Jan 19, 2016 / Foreign Relations

Don’t award bad actors for bad behavior

This week the international sanctions against Iran were lifted, but I have not lessened my determination to hold Iran accountable for its support of terrorism and anti-Israel extremists.

I am supporting H.R. 3662, The Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, that sanctions those Iranians who finance terrorism, violate human rights, or are involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Under the Iran nuclear agreement, the Obama Administration made a political commitment to provide Iran relief from “nuclear related” sanctions using waivers and regulatory authority. Yet many sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Iran’s other destabilizing activities—including its support for international terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and its conventional weapons programs.

U.S. sanctions are also aimed at preventing the Iranian banks that use money laundering and other illicit financial practices to support terrorism and Iran’s other destabilizing activities from accessing the U.S. and global financial systems. These illicit financial practices are so pervasive in Iran that since November 2011 the entire country has been designated as a “Jurisdiction of Primary Money Laundering Concern” by the U.S. Treasury Department.

We don’t want to award bad actors for bad behavior. The bills require the President to certify that an individual or institution has not violated these provisions before sanctions are removed.

This bill prohibits the President from lifting certain sanctions impacting Iranian financial institutions and individuals until the President certifies to Congress that they have not been knowingly involved in terrorist or proliferation activities and that they are not knowingly involved in such activities on an ongoing basis.

Iran will feel more empowered now that it has won international approval for its actions. That complicates the situation in Syria and makes the path ahead harder for our allies in the region.

I will continue to do all I can working with my colleagues in Congress to ensure that Iran is held accountable for its destructive actions and cannot rejoin the community of nations as long as it sponsors terrorism, remains committed to a nuclear weapons program, and commits or supports mass atrocities and other broad violations of human rights.

 

 

HR 3662 The Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act
The Iran Terror Finance Transparency Act, sponsored by Rep. Steve Russell (R-OK) requires the President to remove Iranian individuals and entities unless they can certify the entity is not a terror financier, human rights abuser, or involved in the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Key Points (Courtesy of the Office of Rep. Steve Russell)

  • This bill is not about defeating or overturning the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), also known as the Iran nuclear deal.
  • In May of 2015, President Obama called Iran a state sponsor of terror.  He has also stated that he would not interfere with or de-list individuals and entities from the terror and human right sanctions. Still, we have identified roughly 60 that would be de-listed from those sanctions lists following the JCPOA.
  • This bill asks that if these individuals and/or entities are to be de-listed that Congress is given justification for why they are de-listed. We don’t want to award bad actors for bad behavior.

Background (Courtesy of the House Foreign Affairs Committee)

  • Under the Iran nuclear agreement the Obama Administration made a political commitment to provide Iran relief from “nuclear related” sanctions using waivers and regulatory authority. Yet many sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program are also related to Iran’s other destabilizing activities—including its support for international terrorism, its ballistic missile program, and its conventional weapons programs.
  • S. sanctions are also aimed at preventing the Iranian banks that use money laundering and other illicit financial practices to support terrorism and Iran’s other destabilizing activities from accessing the U.S. and global financial systems. These illicit financial practices are so pervasive in Iran that since November 2011 the entire country has been designated as a “Jurisdiction of Primary Money Laundering Concern” by the U.S. Treasury Department.
  • In announcing the nuclear agreement, President Obama stated “American sanctions on Iran for its support of terrorism, its human rights abuses, its ballistic missile program, will continue to be fully enforced.” However, there is nothing in U.S. law to prevent the Administration from lifting sanctions on those involved in these destructive activities.
  • In fact, under the deal, the Obama Administration agreed to lift sanctions on a significant number of specific individuals, companies, and banks, some of which are engaged in Iran’s support for terrorism and its ballistic missile program.

This bill…

  • Blocks the President from offering sanctions relief to an individual or bank until certifying that such entity has not conducted a significant transaction with a terrorist organization, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps or in support of either Iran’s ballistic missile or its conventional weapons programs.
  • Prohibits the Administration from lifting Iran’s designation as a “Jurisdiction of Primary Money Laundering Concern” until it certifies that the Government of Iran is no longer supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, or engaging in illicit financial activities.
  • Provides Congress greater insight into how the Treasury Department licenses specific U.S. companies to do business in Iran.
  • Applies the Congressional Review Act to provide Congress the ability to disapprove of Iran related changes to the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • Clarifies that Iran’s proxies—Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad—are included in the definition terrorist organizations for the purposes of financial sanctions against Iran.

One-pager (Courtesy of the House Foreign Affairs Committee)