FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Washington, DC – NIAC and leading Iranian-American, Jewish-American, arms control, human rights, democracy, and pro-peace organizations sent the following letter today calling on Members of the House and Senate to oppose or demand significant changes to new Iran sanctions legislation (H.R.1905 and S.1048):
National Iranian American Council * Americans for Peace Now * Council for a Livable World * Fellowship of Reconciliation * Friends Committee on National Legislation * Just Foreign Policy * Peace Action * Peace Action West * Physicians for Social Responsibility * Project On Middle East Democracy * United4Iran * Women’s Action for New Directions * 3D Security
June 2, 2011
To: Members of the House and Senate
We write to express our serious concerns with recently introduced Iran sanctions legislation – H.R.1905 and S.1048. We take the challenges posed by Iran very seriously, including its nuclear program, its human rights situation, and its role in the Middle East. As drafted, H.R. 1905 and S.1048 would pose a significant setback to resolving these issues.
H.R.1905 and S.1048 would effectively impose an oil embargo on Iran that could inflict economic costs on the U.S. and humanitarian costs on the Iranian people. The bills would also weaken the President’s authority to conduct Iran policy and hinder the pursuit of a peaceful resolution to our issues with Iran. Furthermore, these measures would undermine, not help, Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.
At a time of economic uncertainty at home and around the globe, it is surprising that Congress would consider exacerbating this crisis through a virtual oil embargo that would reduce the world oil supply, drive up the price of gas, and potentially enrich the Iranian government’s coffers. We have also learned from past experience that the humanitarian toll of such measures can be massive, as evidenced by the oil embargo on Iraq that was estimated by UNICEF to have contributed to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children.
Additionally, these bills would weaken the President’s authority to conduct foreign policy regarding Iran and would threaten to unravel the significant achievements of the Obama Administration in uniting an international community that was previously divided in its approach to Iran. By limiting the President’s discretion regarding how sanctions are implemented, these bills would mandate a go-it-alone approach that would erode the critically important international consensus on Iran established through the Obama Administration’s diplomatic efforts.
Finally, we are troubled that this legislation ignores the views of Iranian human rights and democracy activists. Iranian human rights defenders like Shirin Ebadi have highlighted how U.S. sanctions have prevented the people of Iran from accessing Internet services and procuring Internet-related hardware, and software. Leaders of Iran’s Green Movement like Mehdi Karoubi have warned that sanctions and isolation policies only make the Iranian people’s aspirations for human rights and democracy more difficult to achieve. Unfortunately, these bills fail to ease Internet restrictions and perpetuate harmful isolation and sanctions policies.
At a time of great change in the Middle East, we must remember that the first democratic protests of the region began in June 2009 on the streets of Iran. As the U.S. seeks to resolve the totality of challenges presented by Iran, including its nuclear program, it must reject policies that would punish and weaken the Iranian people, who continue to aspire for human rights and democracy.
We urge Members of the House and Senate to oppose or demand significant changes to H.R. 1905 and S.1048 to ensure Congress does not inflict economic pain at home and humanitarian suffering in Iran, undermine the President, and ignore the calls of Iran’s human rights and democracy movement.