Obama administration looking to crack down on Iranian-sanction evaders while still lobbying lawmakers

posted at 1:51 pm on December 12, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

It’s looking less and less certain by the day that the bipartisan group of senators pushing for a fresh round of Iranian sanctions will be able to do so before the legislative year is up; the Obama administration’s foreign-policy team has once again spent their week aggressively lobbying lawmakers to cool it, arguing that even the threat of new sanctions six months down the road could upset the oh-so-delicate balance they believe they have achieved in negotiations with the Iranian regime. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid was mum on what he plans to do about the issue after emerging from a closed briefing with Secretary of State John Kerry and other lawmakers on Wednesday afternoon. Via Politico:

“I and many of my other colleagues on both sides of the aisle are still committed to passing legislation that would call for — at the expiration of six months if there’s no final agreement — increased sanctions on Iran,” McCain told reporters after the briefing. “We think that that’s appropriate.”

But other influential Republicans, including Bob Corker, the top GOP member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, appeared skeptical of the effort. …

Two Democratic senators who had previously pledged for a sanctions bill to pass Congress expeditiously were more cautious after listening to Kerry. Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said senators “have a lot to consider” and said “after a briefing, I don’t want to just react. I want to consider what I’ve heard.” …

Other key Democrats such as Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada declined to comment after the briefing.

Today’s Banking Committee hearing on Iran was also inconclusive about what an immediate course of action might look like; and if the pro-sanctions group of senators do end up getting their planned legislation out this week, it looks like Reid will abide by the White House’s requests and fall back on Congress’s already crowded end-of-year agenda to slow-walk it until at least January.

In the meantime, in an apparent effort to placate those senators and convince them that they have no intention of rushing through any undue or premature sanctions relief, the Treasury Department announced on Thursday that it plans to tighten the screws on a list of companies and individuals for trying to pull a run-around on Iran’s economic restrictions, via the AP:

The United States targeted more than two dozen companies and people on Thursday for evading sanctions against Iran, an effort by the Obama administration to show it will enforce existing law even as it presses Congress to hold off on additional measures while world powers pursue a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran.

The action freezes the U.S. assets of firms in Panama, Singapore, Ukraine and elsewhere for maintaining covert business with Iran’s national tanker company. Other companies involved directly in the proliferation of material useful for weapons of mass destruction also were blacklisted from the U.S. market. …

U.S. officials have stressed that most U.S. oil, banking and commercial restrictions remain in place despite the deal last month, which eased $7 billion in sanctions on Iran for a series of nuclear concessions.

As I mentioned the other day, foreign oil companies are already circling Iran like sharks, waiting to attack lest any business opportunities become available, and no doubt the White House wants to assure the pro-sanctions crowd that they won’t be letting anything slip through the cracks. Precisely what miraculous measures they have in place to make sure that no perfidy on the part of the Iranians’s nuclear program slips through the diplomatic cracks… remains unclear.


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“No Comments” About says it all for our douchebags in dc.

VegasRick on December 12, 2013 at 1:59 PM

Welcome to United Against Nuclear Iran’s (UANI) Iran Business Registry

(IBR), a running database of reputable media and academic reports of international business in or with Iran. The effective implementation of UANI’s strategy of increasing the economic isolation of the Iranian regime by pressuring corporations to end their Iran business is largely dependent on the acquisition of transparent and reliable information regarding corporate activity with the Iranian regime. This is the purpose of the IBR, which has grown to include over 500 corporations.

The IBR was initially intended to serve as a resource for individuals to make informed purchasing, investment and divestment decisions. The IBR has subsequently grown to become a resource used widely by the media, professional researchers and academics, elected officials and policy makers. The IBR also serves as the platform for UANI’s programs and projects targeting specific corporations and industrial sectors in Iran.

The IBR can be used for a number of ways for peaceful activism including:

http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/ibr

http://www.unitedagainstnucleariran.com/

canopfor on December 12, 2013 at 2:15 PM

the Obama administration’s foreign-policy team has once again spent their week aggressively lobbying lawmakers to cool it, arguing that even the threat of new sanctions six months down the road could upset the oh-so-delicate balance they believe they have achieved in negotiations with the Iranian regime
===============

Against Nuclear Iran ‏@UANI 1m

Undeniable & core facts related to improving Iranian economy & #sanctions relief contradict @USTreasury assertions http://t.uani.com/1h3Hqib
===================================================================

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 12, 2013
Contact: Nathan Carleton, press@uani.com
Phone: (212) 554-3296

UANI Issues Statement Regarding Treasury’s Iran Actions this Week

Ambassador Wallace: “Overall Economic Pressure on Iran has Eased Since Rouhani’s Election, and will Continue to Ease”

New York, NY – United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) CEO, Ambassador Mark D. Wallace, issued the following statement today regarding the actions of the U.S. Treasury Department this week, which include new designations and enforcement against Iran sanctions violators, an Op-Ed in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal by Treasury Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence David Cohen, “We’re Not Easing Sanctions on Iran,” and a speech by Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee last night:

We respect and admire our friends and former colleagues in government that serve in the Treasury Department, including Secretary Lew and Undersecretary Cohen, and we applaud today’s designations, which we hope are a first step towards more. Secretary Lew, Undersecretary Cohen, and their colleagues are great public servants, deserving of our bipartisan respect. We especially welcome Secretary Lew’s comments that the Geneva agreement “does nothing to undo or weaken the core architecture of our sanctions regime.”

