May 25, 2016

Brown Opening Statement at Hearing on Oversight of the Iran Nuclear Agreement and Sanctions

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) – ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs – released the following opening statement, as prepared for delivery, at today’s hearing entitled, “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal: Administration Perspectives.”

Brown’s remarks, as prepared for delivery, follow.

Senator Sherrod Brown - Opening Statement
Hearing: “Understanding the Role of Sanctions Under the Iran Deal: Administration Perspectives”
May 25, 2016

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Yesterday we heard a range of witnesses discuss the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and the application of our existing sanctions architecture to combat Iran’s malicious activity. Those remaining sanctions target Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism, human rights abuses, and ballistic missile activity that is inconsistent with UN Security Council resolutions.

Today we will hear from two senior administration officials who play key roles on Iran policy. They will share their perspective on the progress of implementation, the effectiveness of our broader strategy to combat Iran’s dangerous and destabilizing behavior in the region, and how we might strengthen it consistent with our JCPOA commitments.

Ambassador Steve Mull is the State Department’s Lead Coordinator for the Iran Nuclear Agreement.

Our chief sanctions enforcer in the U.S., Mr. Adam Szubin serves as Acting Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes in the Treasury Department. As our witnesses unanimously re-affirmed yesterday, he is eminently qualified, having served in the Bush and Obama administrations in key national security roles related to economic sanctions and countering terrorist financing.

It is inexcusable that Mr. Szubin’s nomination was pending in the Banking Committee for almost a year before we finally acted on it, and is now being held up by the Republican leadership, for no apparent reason.

This despite the fact that the Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Crimes is one of the most important national security posts in our government. As we heard again yesterday, allowing this proven leader to remain unconfirmed undermines America’s influence in our efforts to track terrorists and stop them from raising money on the black market or elsewhere. 

Mr. Szubin’s job is focused on leading our country’s effort to disrupt terrorist financing by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and other groups, and – especially important to today’s hearing – he leads US efforts to combat Iran’s malicious activity in the region. The Senate should vote to confirm him today.

As we heard in our hearing yesterday, Iran has so far complied with all of its JCPOA commitments, and as a result the US, Israel and our other allies in the region are safer and more secure.  

Whether we supported or opposed the JCPOA, we all recognize the need to continue to combat the persistent threat that Iran poses to the United States and our allies. This requires the administration to enforce existing sanctions, designate new sanctions targets, block Iran’s pursuit of military technologies, and take other steps to confront Iran and its terrorist proxies like Hizballah.

This also requires continued coordination with the international coalition whose joint actions made the sanctions regime effective enough to bring Iran to the negotiating table and force it to agree to the JCPOA in the first place. I look forward to hearing our witnesses today describe our strategy on each of these fronts.

In addition to sanctions and JCPOA oversight, Congress must also support robust military and other aid to regional partners like Israel. We should be focused on ensuring strict implementation of the agreement, and on the most effective ways to pressure Iran’s leaders to change their destabilizing behaviors in the region.

I welcome our distinguished administration witnesses this morning, and look forward to hearing their perspectives.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.