NFTC, USA*Engage Urge House to Oppose Unilateral Iran Sanctions Bill"

Tuesday, 15 December 2009
Washington, DC – In a letter sent to all members of the U.S. House of Representatives, the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and USA*Engage yesterday urged policymakers to oppose H.R. 2194, a bill which would amend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 by expanding U.S. unilateral sanctions against Iran. The letter warned that instead of delivering a “crippling blow” to the Iranian regime, the bill would fall short in meeting its intended goals and would unfairly penalize U.S. industry and companies operating in the same countries engaged in applying multilateral pressure on Iran’s leaders.

NFTC President Bill Reinsch and USA*Engage Director Richard Sawaya wrote the following:

“The proposed legislation would also amend the Iran Sanctions Act so that U.S. companies with no involvement in Iran’s energy sector would nevertheless be penalized. Specifically, the bill would change the definition of “person” to include financial institutions, underwriters, guarantors, any other business organizations, including any foreign subsidiaries, parents or affiliates of such a business organization, and export credit agencies.  Adding insurers and re-insurers, as well as ECAs that might have any connection to Iran’s energy sector, including petroleum product imports, could preclude Ex-Im Bank from doing business with them to co-finance major U.S. exporters that have no relation to Iran’s energy sector.  Moreover, any U.S. company with business dealings with a foreign based company that in turn has any relation with Iran’s energy sector could be subject to sanctions.  Given the realities of global commerce, such an outcome would harm the U.S. and alienate our allies.”

“The expansive nature of this bill will have a number of unintended consequences for U.S. and foreign companies. While the legislation is aimed at hitting Iran where it hurts, these sanctions will have a boomerang effect and will end up harming U.S. economic and diplomatic interests in the long run,” said Reinsch.

“By proposing to penalize companies with no ties to Iran’s energy sector, export and job growth are at risk here at home,” said Sawaya. “The NFTC and USA*Engage are fundamentally opposed to unilateral sanctions because they are ineffective in achieving their stated purpose, and leave much collateral damage – in this case U.S. economic growth – in their wake.”