Kirk, Menendez Introduce Bill to Renew Key Iran Sanctions Law Targeting Terrorism and Nuclear Proliferation

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)  introduced the Iran Sanctions Relief Oversight Act of 2015 (S. 1682), a bipartisan bill to extend the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-172) for ten more years.

With the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 set to expire next year, the Kirk-Menendez legislation would renew the Act’s critical sanctions measures designed to defund the Iranian regime’s nuclear program and support for terrorism, thereby ensuring that Congress retains leverage to snap back sanctions if Iran cheats on any nuclear agreement.  The legislation would also require the Administration to report to Congress whether any Iran sanctions relief has supported terrorism, nuclear or missile proliferation, or human rights violations, or has enriched any senior Iranian official’s personal finances.

“Congress passed the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 to drain Iran’s financial support for Hezbollah, Hamas, and terrorist  threats to the United States and Israel, and block funds for building nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles,” Senator Kirk said.  “Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper recently told Senators that ‘Iran remains the foremost state sponsor of terrorism,’ so if the White House is serious about maintaining terrorism sanctions against Iran no matter what, it must support our bipartisan effort to renew this expiring law.”

“If a deal is reached with Iran, it is critical that should Iran violate the terms of an agreement, severe penalties will follow and a forceful snapback of sanctions will occur,” Senator Menendez said.  “For me, the trend lines of the Iran talks are deeply worrying, our red lines have turned into green lights, leaving snapback as one of the few tools available to demand Iranian compliance with an agreement.  The Iran Sanctions Act, which authorizes a majority of the sanctions in place on Iran, expires next year.  Absent renewal we would be unilaterally lifting sanctions on Iran and hence unilaterally disarming.  It stands to reason that if negotiators are serious about snapback, then they should support the immediate extension of the Iran Sanctions Act to ensure there is no question for Iran about the consequences of non-compliance.   Furthermore, because Iran is the foremost sponsor of regional terrorism, any sanctions relief must be monitored closely, and this legislation ensures that regular reports will be provided to Congress to confirm that Iranian-backed terrorist organizations like Hamas, Hezbollah or the murderous Assad regime in Syria aren’t the beneficiaries of newly accessed Iranian funds. This bill is a clarifying action for all parties and this legislation should move forward now.”

Congress unanimously passed the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 (originally named the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act of 1996) to stop major foreign investment in Iran’s energy sector, with the goal of denying the Iranian regime the ability to financially support international terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and missile proliferation.  Although the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 was set to expire five years after enactment, Congress passed new laws to extend the Act for five-year periods in 2001, 2006, and 2010.