Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons. The world's energy supply, the security of our forces and allies, and the future of the global nonproliferation regime are at stake. A nuclear Iran will lead to a multi-nuclear Middle East, a nightmare scenario in which numerous authoritarian and radical regimes possess nuclear weapons, and encourage other potential proliferators around the world to pursue their dangerous ambitions.
We must remain ready to engage with Iran and be prepared to make important concessions in order to address its legitimate concerns, but we must be realistic; recent history has shown that it is highly unlikely that Iran will agree to forgo its military nuclear capability under any circumstances. Iran has rejected all of President Obama's efforts to engage and its nuclear program continues unabated, indeed, is nearing completion. Thus, we must be prepared to take the steps necessary to ensure Iran does not achieve nuclear weapons.
We should seek crippling sanctions, ideally approved by the U.N.’s Security Council, our allies, and other important world powers, but if China and Russia do not cooperate in the Security Council, we should actively pursue multilateral sanctions with our allies. Sanctions must be as inclusive as possible in order to prevent their being circumvented by Iran by trading with non-participating partners.
Sanctions targeted at Iran's energy and financial industries could bring its economy to its knees and possibly force it to cease its nuclear program. Due to Iran's lack of domestic refining capacity it already imports some 40% of its refined petroleum products (gasoline and automotive oils). If the West was to cut off sales of these refined products to Iran, it would have a dramatic effect on its economy. Western refusal to buy Iranian crude oil would be devastating.
All means of stopping Iran must be on the table, including military options (naval embargo, targeted strikes against nuclear facilities), but there is no need for broader military action. To date, economic sanctions have not been pursued vigorously, thus, military options should remain on the back burner. Inadequate enforcement of economic sanctions and other non-military efforts to stop Iraq’s WMD program contributed to the U.S.’s prior decision to intervene militarily. We should not repeat that error.
The exciting domestic developments in Iran ('Green Revolution') give rise to new hopes for the emergence of a more moderate regime and for a positive change in our relations with this strategically important country.
Time, however, is running out. In the interim, we must pursue crippling American sanctions in order to conclusively demonstrate to Tehran the cons of its nuclear goals.
First, we must enforce current law, particularly the Iran Sanctions Act (Public Law 104-172), which addresses oil company investment in Iran.
Second, we must leverage informal banking industry measures to harden capital sanctions.
Third, we should expand these sanctions to also address gasoline and refining equipment, as in the Iran Diplomatic Enhancement Act of 2009 (H.R. 1985), Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 (H.R. 2194), and Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009 (S. 2799). A Conference bill should be completed, passed by the two houses, and sent to the President for his signature, within weeks.
We should also complete a Conference bill for the Comprehensive, Crippling, Mandatory Iran Sanctions Act, as soon as possible. This crippling sanctions Conference bill would include text from the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act (H.R. 1327) which protects investors from lawsuits related to divestment efforts; the Iran Revolutionary Guard Designation Implementation Act (H.R. 2375) which designates Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) fronts as terrorist organizations and authorizes sanctions on entities doing business with IRGC fronts; the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (originally S. 2799, text replaced with H.R. 2194 language and other tougher sanctions provisions); the Reduce Iranian Cyber-Suppression Act (H.R. 3284) which disallows federal government contracts for companies supplying enabling technologies for the Iranian government to spy on its citizens and suppress internet/electronic media; the International Uranium Extraction Control Act of 2009 (H.R. 2290) which authorizes sanctions on companies supplying mining and milling equipment; the Enable Divestment from Sudan and Iran Act (H.R. 3516) which allows ‘carry-over’ of divestment investments without interim capital gains taxation; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation Reauthorization Act (H.R. 2798) which would mandate certification of compliance with sanctions laws by companies receiving federal funds; the Iran Sanctions Enhancement Act (H.R. 4807) which requires monthly GAO reporting of companies non-compliant with the Iran Sanctions Act and requires Executive Branch response; and the Accountability for Business Choices in Iran Act (H.R. 3922) which also requires certification of compliance with U.S. government sanctions laws by companies receiving federal funding.
|© Copyright 2009 Daniel Freilich
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