We respectfully and fundamentally disagree, however, with the premise being put forward this week, that “Iran will be even deeper in the hole six months from now, when the deal expires, than it is today.” The reality is that overall economic pressure on Iran has eased since Rouhani’s election, and will continue to ease as the interim deal–which specifically includes sanctions relief–goes into effect.

With the election of President Rouhani, Iran has pursued one objective: sanctions relief. The Obama administration fully understands this, and–in Geneva–promised Iran sanctions relief. As The New York Times reported: “the Obama administration is gambling that the gradual relaxation of punishing sanctions will whet Tehran’s appetite for greater economic relief, inducing the country’s leaders to negotiate a further deal to roll back its nuclear progress.”

This week, Treasury is asserting the contrary: that economic pressure will actually increase during the next six months and deepen Iran’s sanctions-induced economic crisis. We are incredulous, especially since economic enforcement has been so scant during the period between Rouhani’s election and today.

Our experiences dealing with countless businesses and dozens of countries contradict Undersecretary Cohen’s descriptions of the economic climate in Iran since Rouhani’s election. Key indicators show that Iran’s economy has greatly improved, as evidenced by at least the following:

The rial has increased in value more than 25%.
The Tehran Stock Exchange index has increased by nearly 100%, from about 45,000 points to 86,500 points today.
By the end of November, inflation had decreased from 43% to 36% and continues to fall.
There have been numerous reports and firsthand accounts of Iran’s automotive and energy sectors anticipating the return of major multinational corporations. Reputational risk for companies has clearly declined.
Overall, the psychological impact of international sanctions on the Iranian economy has been reversed, as Iranian confidence in the rial, its stock exchange, and local commerce has soared.

The foregoing has occurred before implementation of the Geneva interim agreement, which actually promises real sanctions relief such as “paus[ing] efforts to further reduce Iran’s crude oil sales,” “suspend[ing] U.S. and EU sanctions on Iran’s petrochemical exports … gold and precious metals … [and] auto industry,” and “refrain[ing] from imposing new nuclear-related sanctions.”

These undeniable and core facts related to the improving Iranian economy and the sanctions relief agreed to in Geneva clearly contradict Undersecretary Cohen. Moreover, the Undersecretary’s assurances that sanctions and pressure are about to increase directly conflict with the commitment and statements Secretary Kerry, the State Department, and President Obama have made to our P5+1 partners and Iran. We call on President Obama to clarify whether sanctions and pressure on Iran will increase or decrease over the next six months.

To be clear, we fully support ever-increasing pressure on Iran’s economy unless and until Iran ceases its pursuit of the capacity to build a nuclear bomb. We prefer Treasury’s view and hope Secretaries Lew and Cohen prove our skepticism wrong. At this point, however, their words simply do not comport with the facts on the ground in Iran, or the statements of policy made by Secretary Kerry and President Obama. Most fundamentally, we believe the administration’s statements to Iran, the international community, and the American people should all convey the same policy.

###

http://unitedagainstnucleariran.com/press-releases/uani-issues-statement-regarding-treasurys-iran-actions-week

canopfor on December 12, 2013 at 2:20 PM

“Mmmmyou rang…?”

Akzed on December 12, 2013 at 2:29 PM

Iran “We won, shut up”

The UAE, Bahrain, SA, and neighboring lands forming their own joint forces…Armageddon sped up…

Israel left alone…

What cool ‘leadership’ the USA has these days, domestic and foreign. Cool!

Schadenfreude on December 12, 2013 at 2:38 PM

The United States targeted more than two dozen companies and people on Thursday for evading sanctions against Iran, an effort by the Obama administration to show it will enforce existing law even as it presses Congress to hold off on additional measures while world powers pursue a comprehensive nuclear deal with Tehran.

Anybody want to bet that the targets were Romney donors?

Steve Eggleston on December 12, 2013 at 2:39 PM

“Willlbbuuuurrrrr…open the doooorrrrr.”

Bishop on December 12, 2013 at 2:40 PM

Obama secretly talking with Iran and Cuba says it all about them..they hate our allies and love our enemies..but to them, it’s the opposite..Iran and Cuba isn’t enemies to them..I’m freaking shocked they stopped supplying arms to the saints that are the rebels in Syria..I despise everything they stand for..EVERYTHING..

Israel…Just attack Iran ASAP

sadsushi on December 12, 2013 at 3:18 PM