USA*Engage Expresses Deep Disappointment Over Senate Approval of Iran Sanctions Amendment

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Washington, DC – USA*Engage today released the following statement in response to the U.S. Senate's approval of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which would impose additional U.S. unilateral sanctions on Iran.

"We are deeply disappointed with the Senate's vote to approve amendment 1414 to the defense authorization bill. While the amendment was likely well-intentioned and aimed at making a strong political statement to the Iranian regime, as history has proven time and time again, unilateral U.S. sanctions are ineffective. Today's vote was both ill-timed and ill-advised. Should world oil prices spike as a result, Iran will be the beneficiary," said Bill Reinsch, President of the National Foreign Trade Council and Co-Chair of USA*Engage.

"Just last week, the United States joined with our allies in the international community in a coordinated effort to enact ‘smart,' multilateral sanctions on Iran – a move that USA*Engage welcomed – and now we have the Senate working at cross-purposes to enact stand-alone unilateral sanctions legislation," said Richard Sawaya, Director of USA*Engage. "Saying that the amendment approved today is ‘counterproductive' is an understatement. It could jeopardize the strength of the entire international consensus on multilateral Iran sanctions the United States has worked so hard to develop."

In a letter sent today by U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner to Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin today, "...this amendment threatens severe sanctions against any commercial bank or central bank if they engage in certain transactions with the CBI [Central Bank of Iran]. This could negatively affect many of our closest allies and largest trading partners. Rather than motivating these countries to join us in increasing pressure on Iran, they are more likely to resent our actions and resist following our lead – a consequence that would serve the Iranians more than it harms them."

USA*Engage on Monday sent a letter to Senators urging them to oppose any Iran sanctions-related amendments to the defense authorization bill.