Committee News


Ros-Lehtinen, House Republican Leaders Urge Obama to ‘Fully, Vigorously’ Implement Iran Sanctions

(WASHINGTON) – U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, was joined yesterday by Republican Leader John Boehner (R-OH), Republican Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA), Republican Conference Chairman Mike Pence (R-IN), and other members of the House Republican Leadership and House Republican Conferees on the recently adopted Iran Sanctions legislation, in sending a letter to President Obama urging him to “immediately and comprehensively implement all available sanctions and other penalties in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010” (H.R. 2194, which passed both Houses of Congress yesterday).

As noted in the letter, previous efforts by Congress to impose strong sanctions against the Iranian regime have been severely undermined by a lack of implementation and enforcement by the Executive Branch. The letter urges the President to follow through on his commitment to fully implement U.S. sanctions laws targeting Iran and his pledge to “do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” Full text of the letter and a full list of signatories follow below.


June 24, 2010

The President

The White House

Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We write to urge you to immediately and comprehensively implement all available sanctions and other penalties in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 to force the Iranian regime to stop its pursuit of nuclear weapons capabilities and all other activities that threaten the United States, our interests, and our allies such as Israel.

As the Joint Explanatory Statement to this legislation noted, “The effectiveness of this Act will depend on its forceful implementation.” The statement also noted that “Although [the Iran Sanctions Act] was enacted more than a decade ago, no Administration has sanctioned a foreign entity for investing $20 million or more in Iran's energy sector, despite several such investments. Indeed, on only one occasion, in 1998, did the Administration make a determination regarding a sanctions-triggering investment, but the Administration waived sanctions against the offending persons. Conferees believe that the lack of enforcement of relevant enacted sanctions may have served to encourage rather than deter Iran's efforts to pursue nuclear weapons.”

This new legislation provides you with additional strong sanctions and other punitive measures and demonstrates our bipartisan commitment to fully using them to stop the threat posed by the Iranian regime. At the request of your Administration, most of this legislation’s many strong provisions have been made subject to broad waivers, as is the case in the underlying Iran Sanctions Act.

As you are aware, entities engaging in energy-related transactions with the Iranian regime subject to these sanctions do not need further waivers or exceptions to avoid penalties. They may do so by simply ending their sanctionable activities.

The “Special Rule” provided for in Section 102(g) of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act allows you on a case-by-case basis to terminate, or not initiate, an investigation of such sanctionable activities if you certify that the person:

• has stopped this activity; or

• has “taken significant verifiable steps toward stopping the activity”; and

• that you had “received reliable assurances that the person will not knowingly engage in [such activities] in the future.”

In this regard, we refer you to the Joint Explanatory Statement, which calls for such assurances to be provided in writing and should “be credible and transparently verifiable by the United States government.” Mr. President, in availing yourself of this rule, you should require firms to provide you with a detailed catalog of their existing activity in Iran and a plan and timeline for winding down any such activity as soon as possible. We further point to the Joint Explanatory Statement’s affirmation that any entity “seeking to take advantage of this special rule… should be encouraged to provide assurances that it will do only the minimum required by an agreement involving Iran.”

The prospect of new sanctions has already motivated a number of foreign companies to begin to terminate their commercial relationships with Iran. Others would consider similar action if compelled to by the pending imposition of sanctions. For example, the chief executive officer of the French company Total stated that “If any laws, or any rules, are made in a way that prevents [us] from doing those things, we will stop. We always respect laws… I’ve been asked by certain people to reconsider [doing business with Iran]. I say OK, make it official.” Similarly, a senior official of the Swedish company Atlas Copco stated that if forced to choose between doing business with Iran or doing business with the U.S., “It would be no problem. We wouldn’t trade with Iran.”

Therefore, we urge you not to waive the sanctions in this Act and in the underlying Iran Sanctions Act. We ask instead that you fully and vigorously impose the sanctions and other punitive measures in this Act and in already-existing law, especially the underlying Iran Sanctions Act and the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

In particular, we request that you:

• investigate and make determinations of investments by foreign entities in Iran’s energy sector;

• impose at least 3, if not more, of the list of 9 sanctions against foreign entities that invest in Iran’s energy sector;

• impose at least 3, if not more, of the list of 9 sanctions against foreign entities – including energy, insurance, financing, and shipping companies – that aid Iran in importing refined petroleum or in maintaining or expanding Iran’s domestic refining capacity;

• impose financial sanctions that cut off from the U.S. financial system those foreign financial institutions that do business with sanctioned Iranian banks or with Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), or that aid Iran’s nuclear program or state sponsorship of terrorism;

• refuse to issue any licenses for the export of goods, services, or technology pursuant to a nuclear cooperation agreement with any country that has provided assistance to Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, missiles, or advanced conventional weapons;

• impose sanctions on parent companies if their subsidiaries engage in sanctionable activities;

• uphold the required designation of – and resulting restrictions on licenses to – countries that allow their territory to be used to divert to Iranian end-users items that are on relevant control lists, that are prohibited for export to Iran under United Nations Security Council resolutions, or that would aid Iran’s development of nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons, its ballistic missile or advanced conventional weapons capabilities, or its state sponsorship of terrorism;

• uphold increased restrictions on Iranian imports;

• uphold the requirement of a documented, verifiable certification from companies seeking to contract with the U.S. Government that they are not engaged in sanctionable activities;

• impose financial and property sanctions and a visa ban on, and list publicly, every person that was responsible for or complicit in the commission of serious human rights abuses against citizens of Iran or their family members; and

• uphold the prohibition on procurement contracts with entities that export technology to Iran that the regime could use to restrict or interfere with the exercise of freedom of speech or information.

International efforts have fallen short, meaning that the principal burden of stopping Tehran falls on the U.S. Given that Iran reportedly already has enough enriched uranium for two nuclear weapons and that its enrichment centrifuges continue to spin, the immediate and full implementation of crippling sanctions is vital to stopping Iran before it obtains nuclear weapons capabilities, as well as to address its other threatening policies and behavior. If we fail to take advantage of this opportunity, the consequences for our country, our interests, and our allies could be grave.

Therefore, Mr. President, we urge you to follow through on the commitment you articulated in a speech on March 2, 2007, where you called for “full implementation of U.S. sanctions laws” targeting Iran. Such action will also advance your commitment, as stated on June 4, 2008, that “I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.” By imposing these sanctions, and employing other authorities at your disposal, we can end this growing menace before it is too late.


ILEANA ROS-LEHTINEN, Ranking Member, House Committee on Foreign Affairs

JOHN BOEHNER, House Republican Leader

ERIC CANTOR, House Republican Whip

MIKE PENCE, Chairman, House Republican Conference

KEVIN McCARTHY, House Chief Deputy Republican Whip

DAN BURTON, Ranking Member, House Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia

EDWARD R. ROYCE, Ranking Member, House Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation, and Trade

SCOTT GARRETT, Ranking Member, House Subcommittee on Capital Markets, Insurance, and Government-Sponsored Enterprises

THADDEUS McCOTTER, Chairman, House Republican Policy Committee

TOM PRICE, Chairman, House Republican Study Committee