Thursday, October 29, 2009

U.S. Lawmakers Push for Harder Line on Iran

House Committee Approves Sanctions Targeting Iranian Access to Oil

Experts on Sanctions
Examples of Successful Sanctions
Twelve Ways to Prevent a Nuclear Iran

The House Foreign Affairs Committee, intent on preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons, approved a bill Wednesday (Oct. 28) targeting companies that supply the Islamic Republic with much-needed refined oil.[1] To read more about the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act, see section below, "Restricting access to refined oil." Economic Sanctions: Stopping Iran’s Nuclear Program with Proven Methods

As the international community confronts Iran over its expanding nuclear program, members of the P5+1 (the United States, UK, France, China, Russia and Germany) are considering additional economic sanctions as a method of peacefully preventing the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons.[2]

Existing sanctions have not yet gone far enough or had enough multilateral support to persuade Iran to abandon its pursuit of nuclear weapons. So far, China and Russia have resisted efforts to implement more meaningful sanctions because of their lucrative trade relationships with the regime.[3]

Following are examples of two countries – Libya and South Africa - that prove sanctions can serve as peaceful change agents:

Libya. The United States implemented a string of sanctions against Libya beginning in 1984 in response to Libya’s support for international terrorism. The United States ramped up economic pressure after the discovery that Libya had been involved in the bombing of a German discotheque that killed two Americans.[4] In 1988, Libya perpetrated the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 189 Americans and 81 others.[5]

In 1996, Congress passed the Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA),[6] targeting Libya for its development of petroleum resources due to its refusal to turn over the suspects in the Lockerbie bombing, continuing support for terrorism and maintaining its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) program.[7]

According to the State Department, “This pressure helped to bring about the Lockerbie settlement and Libya's renunciation of WMD and MTCR-class missiles.”[8] Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi released the Lockerbie bombers for trial in 1999, agreed to pay reparations and abandoned its illegal weapons program and its support for terrorism. As Libya took steps to dismantle its weapons program, the United States moved towards normalization, with President Bush stopping enforcement of ILSA in 2004[9] and Congress lifting all remaining sanctions in 2008.[10]

South Africa. Congress imposed hard-hitting sanctions on South Africa in 1986 to pressure the ruling Nationalist Party to end apartheid, the system of segregating blacks and other minority groups from the white population. Overriding the veto of then-President Ronald Reagan,[11] Congress passed the Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986 banning Americans from making new investments and loans in South Africa and prohibiting a variety of goods from import and export.[12]

Black South African leaders, notably Bishop Desmond Tutu, welcomed the sanctions as a way to pressure the regime.[13] Combined with diplomatic pressure and moral support for the oppressed black majority, economic sanctions helped lead South African President F. W. de Klerk to release African National Congress (ANC) leader Nelson Mandela and begin negotiations with the ANC, leading to the creation of a multi-racial democracy. Then-President George H. W. Bush lifted the sanctions in 1991 after he determined that South Africa had fulfilled the conditions set forth in the sanctions legislation.[14]

Experts’ Ideas for Further Sanctions Against Iran

Restricting access to refined oil: Despite Iran’s vast oil fields and status as a major crude oil exporter, the Islamic Republic imports 40 percent of its gasoline because of its inability to refine much of its own oil.[15] Recognizing this vulnerability, a majority in both the U.S. Congress and Senate now support the Iran Refined Petroleum Sanctions Act of 2009 (H.R. 2194 and S. 908).

This legislation would severely restrict Iran’s access to refined oil by lowering the legal threshold for investment in Iran’s petroleum sector and targeting those who insure, finance or ship refined oil to Iran. Orde Kittrie, a law professor at Arizona State University and expert on Iran, has noted that sanctions would show Iranian citizens that their government must be held responsible for its actions. “Squeezing Iran’s gasoline imports would remind the Iranian people that instead of choosing to invest in improving refining capacity to meet Iran’s growing demands, the Iranian government has chosen to invest in a nuclear program that…has resulted in five condemnatory Security Council resolutions, international isolation, and various sanctions targeting Iran,” Kittrie said.[16]

As the world observed during the summer of 2009, Iranians’ discontent with what appeared to be the fraudulent re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, took to the streets, creating significant pressure on the regime.[17] If hit hard enough by sanctions on refined oil, even greater public unrest could prompt the government to reverse its nuclear policy.

