September 29, 2010

In New Iran Sanctions Bill, Congressman Targets Iranian Passenger Planes

Congressman Brad Sherman is planning to introduce legislation that would impose a number of new sanctions on Iran, including a measure that would “prohibit the sale of goods and services necessary for the repair of Iran’s civil aircraft,” according to a Congressional letter obtained by NIAC.

News of Sherman’s forthcoming legislation comes just a month after he wrote a controversial op-ed declaring that U.S. sanctions need to “hurt the Iranian people.”

Now, Rep. Sherman has proposed to target Iranian civilian flights, which could exacerbate Iran’s already abysmal flight safety record. Hundreds of civilian passengers on Iranian flights have been killed in plane crashes in the past decade. In the past 18 months alone, accidents on Iranian airlines have killed 172 Iranians, six Armenians, two Georgians, two Canadians, and two Iranian-Australians.

NIAC is leading the effort to oppose Rep. Sherman’s legislation and is urging everyone who concerned to urge their Member of Congress to oppose the measure.

Under existing law, the U.S. Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) may authorize the exportation to Iran of civilian aircraft parts and services for preserving flight safety. But these authorizations are rare and are often prevented, which is frequently cited as one of the primary reasons that Iran’s civilian flight safety record is so poor. Sherman’s legislation, however, would extend a complete ban on the exportation of civilian aircraft parts for Iran, removing OFAC’s authority to issue these licenses.

While the sweeping sanctions Congress passed in June eliminated several “goodwill gestures” such as the general license for importing Iranian carpets and pistachios, Congress had explicitly preserved OFAC’s power to authorize the exportation of civilian aircraft parts necessary to insure the safety of passenger flights in Iran.

Critics of recent Iran sanctions measures have warned that the Iranian people are bearing the brunt of the suffering. Prominent members of the Green Movement have condemned recent sanctions and warned that they are a gift to the Iranian government and provide the pretext to suppress the opposition. Sherman’s proposal for further sanctions comes as many of the sanctions from the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010 (CISADA) are just now going into effect.

The proposed legislation also contains a host of other sanctions provisions, and would cut funding to international institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if they provide any new assistance to Iran.

Sherman says his bill would also take further measures to prevent foreign subsidiaries of American firms from investing in Iran and would impose new extraterritorial sanctions to prevent the purchase Iranian bonds or other sovereign debt, or to purchase Iranian oil and natural gas futures. Foreign companies would also face new penalties if they form joint ventures with Iranian companies for investment outside of Iran, or for supplying Iran with mining or milling equipment. The measure also contains a number of provisions designed to enforce existing sanctions laws and to encourage divestment from companies that do business in Iran.

Write your Representative and urge them to oppose this legislation




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