NEAR EAST REPORT AIPAC'S BIWEEKLY ON AMERICAN MIDDLE EAST POLICY

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Lawmakers urged energy companies to end their commercial dealings with Iran.

Heard on the Hill

SEC: Companies Must Disclose Iran Business to Investors

The chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that companies facing the potential of sanctions for conducting prohibited business in Iran must disclose that information to their investors, Dow Jones Newswire reported. Testifying before the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Capital Markets on July 20, Chairman Mary Schapiro said a company's "contacts with Iran that may lead to liability or community sanctions are something that would need to be disclosed." In response to questioning from Reps. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), the SEC chairman also said the SEC would work to educate investors of the risks companies face from working in Iran. "I think we could do something to help educate investors about the potential here for a company to be sanctioned," Schapiro said. The SEC policy comes in the wake of congressional passage of major Iran sanctions legislation that penalizes international firms doing business with Iran.

U.S. Targets Companies Aiding Iran's Nuke Program

The United States on July 14 imposed sanctions on seven foreign companies and one individual for transferring materials from – or sending materials to – Iran, Syria or North Korea for the development of weapons of mass destruction or missile systems. Under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSA), also known as the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000, the companies will be ineligible for U.S. government contracts, assistance or license for the export of sensitive technologies. The list of sanctioned entities includes four from China, two from Iran, and one each from North Korea and Belarus. Two of the companies, BelTechExport of Belarus and Shanghai Technical By-Products International of China, have not previously been targeted by U.S. sanctions.

Lawmakers Urge Companies to Cut Iran Ties

A bipartisan group of 22 House members signed letters to four energy companies encouraging them to follow through on reports that they have begun taking steps toward ending commercial dealings with Iran. The letters, spearheaded by Reps. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Brad Sherman (D-CA) and sent on July 7, express "hope [that] such reports are true, and we encourage you to follow through by completely, expeditiously and verifiably ceasing to do business in and with Iran." Noting that Congress recently passed the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2010, which aims to stem investments in Iran's energy sector, the letters assert, "Congress intends to exercise its oversight responsibilities vigorously regarding the implementation of the sanctions in this Act and other laws."

Lawmakers Thank EU for Iran Sanctions

Thirty-two members of the House signed a letter to the European Union thanking it for passing a new round of tough sanctions against Iran's energy and financial sectors that resemble American's own sanctions efforts. The letter, spearheaded by Rep. Shelley Berkley (D-NV) and sent on July 2, notes that the EU's next Foreign Council meeting will take place on July 26, where the new implementing regulations for the sanctions will be adopted. Sent earlier this month to Baroness Catherine Ashton, the high representative for the European Union for foreign affairs and security policy, the letter expresses "hope [that] these measures will help convince Iran to back down from its nuclear ambitions. We believe they are an important step to avoid armed conflict in the region."

Lawmakers Urge Presbyterian Church to Stand with Israel

House and Senate lawmakers in June sent letters to the Presbyterian Church counseling against the approval of recommendations that its Middle East Study Committee (MESC) has made about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. “The MESC report,” state both letters, “mischaracterizes the state of affairs in the Middle East and its recommendations, which appear to call for the PCUSA to join the boycott and divestment movement against Israel and support the suspension of U.S. military assistance to Israel, could damage U.S. interests and undermine the fragile Middle East peace process.”

The signatories of the two letters are all member of the Presbyterian Church. The Senate letter, spearheaded by Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ), was also signed by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-MO), Michael Enzi (R-WY), James Inhofe (R-OK), and John Barrasso (R-WY). The House letter, spearheaded by Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA), was also signed by John Campbell (R-CA), Mac Thornberry (R-TX), Howard Coble (R-NC), Charles Dent (R-PA), Jerry Lewis (R-CA), Jo Ann Emerson (R-MO), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV). BACK TO TOP