On Wednesday, August 1, 2012, the House is scheduled to consider H.R. 1905, the House Amendment to Senate Amendment to Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act of 2012, under a suspension of the rules, requiring a two-thirds majority vote for passage. The bill was introduced by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) on May 13, 2011, and was approved by the House on December 14, 2011, under a suspension of the rules, with a recorded vote of 410-11. The bill was passed in the Senate, with amendment, by voice vote on May 21, 2012.
H.R. 1905 would strengthen the Iran Sanctions Act to include:
- an increase in the number of mandatory sanctions and the types of sanctions;
- the expansion of prohibited activities to cover the new issuance or purchase of Iranian sovereign debt;
- a prohibition on joint ventures and development of petroleum resources and petrochemical products;
- expanding the prohibition on refined petroleum products to infrastructure that could support the industry;
- adding “transshipment” as a sanctionable activity under the WMD sanctions;
- including a prohibition on joint ventures with Iran for the mining, production, or transportation of uranium to Iran under the WMD sanctions;
- expansion of the definition of “services” to include a wider range of activities in the energy sector, and language declaring the Iranian energy sector a “zone of proliferation concern”;
- strengthening the prohibition on procurement;
- tightening and limiting waivers; and
- requiring the Energy Information Administration to immediately analyze Iran’s natural gas sector and submit its findings to the President who, in turn, must then report to Congress on whether a sanctions regime similar to that imposed for purchases of Iranian petroleum or an alternative regime could be effectively applied to the natural gas sector.
The bill would also include financial sanctions aimed at further restricting Iran’s access to the international financial system, to include:
- mandatory disclosures to the Securities and Exchange Commission relating to sanctionable activities:
- codifying executive orders to require sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran to include enablers and facilitators, and strengthening existing sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran;
- expansion of Comprehensive Iran Sanctions Accountability and Divestment Act (CISADA) sanctions with respect to transactions with persons sanctioned for terrorism or proliferation-related activities;
- strengthening sanctions currently in place against the Central Bank of Iran to sharply limit the repatriation of currency to the regime in Tehran for countries that currently have exemptions from sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran for the purposes of crude oil purchases, and eliminate pass-through trade via third countries; and
- strengthening and expanding the definition of “financial transaction” to include trade in gold and precious metals, via money changers, and other activities; and expanding the applicability of CISADA sanctions to other Iranian financial institutions;
- significantly expanding the definition of credible evidence which might trigger sanctions investigations.
Additionally, the bill would include prohibitions on insurance and shipping that include:
- providing insurance or reinsurance to National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC), National Iranian Oil Company (NIOC), or their successors;
- sanctions with respect to vessels that transport goods related to proliferation or support terrorism;
- sanctioning persons that transport crude oil from Iran, concealing the origin of Iranian crude; or transport refined petroleum products to Iran; sanctioned vessels could be prevented from landing at a port in the U.S. for up to two years.
The bill would also include specified sanctions targeting the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to include the following:
- identification of IRGC officials, agents and affiliates;
- the identification of persons that are supporting, assisting or facilitating the IRGC;
- sanctioning of foreign government agencies carrying out activities or transactions with IRGC officials, agents, or affiliates or with other designated Iranian persons or entities;
- strengthening all waivers to “vital” or “essential to the national security interest”; and
- requiring the determination within 45 days of enactment as to whether NITC and NIOC are agents or affiliates of the IRGC with language stating that it is the sense of the Congress that they be so designated.
Lastly, the bill would include sanctions targeting human rights violators in Iran, Syria, and their enablers to include:
- the codification of certain executive orders with respect to human rights violators in Iran and Syria;
- a provision underscoring the sense of the Congress that the Iranian leadership should be sanctioned for human rights violations and, if such officials are not designated, requiring the Secretary of State to report on the reasons why senior members of the Iranian government do not meet the standards for designation as human rights violators;
- expanded sanctions on Syria human rights violators.
According to the Committee on Foreign Affairs, this legislation, representing negotiated agreement between the House and Senate, strengthens the existing sanctions on Iran.
Specifically, the legislation “aims to prevent Iran from repatriating revenue it receives from the sale of its crude oil, depriving Iran of hard currency earnings and funds to run its state budget.
“It also prevents the purchasing of Iranian sovereign debt after the date of enactment, thereby further limiting the regime’s ability to finance its illicit activities.
“It also expands sanctions against Iranian and Syrian officials for human rights abuses facilitated by computer and network disruption, monitoring, and tracking by those governments.
“The sale of Iranian crude oil will be sharply limited to only countries that have agreed to significantly reduce their purchases of Iranian crude, toward a complete cessation of these activities.”
The committee also notes that tightened sanctions targeting Iran’s energy sector “combine to effectively declare the Iranian energy sector off-limits and blacklist any related unauthorized dealings.”
The bill’s sponsor released the following statement:
“This bipartisan, bicameral Iran sanctions legislation strengthens current U.S. law by leaps and bounds. It updates and expands U.S. sanctions, and counters Iran’s efforts to evade them. The bill sends a clear message to the Iranian regime that the U.S. is committed, through the use of sanctions, to preventing Iran from crossing the nuclear threshold.
“The expanded energy sanctions contained in this critical legislation effectively blacklist the Iranian energy sector and anyone doing business with it. Further, new and expanded sanctions targeting financial institutions, shipping companies, and insurers doing business with Iran will close major loopholes that the regime was taking advantage of to avoid the sting of sanctions. The bill also blocks Iran’s ability to insulate itself from sanctions through oil-for-gold swaps, other trading and bartering schemes, and selling energy bonds and issuing government debt.
“This legislation incorporates great ideas and specific provisions from bills proposed by Members of the House and Senate on both sides of the aisle. If properly implemented, this bill will impose crippling economic pressure on the Iranian regime in order to force Tehran to abandon its nuclear program and other dangerous policies. The House and Senate will be taking up the bill this week, and I urge President Obama to quickly sign it and vigorously enforce its provisions.”
There was no Congressional Budget Office (CBO) cost estimate available for this bill as of press time.