March 8, 2007

Iran Counter-Proliferation Act of 2007 will close loopholes letting Administration waive sanctions, and get tough on companies, countries doing business with Iran

Washington, DC – Congressman Tom Lantos (D-CA), chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, introduced legislation today that will end the Administration’s practice of waiving sanctions on corporations that do large-scale business with Iran’s energy sector, and in various ways will expand bilateral sanctions intended to cut off funds that currently support and sustain Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act (H.R. 1400) will “exponentially increase economic pressure on Iran and empower our diplomatic efforts by strengthening the Iran Sanctions Act,” Lantos said. “Iran's theocracy must understand that it cannot pursue a nuclear weapons program without jeopardizing the political and economic future of the Iranian state.”

Lantos’ bill will put an end to the Administration's ability to waive sanctions against foreign companies that invest in Iran's energy industry.

 “Until now, by shamelessly exploiting its waiver authority and other flexibility in the law, the Executive Branch has never sanctioned any foreign oil company which invested in Iran. Those halcyon days for the oil industry are over,” Lantos said.

The bill will prohibit nuclear cooperation between the United States and any country that provides nuclear assistance to Iran. It will also increase economic pressure on Iran by expanding the types of investment subject to sanctions, severely limiting the export of U.S. items to Iran, ending all imports from Iran, and preventing U.S. subsidiaries of foreign oil companies that invest in Iran’s oil sector from receiving U.S. tax benefits for oil and gas exploration.

“The reason for this all-encompassing approach -- and for its urgency -- is that we have so little time,” Lantos said. “Iran is forging ahead with its nuclear program, in blatant defiance of the unanimous will of the UN Security Council and the International Atomic Energy Agency. Before it is too late, we must try to persuade others to join us in increasing the diplomatic and economic pressure on Iran.”