January 2, 2013 | Press Release

FDD Praises New Iran Sanctions in Defense Authorization Act


Washington, DC – With the United States and its key European allies preparing to enter negotiations over Iran’s unlawful nuclear activities, President Obama has enacted new sanctions that will strengthen Washington’s hand considerably.

FDD commends President Obama and Congress for new sanctions co-authored by Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Mark Kirk (R-IL), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT), in an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, toughening sanctions on Iran in several key areas. Senators Carl Levin (D-MI) and John McCain (R-AZ), and Reps. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) and Adam Smith (D-WA), led the overall NDAA from their leadership positions at the Senate and House Armed Services Committees.

Senators Tim Johnson (D-SD) and Richard Shelby (R-AL), and Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Ted Deutch (D-FL), Ed Royce (R-CA), Robert Dold (R-IL), Howard Berman (D-CA), and Eliot Engel (D-NY), also led the charge for the new legislation.

The amendment, the Iran Freedom and Counter-Proliferation Act of 2012, was included in the FY2013 NDAA, which passed the House on December 20 by a vote of 315 to 107, and the Senate on December 21 by a vote of 81 to 14.

With even the Iranian government conceding that U.S.-led sanctions have contributed to a 50 percent drop in the country’s oil exports, the Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman amendment will broaden those measures still further. With limited exceptions, it will blacklist Iran’s entire energy, port, shipping and ship-building sectors, denying Iran’s government funding for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and international terrorist activities.

“Iranian nuclear physics is still beating western economic pressure, and the U.S. and its allies need to bring massive new pressure on the Iranian regime,” said Mark Dubowitz, Executive Director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and head of its projects on Iran sanctions and human rights.

“The new legislation is a forceful assault on the Iranian regime’s human rights abuses, humanitarian corruption, and on the economic sectors that feed Iran’s nuclear weapons program and its Revolutionary Guards,” Dubowitz continued. “It puts the spotlight where it belongs: On the IRGC officials and other regime insiders who are abusing their citizens, and running corruption rackets to enrich themselves while preventing otherwise easily accessible medicine, food and humanitarian goods from reaching the Iranian people.”

“For the first time, it also puts the U.S. government on offense against Iranian sanctions busters by blacklisting whole sectors of Iran’s economy, and targeting officials and entities linked to the government of Iran with whom no responsible company should do business. These measures should have a chilling effect on non-humanitarian trade with Iran and set the framework for the even more extensive measures that Congress and the Obama administration must begin to consider in January.”

In addition to comprehensive sector-based sanctions on energy, shipping, building and ports management, the Menendez-Kirk-Lieberman Amendment includes a declaration of policy of the United States on protecting the human rights of the people of Iran. The amendment also imposes sanctions on the sale, supply, or transfer of precious and semi-precious metals to Iran, on insurance or reinsurance companies underwriting activities or entities sanctionable under U.S. law, on Iran’s government broadcasting entity and its president for human rights abuses, and on Iranian officials for human rights abuses if they are involved in humanitarian corruption or diversion. Of real consequence for Iran’s business partners, the amendment imposes sanctions on any foreign person doing business with an entity or person on the Treasury Department’s Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) list (except non-designated Iranian financial institutions), including those connected to the government of Iran.

To discuss U.S. policy toward Iran, or arrange interviews with any of FDD’s scholars, please contact David Donadio at [email protected]. Experts include Mark Dubowitz, FDD’s Executive Director, an Iran sanctions specialist; Reuel Marc Gerecht, FDD senior fellow, Farsi-speaking Iran specialist, and former CIA Iran targeting officer; John Hannah, an FDD senior fellow and former national security advisor to Vice President Richard B. Cheney and advisor to Secretaries of State Warren Christopher and James Baker; Emanuele Ottolenghi, an Iran expert who specializes in IRGC global corporate networks, sanctions busting, and EU-Iran relations; Jonathan Schanzer, FDD’s Vice President of Research and former U.S. Treasury counterterrorism intelligence analyst; Michael Ledeen, an expert on Iran’s democratic opposition and former special advisor to Secretary of State Alexander Haig; and Claudia Rosett, FDD’s journalist-in-residence, a former Wall Street Journal reporter, closely tracks Iranian shipping.


The Foundation for Defense of Democracies is a Washington-based non-profit, non-partisan policy institute dedicated to promoting pluralism, defending democratic values, and fighting the ideologies that drive terrorism.


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