April 24, 2009

More on latest AIPAC sanctions bill

Yesterday, we reported how Congress is considering two competing approaches to the Iran issue: sanctions vs. smart power.  While I think we’ve made our position pretty well known, I thought it would be helpful to look deeper into the new sanctions bill to see exactly what it’s calling for.
Basically, H.R. 1985 lowers the threshold for triggering sanctions on anyone investing in Iran’s petroleum industry from $40million to $20million.  AND it imposes sanctions on anyone who has:

‘(A) provided Iran with refined petroleum resources;
‘(B) engaged in an activity, including production, brokerage, insurance, and tanker delivery services, that could contribute to Iran’s ability to import refined petroleum resources; or
‘(C) provided Iran with goods, services, or technology for refining petroleum.’.

It also expresses the sense of Congress that the US should encourage foreign governments to stop state-owned investments in Iran’s energy sector and exports of refined petroleum to Iran AND where possible, require private entities to do the same.
In my opinion, the clause going after Lloyds of London for insuring oil tankers raises some hackles, particularly now that piracy is back in vogue.  Taken to its logical conclusion, I would think that part (B) above could target important American companies and companies of our allies–anyone who builds ships that might be used to send oil to Iran, anyone who helps purchase those ships, anyone who insures them, and anyone who operates them falls under this provision.  And part C probably includes many or most of the top global energy companies (if UANI’s divestment list is any indication).
This is a pretty aggressive expansion of sanctions against Iran; there’s simply no security argument for doing this other than to bring Iran to its knees (which is hardly the negotiating position we’ll need for talks to have any chance of success).
More to come.  Stay tuned.

Back to top