January 24, 2011
Contact: Dave Mohel
Phone: 703-548-1160

Christian Leaders Urge Congress to Enforce Iran Sanctions Act of 1996

Christian Leaders for a Nuclear Free Iran is urging Congress to exercise its oversight role in ensuring that the Administration vigorously enforces the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996, which mandates sanctions on firms that make energy-related investments in Iran exceeding $20 million.

According to a report in the Sunday, March 7 edition of the New York Times:

"The federal government has awarded more than $107 billion in contract payments, grants and other benefits over the past decade to foreign and multinational American companies while they were doing business in Iran, despite Washington's efforts to discourage investment there, records show.

"That includes nearly $15 billion paid to companies that defied American sanctions law by making large investments that helped Iran develop its vast oil and gas reserves."

The Coalition applauds Congress for passing their respective versions of Iran Sanctions legislation, and calls once again for swift action in agreeing to a common version and sending it to President Obama's desk for his signature.

But even the best sanctions legislation will be of little use if it is not enforced. CLFNFI strongly urges Congress to investigate why the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 has not been enforced, and how billions of dollars in taxpayer money has gone to firms violating the Act.

As the New York Times report makes clear, Republican and Democratic administrations alike have been lax in their enforcement of the Act. The coalition is not asking for a partisan blame game, but is simply asking Congress to make sure the Act is being properly enforced.

The 1996 Iran Sanctions Act gives the president several enforcement options against companies in violation of the Act. The President can prohibit the violators from gaining access to:

• Federal contracts
• Export-Import Bank loans,
• American bank loans exceeding $10 million in a given year
• American markets
• American military technology
• American Treasury Bonds

With this kind of flexibility, surely the President can convince companies doing substantial business with Iran that it is far better off with access to American markets than access to Iranian markets.