Preventing Iranian gas deals: The U.S. could also target the Islamic Republic’s recent gas deals with South and Central Asian nations. With Iran holding 16 percent of the world’s natural gas reserves, Iran has capitalized on this resource by extending pipelines to neighboring countries and moving away from using gasoline – and towards using natural gas – for Iranian automobiles.[18] Legislation and diplomatic pressure targeting companies that invest in Iran’s natural gas industry, combined with sanctions on refined oil, could deal a fatal blow to Iran’s energy sector.

Financial sanctions: Financial sanctions imposed by the United States in the past have succeeded in creating real pressure on Iran.[19] According to Iran expert Orde Kittrie, “The Iranian people so often blame the results of Treasury’s financial measures on the Iranian regime rather than the U.S. government…”[20] The Central Bank of Iran, the Islamic Republic’s “principal remaining lifeline to the international banking system,” is a prime target because it assists other private-sector banks in evading existing financial sanctions.[21]

Arms embargo: Cutting off Iran from weapons sales is crucial to ensuring it does not acquire nuclear weapons. On Sept. 27 and 28, Iran test-fired its longest-range missiles, which could hit Israel and U.S. military bases in Europe.[22] The United States should continue to use its diplomatic leverage to ensure that countries like Russia do not sell Iran S-300 antiaircraft missiles.[23]

For more information and ideas on sanctions to stop the threat of a nuclear Iran, please click here

Expert Sources on Iran (United States and Israel)

In the United States:

Orde Kittrie, Associate Professor of Law, Arizona State University;
Tel: 480-727-8572 (office); E-mail:

Dr. Gal Luft, Executive Director, Institute for the Analysis of Global Security
Tel.: 202-271-0531
Web site:

David Albright, President, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS)
Tel: 202-547-3633; E-mail:

Ilan Berman, Vice President for Policy, American Foreign Policy Council;
author, "Tehran Rising: Iran's Challenge to the United States" (2005);
Tel: 202-543-1006 (office);

Debra Burlingame, Sister of Charles F. "Chic" Burlingame, III, pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 that crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11; Co-founder, 9/11 Families for a Safe and Strong America; Director, World Trade Center Memorial Foundation; Tel: 914-844-3146; E-mail:

Patrick Clawson, Ph.D., Deputy Director for Research,
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy;
Tel: 202-452-0650 ext. 220 (office), 202-302-1722 (cell);
Web site:

Frank Gaffney, President, The Center for Security Policy and Founder,;
Tel: 202-253-9433 (cell); E-mail:;
Web site:

Andrew Grotto, Senior National Security Analyst, Center for American Progress; Tel: 202-682-1611 (office);

Larry Haas, Visiting Senior Fellow, Georgetown Public Policy Institute;
Tel: 202-257-9592 (cell);

Sam Kermanian, Secretary General, Iranian American Jewish Federation;
Tel: 310-854-1199 (office, direct); E-mail:

Dr. Michael Ledeen, Freedom Scholar, Foundation for Defense of Democracies;
Tel: 202-207-0190, Tel: 301-370-1443 (cell); E-mail:

Valerie Lincy, Editor,;
Tel: 202-223-8299 (office); E-mail:;

Claire Lopez, Consultant and Former Executive Director, Iran Policy Committee;
Tel: 703-583-9573 (office); E-mail:

Cliff May, President and Executive Director, The Foundation for the Defense of Democracies;
Tel: 202-207-0190 (office), 202-207-0184 (direct);

Lily Mazahery, President, Legal Rights Institute
Tel: 202- 834-7150; E-mail:

Gary Milhollin, Executive Director, Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control;
Tel: 202-223-8299 (office); E-mail:

Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi, Founder and President, The Israel Project;
Tel: 202-857-6644 (office);

Michael Rubin, Resident Scholar, American Enterprise Institute;
Tel: 202-862-5851 (office); Fax: 202-862-4877; E-mail:

Gary Samore, Vice President, Director of Studies and Maurice R. Greenberg Chair, Council on Foreign Relations;
Tel: 212-434-9627 (office); Fax: 212-434-9870; E-mail:;

Rick Santorum, Former U.S. Senator (R-Penn.), Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center; Contact Virginia Davis, Cell: 215-528-9368; Home office: 610-658-9658; E-mail:,

U.S. Rep. Brad Sherman, D-Calif., Chairman, International Terrorism, Non-Proliferation & Trade Committee;
Tel: 202-225-5911 (office);

