Congressman Howard L. Berman (D-CA), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation designed to help prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapons capability.
"Our country has a vital national security interest in ensuring that Iran not possess nuclear arms or achieve the means to produce them on short notice," Berman said. "The purpose of my bill is to demonstrate to one and all - but particularly to the Iranian regime - the importance that the U.S. Congress places on the Iranian nuclear issue.
"I fully support the Administration's strategy of direct diplomatic engagement with Iran, and I have no intention of moving this bill though the legislative process in the near future," Berman continued. "In fact, I hope that Congress will never need to take any action on this legislation, for that would mean that Iran at last has complied with the repeatedly-expressed demand of the international community to verifiably suspend its uranium enrichment program and to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons once and for all.
"I share President Obama's conviction that it is unacceptable for Iran to possess nuclear weapons and his determination to seek a diplomatic solution to this issue," Berman said. "However, should engagement with Iran not yield the desired results in a reasonable period of time, we will have no choice but to press forward with additional sanctions - such as those contained in this bill - that could truly cripple the Iranian economy.
"In that respect, I am pleased that Secretary of State Clinton has said that she is already intensively engaged with our allies and other key states in the international community to lay the groundwork for tougher sanctions in the event that diplomatic efforts are inconclusive or unsuccessful."
The Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act (IRPSA) requires that any foreign entity that sells refined petroleum to Iran - or otherwise enhances Iran's ability to import refined petroleum such as financing, brokering, underwriting, or providing ships for such activity - will be effectively barred from doing business in the United States. The legislation, H.R. 2194, also applies to any entity that provides goods or services that enhance Iran's ability to maintain or expand its domestic production of refined petroleum.
Due to its limited refining capability, Iran is forced to import roughly one-quarter of the gasoline and other refined petroleum products it consumes. Without this outside help, much of the Iranian economy would grind to a halt.