FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – The National Iranian American Council is deeply concerned that the “Iran Threat Reduction Act,” as passed by the House Foreign Affairs Committee today, will make Americans less safe and will hurt the Iranian people – not the regime – by making sanctions even more indiscriminate. The bill, H.R. 1905, makes it illegal for U.S. diplomats to engage their Iranian counterparts, strips the President’s authority to license the repair of Iran’s aging civilian aircraft to prevent needless civilian deaths, and imposes indiscriminate sanctions that would increase gas prices and hurt the Iranian people.
“This bill is beyond extreme,” said NIAC policy director Jamal Abdi. “It binds the hands of the President and our diplomats, setting our foreign policy in a very dangerous direction.”
The bill gives the President a 30-day deadline to make a sanctions determination against the Central Bank of Iran.
“This will punish ordinary people in Iran, spike gas prices worldwide, and cost jobs in the U.S.” said Abdi. “We’ve been down this road before. Sanctions on Iraq’s central bank failed to change Saddam Hussein’s regime, contributed to humanitarian suffering, and ultimately ended with a war.
The bill makes it illegal for any American diplomat to have contact with any Iranian official who “presents a threat to the United States or is affiliated with terrorist organizations” unless the President certifies to Congress that not talking to the Iranian officials “would pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the vital national security interests of the United States” 15 days in advance.
“This makes war more likely by making it illegal for U.S. officials to engage their Iranian counterparts.” said Abdi. “What if Kennedy had to wait 15 days for Congress’ permission to meet with the Soviets to prevent the Cuban missile crisis – which lasted 13 days – from ending in nuclear war?”
The legislation would likely outlaw a proposal to open a line of communication with Iran that was championed by America’s top military official, Admiral Mike Mullen, before he retired last month.
The bill also revokes the President’s authority to license the export of civilian aircraft parts and repairs for Iranian civilian aircraft to ensure safety of flight for humanitarian reasons.
“Sanctioning Iran’s civilian aircraft doesn’t just endanger innocent Iranians, it also puts the lives of the nearly 1 million Iranian Americans who travel to Iran at risk,” said Abdi. “This bill punishes the Iranian people, not the regime.”
A recent poll of Iranian Americans found that 75% travel to Iran, meaning this bill puts nearly 1 million American citizens in danger.
Iranian opposition leaders, like Mehdi Karroubi, have called sanctions “a gift to the regime,” that empowers hardliners in the Iranian government rather than weakening them.