May 24, 2016

Shelby Remarks at Hearing on Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal

WASHINGTON, DC – Tuesday, May 24, 2016 – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Chairman of the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, today delivered the following opening statement during a full committee hearing on “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal.”
The text of Chairman Shelby’s remarks, as prepared, is below.  
 “Today, the Committee will receive testimony on the repercussions of lifting economic sanctions from the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, Iran. 
“In particular, it is important for this Committee to understand the effects of implementing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or more simply, the ‘Iran Deal.’
“Time and again, Iran’s actions have demonstrated that this deal has placed the United States in a position of weakness and given Iran the upper-hand.
“As U.S. and global sanctions evaporate, Iran continues, and in some cases appears to expand, its dangerous behavior. 
“It continues to express its commitment to the destruction of Israel. 
“It continues to operate its aggressive ballistic missile programs, including testing these missiles five times since the Iran Deal’s implementation date.
“It continues to conduct illicit financing, sending hundreds of millions of dollars to groups like Hezbollah. 
“It continues to promote severe and widespread human rights abuses, including record numbers of executions and oppressive restrictions on civil liberties. 
“We are more than four months into the implementation of the Iran Deal in which Iran promised to refrain from building a nuclear weapon in exchange for significant sanctions relief.
“There is already a growing belief that this Administration has little interest in preserving the tools it would need to re-impose sanctions, should Iran violate the terms of the deal.
“While the world relies on the promises of a rogue nation, Iran has begun to see immediate benefits from the agreement, despite its claim that they are not accruing fast enough.
“For example, the deal gave Iran prompt access to approximately $100 billion in previously-frozen overseas assets. 
“The deal also suspended virtually all European Union and United Nations sanctions imposed since 2010, including those on Iran’s valuable energy sector. 
“In addition, it lifted most U.S secondary sanctions on foreign entities and countries that transact business with Iran, including in the energy and banking sectors.   
“Still, the Obama Administration continues to actively engage in further opening Iran’s economy to the world.
“In March of this year, Treasury Secretary Lew said that the Administration would continue to seek ways to ‘… make sure Iran gets relief.’
“In particular, the Administration has indicated its willingness to create avenues for a legitimate dollar-trade with Iran, notwithstanding assurances that no Iranian transactions will touch the U.S. financial system in any way.
“Undoubtedly, access to the world’s strongest and most liquid currency would allow the Iranian economy to flourish in comparison to current levels. 
“But, with such new-found wealth, there would be no restrictions on how Iran would spend their windfall.
“Many fear that there is absolutely no way to restrain a growing Iranian economy from funding Hezbollah, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, Iran’s missile program, and other priorities of Iran’s Supreme Leader.
“It is no surprise that, despite the misguided efforts of the Administration to put the global banking system at ease, financial institutions are reluctant to do business with Iran, as well they should be. 
“Not only are international banking sanctions extremely – and purposefully – complicated to unwind, but the reputational risk that Iran poses remains significant.
“Issues like these illustrate how the Iran deal was sealed before it was clear on how it would be implemented, and thus whether or not it would work. 
“While Iran has not changed any of its non-nuclear reckless behavior, it has become apparent that the Administration will bend over backwards to try to make the agreement even more attractive to Iran.
“During last year’s negotiations, the White House gave the impression to Iran and the world that it thought any deal was better than no deal.
“Now, unfortunately, it is taking extreme measures to try to make a bad deal work.
“I look forward to the testimony of our witnesses today as the Committee evaluates the important issues before us and considers necessary and appropriate actions.”