Washington, D.C. – Today, the House of Representatives passed by an overwhelming majority the bipartisan “Nuclear Iran Prevention Act,” introduced by U.S. Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY), Ranking Member of the Committee. The legislation, H.R. 850, increases pressure on the Iranian regime amid its continued attempt to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.
The legislation, with 378 co-sponsors, broadens economic sanctions, strengthens human rights sanctions, and increases oversight of the implementation and enforcement of existing sanctions.
Chairman Royce on the bill’s passage: “Iran may have a new president, but its march toward a nuclear program continues. The economic and political pressure on Tehran must be ratcheted-up. Today the House took a critical step toward crippling this regime to prevent a nuclear Iran and the dire security consequences.”
Ranking Member Engel said: “Congressional efforts to impose new sanctions should not be based on the Iranian political calendar. Today’s vote illustrates that the paramount consideration of the Congress is the Iranian nuclear clock – the amount of time it will take Tehran to achieve a nuclear weapons capability. If President Rouhani truly has the will and authority to make a bold gesture on Iran’s nuclear program – such as suspending enrichment -- he has a small window of opportunity before this bill becomes law. I think all of us would welcome such a gesture, but until that point we will continue to pursue a path of diplomatic pressure on the Iranian regime.
H.R. 850 focuses on the following:
- Hitting Iran’s Achilles’ Heel: Strengthens existing sanctions by compelling countries that are currently purchasing crude oil from Iran to reduce their combined purchases by a total of 1,000,000 barrels per day within a year. By taking 1,000,000 barrels per day of Iranian crude oil off of the market within a year (with safeguards to ensure that international oil markets can withstand such a reduction), the Iranian regime would continue to lose the funding that it requires to pay for its nuclear program, ballistic missiles, and sponsorship of terrorism.
- Economic Squeeze: Penalizes foreign persons who engage in significant commercial trade with Iran. This would use the same model – targeting transactions through the Central Bank or a designated Iranian bank - that has successfully curtailed Iran’s oil trade over the past year.
- Blacklisting Iranian Economic Sectors: Expands the list of sectors of the Iranian economy effectively blacklisted to include the automotive and mining sectors. The provision also requires that the President make a determination within 45 days as to whether to blacklist the construction and engineering sectors. Last Congress, legislation enacted into law blacklisted the energy, shipping and shipbuilding sectors.
- Denying Iran’s foreign currency reserves: Prevents Tehran from accessing billions in overseas foreign currency reserves.
- Shipping Denied: Bars entry to the United States of vessels registered in countries that also register Iranian vessels or vessels operating on behalf of Iran. These additional shipping sanctions limit the ability of the Iranian regime to engage in international commerce.
- Human Rights Abusers: Stiffer penalties for human rights violators by applying the financial sector sanctions in existing law for terrorism and proliferation to transactions involving human rights violators; persons transferring technologies to Iran that are likely to be used to commit human rights abuses; and persons who engage in censorship against citizens of Iran; and corrupt officials that confiscate humanitarian and other goods for their own benefit. It also forces the Administration to make determinations with respect to high ranking Iranian officials and their human rights violations.
Royce and Engel introduced H.R. 850 in February. In May, the Foreign Affairs Committee approved the measure unanimously.