Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Eliot L. Engel, the top Democrat on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, delivered the below remarks as prepared for delivery at Wednesday's full Committee markup of H.R. 850, The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for calling today’s markup on H.R. 850 – The Nuclear Iran Prevention Act of 2013.
It’s been a pleasure working with you and your staff in a bipartisan manner to craft this important legislation, which now has more than 330 cosponsors from both sides of the aisle.
We share the goal of preventing a nuclear-capable Iran, which would pose a grave threat to the US and our allies, and I could not ask for a better partner in this effort.
Last week, the State Department’s lead negotiator in the P5+1 negotiations with Iran, Ambassador Wendy Sherman, appeared before this committee. Her testimony confirmed that Iran continues to reject diplomatic efforts to resolve this crisis, and is not prepared to abandon its dangerous and illegal nuclear weapons program.
As I mentioned at the hearing, I don’t think Iran will ever negotiate in good faith unless we ratchet up the pressure, and that is the purpose of the legislation before us today.
Previous sanctions legislation reduced Iran’s oil exports by one million barrels a day, from roughly 2.5 million barrels a day to less than 1.5 million barrels. We have written this bill to cut Iran’s oil exports by yet another million barrels a day, a reduction of two-thirds from Iran’s current exports. Shrinking Iran’s oil exports to less than a half-million barrels a day will be the strongest step we have taken thus far to pressure Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program and support for terrorism.
The legislation also strengthens existing sanctions by authorizing the President to restrict significant commercial trade with Iran. It uses the same model – sanctioning transactions through the Central Bank of Iran or a designated Iranian bank – that has successfully targeted Iran’s oil trade over the past year.
In addition, the bill seeks to deny the Iranian regime hard currency by enhancing our ability to work with European allies in cutting off Iran’s access to Euro-denominated transactions.
Finally, our bill imposes new sanctions against Iranian shipping and ports, and expands existing sanctions against Iranian human rights violators and those who aid and abet human rights abuses by transferring certain technologies to Iran.
Today, Members will have the opportunity to offer amendments to improve this legislation, and hopefully make our sanctions regime even more effective. I look forward to supporting those amendments.
With Iran moving full speed ahead on its nuclear weapons program, time is of the essence. I hope we can bring this bill to the floor as soon as possible, work out differences with our partners in the Senate, and get it to the President’s desk without delay.
Mr. Chairman, I’m proud to be part of this bipartisan effort to address the most critical national security challenge facing our nation today, and I look forward to working with you to ensure that the strongest possible sanctions are enacted into law.