NFTC and USA*Engage Express Disappointment Over House Approval of Unilateral Iran Sanctions Bill

Wednesday, 1 August 2012
Say Enough Sanctions, Already

Washington, DC – The National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and USA*Engage today released the following statement in response to the House of Representatives’ approval of a bill to impose additional U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran.

“Congress, impelled by election year politics, has voted overwhelmingly to impose additional economic sanctions on Iran. This is unfortunate, but not surprising,” said USA*Engage Director Richard Sawaya. “Today’s action ignores Iran’s experience of three embargos since the 1950s and, in effect, attempts to cut Iran off from the global financial system and restrict the country’s exports of crude oil through the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Right Act of 2012.”

“The House has taken this action in the name of diplomacy, but it would severely constrain the Administration’s space for negotiations. In a moment of frankness, its foremost supporters candidly admit sanctions will not alter Iranian nuclear decision-making, but instead offer the justification that sanctions will so harm ordinary Iranians that they will overthrow the ruling regime – a hypothesis that does not stand up to the record of history,” said Sawaya.

“At least, the commitment to continuing duly licensed humanitarian trade in agricultural products, food, medicine and medical products with Iran is cited in the legislation – though its viability is threatened by the financial sanctions,” Sawaya concluded.

“Apparently, the old saw – if one’s only tool is a hammer, everything becomes a nail – trumps Einstein’s definition of insanity when it comes to U.S. relations with Iran,” said NFTC President Bill Reinsch. “To the degree that U.S. sanctions on Iran ‘work,’ they will effectively expand the control of the Revolutionary Guards over Iran’s economy, provide the regime with fodder to fuel anti-Americanism in a population until now distinguished in the region by pro-American sentiments, and a firm floor over global oil prices, nullifying the production ‘good news’ from North America and elsewhere.”

“Moreover, the hidden effects on U.S. multinationals – none of whom operate in Iran – makes the business of doing business in a global economy that much more difficult in terms of avoiding contractual obligations with entities that may be caught in the sanctions net. Ever-expanding economic sanctions enshrined as U.S. law hardly seem calculated to promote world economic activity,” said Reinsch.