Ken Timmerman, President, Middle East Data Project, Inc.;
Author, “Countdown to Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown with Iran” (2005);
Tel: 301-946-2918 (office); E-mail:;

Peter Zimmerman, Professor Emeritus, King's College, London
Tel: 703-966-6680;

In Israel:

Dr. Ronen Bergman, Senior Security and Intelligence Correspondent, Yedioth Ahronoth;
author, "Point of No Return (2007); Tel: 011-972-2-555-8148 (cell); E-mail:;

Jeremy Issacharoff, Senior Research Fellow, Institute of National Security Studies;
Tel: 011-972-3- 640-0400 ext 463 (work); Tel: 011-972-50-620-3887 (cell); E-mail:

Professor Ze'ev Maghen, Lecturer in the History of the Middle East, The Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University;
Tel: 011-972-3-531-7812 (office); 011-972-52-383-4069 (cell); E-mail:;

David Menashri, Chair of Modern Iranian Studies, Tel Aviv University;
Tel: 011-972-3-640-8911 or 011-972-3-640-6161 (office); 011-972-8-940-1467 (home);


[1] Robinson, Dan, "House Committee Approves Expanded Iran Sanctions," VOA News, Oct. 28, 2009,

[2] Carmichael, Lachlan, “Momentum grows for Iran nuclear sanctions,” AFP, Sept. 23, 2009,

[3] Beehner, Lionel, “U.S. Sanctions Biting Iran,” Council on Foreign Relations, Jan. 23, 2007,

[4] “Background Note: Libya,” U.S. Department of State, March 2009,

[5] Adam, Karla, “Man Convicted In Lockerbie Blast Is Freed,” The Washington Post, Aug. 21, 2009,

[6] U.S. House, 104th Congress, “H.R. 3107, Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996,”

[7] Katzman, Kenneth, “The Iran-Libya Sanctions Act (ILSA),” CRS Report for Congress, April 3, 2006,

[8] “Background Note: Libya,” U.S. Department of State, March 2009,

[9] Katzman, Kenneth, “The Iran Sanctions Act (ISA),” CRS Report for Congress, July 23, 2008,

[10] Flintoff, Corey, “Congress Passes Bill To Lift Libya Sanctions,” NPR, Aug. 1, 2008,

[11] Roberts, Steven V., “Senate, 78 to 21, Overrides Reagan’s Veto and Imposes Sanctions on South Africa,” The New York Times, Oct. 3, 1986,

[12] U.S. House, 99th Congress, "H.R. 4868, Comprehensive Anti-Apartheid Act of 1986,”

[13] “South Africa,” Country Guide, The Washington Post,, accessed Oct. 8, 2009

[14] Kempster, Norman, “Bush Lifts Economic Sanctions on S. Africa - Apartheid: He sees 'irreversible' progress by Pretoria. Opponents in Congress plan no effort to undo the move,” The Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1991,

[15] Hall, Kevin G., “Iran faces sanctions, which could include targeting gasoline imports,” The Miami Herald, Sept. 25, 2009,

[16] Prepared testimony of Orde F. Kittrie before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “Iran: Recent Developments and Implications for U.S. Policy,” House Committee on Foreign Affairs Web site, July 22, 2009,

[17] Fletcher, Martin; Flaye, Ella, “Iranian opposition vows to keep pressure on regime with shows of strength,” The Times (UK), June 18, 2009,

[18] Luft, Gal, “The New Iran Sanctions: Worse Than the Old Ones,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 11, 2009,

[19] Written testimony of Stuart Levey before the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, “Minimizing Potential Threats from Iran: Administration Perspectives on Economic Sanctions and Other United States Policy Options,” U.S. Department of Treasury Press Room, Oct. 6, 2009,

[20] Prepared testimony of Orde F. Kittrie before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, “Iran: Recent Developments and Implications for U.S. Policy,” House Committee on Foreign Affairs Web site, July 22, 2009,

[21] Simpson, Glenn R., “U.S. weighs sanctions on Iran's central bank,” The Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25, 2008.

[22] Raddatz, Martha, “Iran's Missile Tests Create New Standoff,” ABC News, Sept. 28, 2009,

[23] Caryl, Christian, “The Other Ticking Clock in Iran,” Foreign Policy, Oct. 2, 2009,,0

The Israel Project is an international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israel while promoting security, freedom and peace

No comments: