Last week, two bills aimed at limiting U.S. cash flow to Iran were sent to committee. Co-sponsors hope that by limiting cash flow to Iran, the U.S. might also limit undesirable actions taken by the country.
H.R. 1327: The Iran Sanctions Enabling Act of 2009 would “authorize State and local governments to direct divestiture from, and prevent investment in, companies with investments of $20,000,000 or more in Iran's energy sector, and for other purposes.” Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) introduced the bill to the House Committee on Financial Services on March 5, 2009. Eventually, the bill could be attached to other financial legislation moving out of the same committee.
The text of H.R. 1367, the Stop Business with Terrorists Act of 2009, is not yet available. The previous bill, introduced in 2008, called for strengthening “the liability of parent companies for violations of sanctions by foreign entities, and for other purposes.” This liability is null, however, “if the parent company divests or terminates its business with such entity not later than 90 days after such date of enactment.” H.R. 1367 was referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs on March 5, 2009 by Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY).
These bills threaten U.S. relations with Iran and have the ability to push the country further from the possibility of cooperation by increasing Iran’s isolation from the international community. Although a key goal of divestment is to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program, this legislation could influence Iran to push back against U.S. policies through the advancement of their nuclear program, terrorism and influence in Iraq. More sanctions are not the answer in Iran. The U.S. must pursue a dialogue with Iran that builds trust and decreases tension, easing fears on all sides.
For more information on divestment legislation, click here.