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JOHNSON HAILS PASSAGE OF TOUGH NEW IRAN SANCTIONS LEGISLATION

August 1, 2012

WASHINGTON – Senate Banking Committee Chairman Tim Johnson (D-SD) praised Senate passage of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act. The bipartisan, bicameral bill he coauthored will increase the economic pressure on Iran’s leaders to abandon their illicit nuclear weapons activities and support for international terrorism. The Senate passed the measure by unanimous consent tonight and earlier this evening the House passed the bill by a vote of 421-6. It will now be sent to President Obama to be signed into law.

“As I have said before, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the most pressing foreign policy challenge we face, and we must continue to do all we can – politically, economically, and diplomatically – to avoid that result,” said Chairman Johnson. “With passage of this bill, we are taking another significant step to block the remaining avenues for the Iranians to fund their illicit behavior and evade sanctions. The sanctions contained in this bill reach more deeply into Iran’s energy sector than ever before, and build on the sweeping banking sanctions Congress enacted two years ago to reach to insurance, shipping, trade, finance and other sectors, targeting those who help to bolster Iranian government revenues which support their illicit nuclear activities.”

The bill passed today is based on the Iran Sanctions, Accountability and Human Rights Act of 2012 (S. 2101), which passed with unanimous support in the Senate in May, and includes a number of new measures from both Democrats and Republicans to create a stronger, more effective and more comprehensive bill. The bill will give the Obama Administration new tools to use in its efforts to isolate Iran and prompt its leaders to end their illicit nuclear activities.

Please click here to access a summary, a section-by-section description, and the text of the legislation.

Below is Chairman Johnson’s Congressional Record statement in support of the bill.

“I rise in strong support of the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act, our legislation which embodies a bipartisan, bicameral agreement to reconcile the current Senate and House-passed versions of Iran sanctions legislation. Once implemented, this comprehensive new set of sanctions will help dramatically to increase the pressure on Iranian government leaders to abandon their illicit nuclear activities and support for terrorism. This bill passed the House of Representatives by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 421 to 6 earlier this evening. I hope all of my colleagues will join me in supporting it so that it can be adopted by the Senate and signed into law by the President as soon as possible.

“So far, in the sputtering P5+1 negotiations, Iran has shown no clear signs of a willingness to work with the international community to engage in a serious way on nuclear issues. It remains to be seen whether Iran will ultimately be willing to work towards progress on the central issues at upcoming negotiating sessions, or whether the meetings will simply be another in a series of stalling actions to buy time to enrich additional uranium and further fortify their nuclear program. That is why I think it necessary to intensify the pressure, and move forward quickly now on this new package that leaves no doubts about US resolve on this issue. As we all recognize, economic sanctions are not an end: they are a means to an end. That end is to apply enough pressure to secure agreement from Iran’s leaders to fully, completely and verifiably abandon their illicit nuclear activities.

“Isolated diplomatically, economically, and otherwise, Iran must understand that the patience of the international community is fast running out. With these new sanctions, including those targeted at the IRGC, we are pressing Iran’s military and political leaders to make a clear choice. They can end the suppression of their people, come clean on their nuclear program, suspend enrichment, and stop supporting terrorist activities around the globe. Or they can continue to face sustained multilateral economic and diplomatic pressure, and deepen their international isolation.

“This legislation is based on the Senate bill which passed with unanimous support in May. It incorporates new measures from Democrats and Republicans in the House and Senate. The sanctions contained in this bill reach more deeply into Iran’s energy sector than ever before, and build on the sweeping banking sanctions Congress enacted two years ago to reach to insurance, shipping, trade, finance and other sectors, targeting those who help to bolster Iranian government revenues which support their illicit nuclear activities.

“As I have said before, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the most pressing foreign policy challenge we face, and we must continue to do all we can – politically, economically, and diplomatically – to avoid that result. In recent months, we have seen increased signs that the Iranian regime is feeling the pressure of existing sanctions. Their currency has plummeted, their trade revenues have been sharply curtailed, and they are under increasing pressure from the oil sanctions regime currently in place. With passage of this bill, we are taking another significant step to block the remaining avenues for the Iranians to fund their illicit behavior and evade sanctions. The bill also requires sanctions on those who purchase new Iranian sovereign debt, thereby further limiting the regime’s ability to finance its illicit activities.

“In addition, there are substantial new sanctions for anyone who engages in joint ventures with the National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC); provides insurance or re-insurance to the National Iranian Oil Company or the National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC); helps Iran evade oil sanctions through reflagging or other means; or sells, leases, or otherwise provides oil tankers to Iran, unless they are from a country that is sharply reducing its oil purchases from Iran.

“The bill also expands sanctions against Iranian and Syrian officials for human rights abuses, including against those who engage in censorship, jamming and monitoring of communications, and tracking of Internet use by ordinary Iranian citizens.

“Many of my colleagues, both Democrats and Republicans, have helped us get to this point. I want to particularly thank Chairman Ros-Lehtinen of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Without her help, we would not be here. I also want to thank my colleagues, including Senator Menendez, who crafted many of its original provisions, and Senators Schumer, Gillibrand, Lautenberg, Brown, Kyl, Lieberman, and others who contributed their ideas. I also want to thank Majority Leader Reid for his tireless efforts to enact a strong comprehensive sanctions bill.

“Finally, I want to thank the staff who crafted the details of this bill, and worked long hours in intensive discussions over the last several weeks to get it done. They include Patrick Grant, Steve Kroll, Georgina Cannon, Ingianni Acosta and Colin McGinnis of my Committee staff; Dr. Yleem Poblete, Matt Zweig, and Ari Friedman of Chairman Ros-Lehtinen’s staff; John O’Hara and Andrew Olmem of Senator Shelby’s staff, and Shanna Winters, Dr. Richard Kessler, and Alan Makovsky of Ranking Member Berman’s staff.

“All told, when enacted this bill and other efforts by the President will significantly increase pressure on Iran to abandon its illicit nuclear activities. I ask unanimous consent to insert into the record following my statement a detailed summary of the bill. I urge all my colleagues to support this measure. I yield the Floor.”

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August 2012 Majority Press Releases

  Current record