WASHINGTON - Today Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd (D-CT) announced he is working on a bill to expand the President's ability to sanction Iran as the United States heads towards negotiations with that country. The Senate Banking Committee has jurisdiction over financial and economic sanctions.
"If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability, it would pose a significant threat to peace and security in the Middle East, especially to our close ally Israel," said Dodd. "That is a threat to both national security and global stability - and it cannot be allowed to stand unchallenged."
"As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, I intend to introduce legislation that will arm the administration with the ability to impose tough, targeted sanctions if Iran does not respond to our final diplomatic effort in the coming weeks."
Dodd's announcement comes as the United States is set to begin talks with Iran in Geneva on Thursday. Last week Iran admitted to having a secret uranium enrichment facility and on Monday Iran announced it had test fired missiles that could reach Israel, parts of Europe and U.S. Bases in the Persian Gulf.
"Congress must equip President Obama with a full range of tools to deal with the threats posed by Iran," said Dodd.
The Banking Committee will hold a hearing on Iran on October 6th.
The bill would:
â€¢ expand the Iran Sanctions Act to cover a range of financial institutions and businesses and extend sanctions to oil and gas pipelines and tankers;
â€¢ impose new sanctions on entities involved in exporting certain refined petroleum products to Iran or building Iran's domestic refining capacity;
â€¢ impose a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the US and exports from the US to Iran, exempting food and medicines;
â€¢ strengthen the Administration's ability to freeze the assets of Iranians active in weapons proliferation or terrorism;
â€¢ require the President to determine and report to Congress if investments in Iran's energy sector are eligible for sanctions;
â€¢ enable Americans to divest from energy firms doing business with the Iranian regime; and
â€¢ strengthen export controls to stop the illegal export of sensitive technology to countries like Iran, and impose tough new licensing requirements on those who refuse to cooperate.
Below is the Chairman's full statement as prepared for delivery.
"Mr. President, it has been a tumultuous year in Iran."
"The Iranian regime has continued to pursue its nuclear ambitions, fund terrorist activities throughout the Middle East, and repress its own people. The world watched this repression play out in the wake of this summer's illegitimate elections, when brave and peaceful protestors were violently attacked."
"If Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons capability, it would pose a significant threat to peace and security in the Middle East, especially to our close ally Israel, not to mention others in the region as well as ourselves."
"For years the Iranian regime has refused reasonable requests by the international community. And it has failed to meet its obligations under international non-proliferation rules."
"President Obama has undertaken a very aggressive dual-track approach and I commend him for it, offering high-level engagement with Tehran matched with sustained pressure through economic sanctions and a warning that Iran won't be allowed to run out the clock."
"As Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, I intend to introduce legislation to arm this administration with the ability to impose tough, targeted sanctions if Iran does not respond to our final diplomatic efforts in the coming weeks."
"We must confront Iran's government with its long record of duplicity and deception on its nuclear facilities."
"Last week, President Obama revealed that Iran is building a secret uranium enrichment facility in violation of international rules. The President and our allies have rightly insisted that IAEA inspectors be allowed to access this facility. And over the weekend, Iran moved forward on provocative missile tests."
"In two days, the United States and our allies will begin key talks with Iran's leaders. Unfortunately, Iran's President has already suggested that appropriate limits to his country's nuclear enrichment program are off the table."
"Strong international rejection of election abuses, renewed support of our allies and tensions within the Iranian regime now offer reasons for hope that Iran might be forced to change course, but it will be difficult, to put it mildly. It will require sustained diplomatic efforts to ensure all of our strategic partners--the Europeans, the Russians, the Chinese, the Indians and moderate Arab states throughout the Middle East-join this effort."
"We will only succeed if Iran is confronted by the prospect of sustained, progressively intensifying multilateral economic and diplomatic pressure on its government-including tougher sanctions. "
"This week's negotiations should confront Iran's leaders with a clear choice: end illegitimate efforts to enrich uranium, halt proliferation efforts, and stop support for terrorists around the world -- or continue to deepen Iran's isolation and ruin its economy."
