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On House Floor, Waters Warns that Iran Reporting Bill Could Destabilize Nuclear Deal

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Washington, DC, September 21, 2016 | comments

Delivering remarks on the House floor in opposition to H.R. 5461 today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), Ranking Member of the Committee on Financial Services, denounced the “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act” as an attempt to threaten the viability of the Iran nuclear deal.

In her remarks, Waters noted that this bill is the “latest in a series of Republican efforts aimed at undermining the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year by Iran and the world’s six major powers.” For example, the report required by the bill “would be seized upon by Iran as an intentional effort to discourage international investment, which Iran would view as a violation of the expressed U.S. commitment under the nuclear deal not to interfere with the full realization of the relief provided under the accord.”

According to the Statement of Administration Policy (SAP,) the White House views H.R. 5461 as “counterproductive,” and if this bill were to reach the President’s desk, his senior advisors would recommend he veto it.

Full text of the remarks, as prepared for delivery, is below.

Mr. Chairman, I rise today in opposition to H.R. 5461, the so-called “Iranian Leadership Asset Transparency Act.” The Administration has stated that this bill would “endanger our ability to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program is and remains exclusively peaceful.”

Indeed, this harmful bill is the latest in a series of Republican efforts aimed at undermining the landmark nuclear agreement reached last year by Iran and the world’s six major powers.

The comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran was intended to address one specific problem, and it has so far been a success. And this success should not be underestimated, given how much a nuclear-armed Iran would magnify risks in a turbulent region in a terrible way.

Despite the fact that the nuclear deal, so far, has delivered on its principal goal of blocking Iran’s path to nuclear weapons for an extended period of time, opponents remain committed to undermining the ongoing viability of the deal, chipping away at it piece by piece. Whether by passing legislation to block the sale of aircraft to Iran that were a central component of the agreement; or accusing the Administration of making extreme concessions to Iran, by insisting, for example, that a legitimate legal settlement was an illegal “ransom” payment; or by spreading rumors of suspected cheating by Iran – Republicans are intent spreading their false narrative and dismantling the agreement.

So here we are again considering this bill, which requires the Secretary of the Treasury to report on the total estimated funds or assets under the direct or indirect control of as many as 80 senior Iranian leaders, along with a description of how the funds were acquired and employed. The report would not be tied to any specific prohibition or legal action against Iran and clearly plays into the hands of critics who are seeking to gin up prospects of reputational risks for companies that might seek to do business with Iran. Moreover, the lack of a tie to any specific prohibition or legal action against the listed individuals, will likely increase confusion regarding compliance obligations rather than make remaining sanctions more easily understood.

Undoubtedly, the report would be seized upon by Iran as an intentional effort to discourage international investment, which Iran would view as a violation of the expressed U.S. commitment under the nuclear deal not to interfere with the full realization of the relief provided under the accord.

The major world powers who joined us in this agreement would also likely view the legislation as a “bad faith” measure.

By denying Iran the economic benefits it was promised in exchange for dismantling critical elements of its nuclear program, this bill would remove the critical incentive for Iran to hold up its end of the bargain.

As the Administration’s statement of policy notes, if the JCPOA were to fail for these reasons, it would “remove the unprecedented constraints on and monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program, lead to the unraveling of the international sanctions regime against Iran, and deal a devastating blow to the credibility of America’s leadership and our commitments to our closest allies.”

In addition to my central concern that this bill destabilizes the Iran nuclear deal, I also share the Administration’s concerns that producing the report required under this bill would divert massive resources away from investigations and the targeting of sanctions on Iran related to terrorism, human rights violations, and ballistic missiles.

Meeting the requirements of this bill would place a very real strain on the Treasury Department and the Intelligence community, and we need to think carefully about the national security implications of diverting resources away from the Treasury investigators who are tasked with implementing current sanctions on Iran and uncovering illicit conduct across the globe.

Proponents of this legislation have underscored the importance of the need to show the people of Iran the corrupt practices in which their leaders are engaged. However this bill would not accomplish this goal. There is a profound trust gap between the United States and Iran, and any findings in this report would be met with a high degree of skepticism among the Iranian people and their leaders.

Therefore, to the extent any portion of this report could actually be made public—since much of the most important parts of the report would likely be classified—it would do little to “enlighten” the people of Iran about their leaders.

In fact, it would inevitably be rejected as U.S. propaganda by both the regime and by its people as a predictable attack on the country’s government by the United States.

In light of the bill’s limited practical utility, its failure to meet its own stated objectives, its diversion of talent and resources away from investigations related to sanctions, and the destabilizing effect it would have on the Iran nuclear deal, I urge its opposition. Moreover, the President has announced that he would veto this bill if it came across his desk and I would like to enter the Statement of Administration Policy on this bill into the record.

I reserve the balance of my time.


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