March 21, 2007


Convenes Banking Hearing with Key Administration Witnesses

Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, today questioned key Administration witnesses charged with overseeing U.S-Iranian policy to help assess progress in efforts to change Iran's behavior, and determine what further steps should be taken by the United States government to strengthen these efforts. “It’s important to publicly assess the progress on efforts by the Bush Administration to increase economic, diplomatic and political pressure on the government of Iran in order to persuade its leaders to scale back their nuclear ambitions, end support for destabilizing terrorism-related activity in Iraq and throughout the region, cease its interference in the Middle East peace process, and stop undermining the legitimate government of Lebanon,” said Dodd. Sen. Dodd heard from Nicholas Burns, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; Stuart Levey, Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence; and Mark Foulon, Acting Under Secretary of Commerce for Industry and Security about their policies toward Iran, including their exercise of diplomacy, targeted financial measures, trade sanctions, and export controls. Coordinating these efforts across various federal departments and agencies is key to a successful U.S. foreign policy. “Economic sanctions are a critical element of US policy toward Iran. But sanctions alone are not sufficient. They must be used as effective leverage, undertaken as part of a coherent, coordinated, comprehensive diplomatic and political strategy which firmly seeks to deter Iran’s nuclear ambitions and other actions which pose a threat to regional stability,” said Dodd. “I do not believe that currently the Administration has fully fashioned such a strategy and should do so on an urgent basis before Iran becomes an even greater threat to regional peace and stability.” Senator Dodd has supported broad efforts to engage the private sector, including international businesses and banks, in order to exert economic pressure on Iran. However, according to Dodd, the absence of a coherent U.S. - Iran strategy for the last 6 years has hindered U.S. efforts to build international support from allies on a multilateral strategy designed to bring a verifiable change in Iranian behavior. Concerns about Iran stem from its financial and intellectual support for terrorist organizations; illegal development of nuclear technology and weaponry; support for destabilizing activity in Iraq; opposition to the Middle East peace process; and its undermining of the legitimate government of Lebanon. The Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs' broad jurisdiction includes the Bank Secrecy Act, which empowers the Department of the Treasury and other financial regulators to track and prevent the financing of terrorism and other threats to U.S. national security. In addition, the Committee oversees foreign sanctions legislation, including the Iran Sanctions Act, and controls on U.S. exports associated with "dual use" items— technology that can be used for both commercial and military purposes.