WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and his colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee voted today to ratchet up the sanctions that may be applied to Iran to discourage the Ahmadinejad regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons. The Committee’s bill would also authorize new sanctions on Syria to protest its brutal crackdown on its citizens. Brown applauded the Banking Committee’s passage of Iran and Syria sanctions legislation, along with passage of an amendment that he supported that would provide restitution to the families of 150 service members – including 10 in Ohio – who were victims of a 1983 Iranian terrorist attack on a Marine Corps barracks in Beirut.
“As Iran becomes a greater threat to the U.S. and our allies around the world – including our most important ally in the Middle East, Israel – it’s time to turn up the pressure on this regime,” Brown said. “It’s critical we have a range of options to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon and threatening stability in the region and American interests around the globe.”
The Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Human Rights Act authorizes new tools for the President to employ in an effort to pressure Iran into complying with international obligations.
This legislation would:
- Broaden the list of available sanctions;
- Require intensified targeting of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps;
- Require firms traded on US stock exchanges to disclose Iran-related activity to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC);
- Sanction energy and uranium mining joint ventures with Iran’s government outside of Iran;
- Penalize US parent firms for certain Iran-related activities of their foreign subsidiaries;
- Mandate sanctions for those who supply Iran with weapons and other technologies used to commit human rights abuses; and
- Provide other similar measures designed to increase pressure on Iran’s government.
Following months of violence against opposition protestors in Syria, Brown cosponsored legislation that would impose tougher sanctions on the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Today, we’re one step closer to stemming the tide of weapons and surveillance technology flowing to a ruthless government committed to suppressing its population at all costs," Brown said. “The Syrian people are calling for change through peaceful protest. It’s critical that we step up sanctions to support democracy in the region.”
The Syrian Human Rights Accountability Act would prohibit the sale of technology or weapons to Syria that would be used for censorship or human rights abuses in the country. It would also direct the Obama Administration to identify individuals in the Syrian government who have violated the human rights of pro-democracy demonstrators, members of the opposition, or pro-reform organizations. Identified individuals would be blocked from undertaking any financial and property transactions in the United States. Lastly, the sanctions legislation would prohibit the sale of hardware, software, telecommunications equipment, or any other technology used to restrict the free flow of information to or limit the free speech of the Syrian people.
Victims of Iranian Terrorism
In 2007, a federal judge ruled that Iran was liable for a 1983 terrorist attack on Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that cost 241 servicemembers – including 10 from Ohio – their lives. The families of these Marines were awarded $2.65 billion in damages; however, the money has not been awarded because the U.S. does not have the authority to seize Iranian assets held in U.S. banks.
“The United States must not stop until we hold accountable those responsible for terrorism,” Brown said.
Brown helped pass an amendment that delivers on the promise made to these families by allowing plaintiffs who have received judgments against Iran for terrorist acts to collect restitution by accessing funds that were transferred into the country.