Putting Iran Under the Congressional Spotlight

March 12, 2009 – Washington – The American Jewish Committee (AJC) urged Congress today to adopt the Iran Sanctions Enabling Act (HR 1327) as an effective tool to press Tehran to desist from its quest to achieve nuclear capability.

Testifying before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on International Policy and Trade, Jason Isaacson, AJC’s director of government and international affairs, called for divestment from companies operating in Iran’s critical energy sector.

“Foreign energy companies essentially sustain Iran’s economy and its regime,” said Isaacson. Oil and gas exports account for some 80 percent of Iran’s export revenue and about half the government’s budget. Iran relies on foreign companies to develop its energy industry, and even to provide it with gasoline for domestic use.

“Billions of dollars of U.S. public employee pension funds and other public funds are invested in the foreign corporations that most heavily engage in Iran’s oil sector,” said Isaacson. “A movement of concerned citizens is sweeping America to curb investment of public funds in these companies. Ten states have enacted laws, and others have instituted policies divesting from Iran.

Isaacson pointed out that “members of the armed forces and first responders – who know first-hand the damage that Iran’s activity inflicts – are among those who have advocated for divestment most strongly.”

Divestment would help bring economic pressure because “Iran’s strained economy is the regime’s Achilles’ heel,” said Isaacson.

While much attention has focused on Iran’s threatening posture towards Israel, Isaacson stressed that the dangers are much broader.

“It isn’t only Israel that perceives the perils of a nuclear Iran,” said Isaacson. “A nuclear Iran would pose an even broader threat – throughout the Arab Gulf, to the entire region and, indeed, to global peace and security.”

Isaacson said AJC groups that have visited the Gulf over the past 15 years have regularly heard the concerns of Gulf leaders about Iran’s assertion of regional power. “Unless the United States and other powers act boldly and promptly, these governments may feel compelled to accomodate Iran, procure their own nuclear weapons, or both,” Isaacson said.

The full text of Mr. Isaacson’s testimony is available at www.ajc.org.
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