USA*Engage Statement on House Foreign Affairs Committee Markup of Sanctions Legislation

Wednesday, 2 November 2011
Washington, DC – USA*Engage released the following statement in response to today's House Foreign Affairs Committee markup of H.R.1905 and H.R.2105, legislation which would impose additional unilateral sanctions on Iran, North Korea and Syria.

"Today's actions by the House Foreign Affairs Committee to legislate even more draconian, extraterritorial and unilateral sanctions on Iran and apply similar measures regarding North Korea and Syria fly in the face of facts on the ground, the demonstrable failure of previous sanctions to achieve their stated purpose and the basic rules of diplomacy among nations. The Committee's approach would foreclose any constructive engagement by the Administration and put the United States on a forced march to counterproductive confrontation," stated Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-chair of USA*Engage.  

Regarding Iran, H.R.1905 – the Iran Threat Reduction Act – would extend U.S. sanctions to attempt an indirect embargo on Iranian crude sales and Iran's oil and gas activities worldwide – a replay of the sanctions regime employed against Iraq that only strengthened Sadaam Hussein's Baath regime. H.R.2105 – the Iran, North Korea and Syria Nonproliferation Reform and Modernization Act – would place a similar straitjacket on the complex bilateral relations between the United States and the Russian Federation.  In both cases, the Committee's actions would have counterproductive consequences with respect to the very issues of nuclear weaponization and terrorism the measures are intended to address. In the case of the Iran legislation, its full application could produce a major increase in world oil prices to the extent it constrained Iranian crude sales.

"As Fareed Zakaria has recently observed after a trip to Tehran, the sanctions in place have indeed damaged Iran's economy by weakening what is left of the legitimate private sector, yet strengthening the grip of the ruling regime. Exactly what transpired with the sanctions placed on Iraq in the 1990s," said Richard Sawaya, Director of USA*Engage. "The new sanctions envisioned in the legislation are anything but smart, and will handicap the Administration's efforts to achieve a multilateral approach to addressing Iranian nuclear and terrorism issues, which is the only approach that may be effective."