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December 10, 2008

Ros-Lehtinen introduces bill to block UAE nuclear deal over Iran smuggling

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced a bill today (H.R. 7316) blocking a 123 Agreement with the UAE over that country’s shipments of goods to Iran despite current sanctions.
Basically, this bill would prohibit the US from entering into a civilian nuclear agreement with the UAE until it stops shipments of goods, services, and technology to Iran currently under US and UN sanctions.
One passage that stands out in this bill extends the prohibition until the UAE “has developed and implemented the appropriate or necessary legislative and functional actions to target the logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations.”  Huh?
I think it’s safe to assume “logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations” is a convoluted way of saying Iran’s financial and military sectors.  The intentionally vague language here makes it nearly impossible for the UAE ever to satisfy this requirement.
As for the rest of the bill, it’s pretty straightforward–no seriously inflammatory rhetoric toward Iran–just a hard-nosed ultimatum to the UAE: stop going around our Iran sanctions or we won’t send you our high-tech stuff.
And for anyone who paid attention to the US-Russia 123 Agreement from this summer, you’ll notice a popular proposal that surfaced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee: changing the procedure for granting Congressional approval to 123 Agreements.
Under existing rules, the President submits a 123 Agreement to Congress for review.  After 90 days, unless Congress adopts a resolution blocking its entry into force, the agreement is adopted.  This bill would reverse that process, and require explicit Congressional approval for any agreement to be approved.
This is a pretty popular idea, in part because this summer the Bush administration waited too long to submit the Russia deal to Congress and consequently, there weren’t even 90 days left in the term.  It’s pretty clear the old procedure doesn’t make a lot of sense, so look for this bill to get noticed by a HFAC members from both sides of the aisle.

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