"I support the administration's efforts to engage Iran while making clear that biting sanctions will follow if they continue to refuse to meet the demands of the international community for greater transparency."
"Administration officials have outlined to me a menu of additional tough multilateral sanctions that they are considering imposing and are working to broaden support among our allies."
"Congress must equip the President with a full range of tools to deal with the threats posed by Iran. In the last Congress, the Banking Committee, which I chair, approved comprehensive legislation to impose tough new sanctions on the government of Iran; authorize investors to divest from companies active in Iran's energy sector; and combat black-market networks spreading weapons around the world. Unfortunately, floor consideration in this body was repeatedly blocked by a small minority of this chamber."
"Given the rising stakes, I intend to work with my committee colleagues, Ranking Member Senator Shelby, to press forward similar sanctions legislation in the next few weeks."
"I want to congratulate Senators Lieberman and Bayh for their leadership on this issue, including their legislation to impose further sanctions on entities involved in importing gasoline to Iran or in assisting Iran's efforts to expand its domestic refining capacity."
"Iran's energy sector is a key source of revenue to the government -- and Iran is especially susceptible because of its dependence on imported gasoline. So I will integrate these critical provisions into the legislation I will be offering. Our legislation will be targeted and strategic, maximizing the economic leverage of the United States, our partners and allies, and investors while avoiding the risks of a more indiscriminate approach."
"The bill would also expand coverage under the Iran Sanctions Act to include financial institutions, underwriters, guarantors, and other business entities, and extend the applicability of sanctions to oil and gas pipelines and tankers."
"It would impose a broad ban on direct imports from Iran to the US and exports from the US to Iran of those few items still able to be so shipped, while exempting food and medicines."
"It will strengthen existing authority to freeze the assets of Iranians active in weapons proliferation or terrorist activity, and make it clear that US entities who establish a subsidiary to get around sanctions laws will be held liable for the activities of their subsidiaries."
"Finally, it would impose new requirements that the President actually make a determination, and report every 6 months to Congress, regarding the sanctionability of eligible investments in Iran's energy sector."
"In addition to expanding US sanctions, the bill would also establish a simple formula authorizing divestment from firms which invest significant amounts in Iran's energy sector, with provisions patterned after the Sudan Accountability and Divestment Act enacted two years ago."
"Many of us believe that Americans should be able to divest from energy firms doing business with the Iranian regime whose policies they abhor, and which indirectly help to prop up the regime. They should be given the tools they need to make socially responsible decisions. And investors who choose to divest-states, large pension and mutual funds, and others-should be held harmless for these decisions. Investing in Iran is risky business, and investors should be fully informed of those risks going in. The legislation we will be writing does not require divestment; it simply permits it."
"Finally, this bill will provide incentives for countries to strengthen their export control systems to stop the illegal diversion of sensitive dual-use technology to countries like Iran, and impose tough new licensing requirements on those who refuse to cooperate. As we confront the realities of a global marketplace, with manufacturers assembling parts of complex machinery such as aircraft and computers from a supply chain spanning the globe, and as regimes like Iran, North Korea, and Syria trawl various trans-shipment hubs for such parts to assemble high-tech weapons, it makes sense to address this problem head-on."
"We have developed a way to do this, with an array of carrots and sticks to prod unwilling countries to get serious about developing and implementing tough, comprehensive export control rules and systems."
"Our European and other allies continue to work closely with the US to increase economic and diplomatic pressure on Iran."
"I believe our legislation will complement and reinforce those ongoing diplomatic efforts, and send a very, very clear signal to Iran's government of what's in store if they continue to flaunt the will of the international community."
"Congress will be moving forward on the same timetable that the President and our allies have set for this fall, to underscore to Iran's leaders the huge price they will pay - economically, politically, diplomatically, and otherwise - if they do not change course."
"Mr. President, the government of Iran must come clean on its nuclear program, which as President Obama observed last week represents a direct challenge to the basic foundation of the international nonproliferation regime. I hope my colleagues will join us in supporting efforts in the coming weeks to make clear to the Iranians that we in the United States Congress, Democrats and Republicans alike stand with President Obama in our determination to confront this problem forcefully, and urgently, before it is too late."