.S. government employees in any “official or unofficial capacity” from contacting anyone who is affiliated with the Iranian government and who “presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations.” was deleted and amended with a vague and more neutral language. The section now reads:
Section 601 -
Applies certain penalties under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act to persons violating specified provisions of this Act and the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act of 2010.
To waive this(601c) requirement, the President would have had to certify 15 days in advance that not making this contact “would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States”.
Surprisingly and despite the removal of key provisions, AIPAC expressed support for the Bill.
The Iranian-American community vehemently objects to the removal of Sec. 602, Sub Sec. C. which would have effectively barred and prohibited IRI lobbyists and pro regime organizations such as NIAC, PAAIA, IABA, NIPOC and many other pro regime proxies from engaging with government officials on foreign policy issues related to Iran. NIAC and its lobby cohort went to great extremes to ensure that Sec. 602 was omitted from the Bill.
The original 2011 version of the HR 1905, Sec 602 SEC. 602. titled “INADMISSIBILITY OF CERTAIN ALIENS WHO EN2GAGE IN CERTAIN ACTIVITIES WITH RESPECT TO IRAN” included this provision that Not later than 180 days after the date of the enactment of this subsection, the Secretary shall issue regulations and guidelines for interpreting and enforcing the prohibition under subparagraph (H) of section 212(a)(3) of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1182(a)(3)) on the admissibility of aliens who engage in certain sanctionable activities with respect to Iran.’’.
By Arash Irandoost