Statement from the House Foreign Affairs Committee on H.R. 1905

May 16, 2011

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear

Related Country: 

  • Iran

Washington, DC -U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, along with Committee Ranking Member Howard L. Berman (D-CA) as the lead co-sponsor, on Friday introduced H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act, which seeks to close loopholes in current U.S. sanctions legislation which have allowed the Administration to avoid imposing the full range of available U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime. Statement by Ros-Lehtinen:

"U.S. policy towards Iran has offered a lot of bark, but not enough bite. This new bipartisan legislation would bring to bear the full weight of the U.S. by seeking to close the loopholes in existing energy and financial sanctions laws, while increasing the type and number of sanctions to be imposed.

"The threat posed by Iran to U.S. national security, our interests, and that of our allies, has reached a critical level. There is no time to waste. The goal of U.S. policy, working alone or leading other responsible nations, must be to compel the Iranian regime not just to cease, but to verifiably dismantle its nuclear weapons program and abandon its other unconventional weapons pursuits and state-sponsorship of global terrorist networks.

"Given the grave nature of the Iranian threat, it is my hope that my colleagues will support further strengthening the bill as it moves through the legislative process and not fall into the trap of enabling the Executive Branch to ignore U.S. law. Failing to move expeditiously to close these loopholes, and allowing the continued failure of successive administrations to vigorously enforce the sanctions currently on the books, strengthens Iran while leaving the U.S. and our allies more vulnerable."

BACKGROUND: Ros-Lehtinen was the lead co-sponsor of the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA), which was signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, and which strengthened and expanded U.S. sanctions against the Iranian regime. However, to date, only two companies (an Iranian state-owned firm and a Belarusian state-owned firm) have been sanctioned under CISADA and the underlying Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 for investment in Iran's energy sector.

H.R. 1905, the Iran Threat Reduction Act (ITRA), closes loopholes in both energy and financial sanctions and counters the Iranian regime's efforts to evade them. The bill strengthens sanctions on efforts by the regime to circumvent existing law, adds new sanctions, such as denying visas to individuals who engage in Iran's energy sector (which is more broadly defined by ITRA), and increases the number of sanctions the Administration is required to impose. It updates and replaces previous Iran sanctions laws to ensure that current law regarding the totality of the Iranian threat to U.S. national security, our interests, our allies, and also to its own people, is comprehensive. It targets capital markets and activities by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and its affiliates by incorporating provisions from bipartisan legislation introduced by my colleagues on the Committee. The bill eliminates some waivers, resulting in a mandate to impose sanctions on those who provide the Iranian regime with the materials, technologies, and other assistance to pursue its nuclear, chemical, biological, and missile programs. The bill also creates a new higher standard for waiver of energy sanctions by requiring the President, before waiving, to notify Congress and certify that failure to waive would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security interests of the U.S.

NOTE: Original co-sponsors of this legislation are U.S. Reps. Howard L Berman (D-CA), Dan Burton (R-IN), Edward R. Royce (R-CA), Brad Sherman (D-CA), Steve Chabot (R-OH), Gary Ackerman (D-NY), and Ted Deutch (D-FL).