AJC Urges U.S. Treasury to Close Loopholes in Iran Sanctions

Dec 24, 2010, 09:42 ET from American Jewish Committee

NEW YORK, Dec. 24, 2010 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- AJC is urging the U.S. government to move expeditiously to close any gaps in the otherwise stringent economic sanctions imposed on nuclear-aspiring Iran. A New York Times investigation, published today, revealed that sanctions enforcement is not uniform.

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"Loopholes in our own country's sanctions regime, now exposed, require immediate remedy," said AJC Executive Director David Harris. "Tough, coordinated, airtight international action is an essential factor in the strategy to stop Iran, by persuading Tehran's decision-makers that the cost of continued defiance of the international community will become unacceptably high."

AJC has long advocated globally for stringent sanctions to press Tehran to abandon its quest for nuclear-weapons capability, and has applauded the four UN Security Council resolutions, as well as the additional sanctions measures adopted by the U.S., European Union, Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada and other like-minded nations.

"We have the highest admiration for Stuart Levey, U.S. Under Secretary of Treasury, who has admirably steered, both in the Obama and Bush administrations, U.S. efforts to cut-off Iran's access to financial institutions and eliminate most U.S. trade with Iran," said Harris. "Indeed, AJC honored him with our Distinguished Public Service Award in 2009. With U.S. leadership, a great deal has been accomplished. The Times' report suggests, however, that still more work needs to be done not only abroad, but here at home."

In the U.S., according to the Times, enforcement of sanctions rests with the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control, which can make exceptions with guidance from the State Department.

However, the Times noted that "the exceptions represent only a small counterweight to the overall force of America's trade sanctions, which are among the toughest in the world." While Europe and China continue to trade heavily with Iran, in the first quarter of 2010, trade with Iran accounted for 0.02 percent of U.S. exports.

The Times' examination of documents, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, concerned a number of countries, including Iran, blacklisted as state sponsors of terrorism.


SOURCE American Jewish Committee