• 30 September 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Diplomacy, House 2008 Elections, Legislative Agenda, Sanctions

Last-Minute Iran Sanctions Pass House

In a last-minute legislative maneuver, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Howard Berman (D-CA) introduced HR7112, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2008 on Thursday and ushered its passage through the House late Friday evening.

The bill was modeled off of a previously-introduced piece of legislation put forward in the Senate by Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL).  That legislation, S. 3445, failed to pass in the Senate this week as part of a package of amendments to the Defense Authorization Act, though could be brought up again for consideration in the Senate some time next week.

The sanctions package passed by the House would expand the scope of current sanctions to include financial institutions, insurers, export credit agencies and others.  Additionally, it codifies existing US export bans on goods destined for Iran, though it does provide exceptions for food, medicine, humanitarian assistance, and civilian aircraft parts.  It also seeks to punish American parent companies with foreign subsidiaries that maintain business dealings with Iran and encourages divestment from them.

Under the new bill, Congress would strengthen export controls on states designated trans-shipment points for illicit trade to Iran–for example Dubai.   The text does, however, provide the President with the authority to waive all applicable sanctions if he determines that it would be in the national interest of the United States.

The House passed the new sanctions merely hours before the scheduled adjournment time on Saturday, after which Congress will not be in session until the new Congress is installed next January.  It is unclear at this point whether the Senate will consider the Iran sanctions before it adjourns, possibly next week.

Following the Senate’s passage of its version of the Defense Authorization Act last week–one of the few pieces appropriations legislation to pass either house of Congress this year–members of the informal House and Senate conference committee put the finishing touches on a compromise version of the bill Tuesday evening.  The final language, which was approved by the House Wednesday and the Senate Thursday, did not include any new provisions for unilateral sanctions against Iran.

For two weeks, the Senate wrestled with the question of whether to include a package of proposed amendments, including the Iran sanctions, but was ultimately unable to approve any of them due to objections over earmarks spending.  Congress is set to adjourn some time this weekend, and it appears increasingly unlikely that a lame duck session will be necessary.

Lawmakers have pressed hard to finish all mandatory business this week in order to avoid the need for a lame duck session in either November or December.  On Wednesday, the House approved a stopgap spending measure known as a “continuing resolution” that will fund the federal government through March of next year without requiring the usual appropriations process be completed.  The CR, as it is known, was passed along with the Defense, Homeland Security, and Military Construction-VA appropriations bills to continue funding the government at last year’s levels through March 6.  If the Senate approves of a similar resolution, there will likely be no need for Congress to return for a lame duck session before next January.

The prospects for another round of UN Security Council sanctions also appear grim, as Russia withdrew from a meeting scheduled for Thursday to discuss the Iranian nuclear program.  Russia is still reeling from the West’s response to its recent invasion of Georgia, for which it was strongly criticized as belligerent and overly-aggressive by much of the international community.

Russia, a permanent member of the UN Security Council, holds a veto power over all proposed resolutions, and is unwilling to cooperate with the West on further Iran sanctions.  As a substitute, the UN Security Council on Friday passed a resolution reaffirming the previous three resolutions and called on Iran “to fully comply, without delay, with its obligations” under international nuclear regulations.

Posted By Patrick Disney

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Sign the Petition


7,350 signatures

Tell Google: Stop playing Persian Gulf name games!

May 14, 2012
Larry Page
Chief Executive Officer
Google Inc.
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, California 94043

Dear Mr. Page:

It has come to our attention that Google has begun omitting the title of the Persian Gulf from its Google Maps application. This is a disconcerting development given the undisputed historic and geographic precedent of the name Persian Gulf, and the more recent history of opening up the name to political, ethnic, and territorial disputes. However unintentionally, in adopting this practice, Google is participating in a dangerous effort to foment tensions and ethnic divisions in the Middle East by politicizing the region’s geographic nomenclature. Members of the Iranian-American community are overwhelmingly opposed to such efforts, particularly at a time when regional tensions already have been pushed to the brink and threaten to spill over into conflict. As the largest grassroots organization in the Iranian-American community, the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) calls on Google to not allow its products to become propaganda tools and to immediately reinstate the historically accurate, apolitical title of “Persian Gulf” in all of its informational products, including Google Maps.

Historically, the name “Persian Gulf” is undisputed. The Greek geographer and astronomer Ptolemy referencing in his writings the “Aquarius Persico.” The Romans referred to the "Mare Persicum." The Arabs historically call the body of water, "Bahr al-Farsia." The legal precedent of this nomenclature is also indisputable, with both the United Nations and the United States Board of Geographic Names confirming the sole legitimacy of the term “Persian Gulf.” Agreement on this matter has also been codified by the signatures of all six bordering Arab countries on United Nations directives declaring this body of water to be the Persian Gulf.

But in the past century, and particularly at times of escalating tensions, there have been efforts to exploit the name of the Persian Gulf as a political tool to foment ethnic division. From colonial interests to Arab interests to Iranian interests, the opening of debate regarding the name of the Persian Gulf has been a recent phenomenon that has been exploited for political gain by all sides. Google should not enable these politicized efforts.

In the 1930s, British adviser to Bahrain Sir Charles Belgrave proposed to rename the Persian Gulf, “Arabian Gulf,” a proposal that was rejected by the British Colonial and Foreign offices. Two decades later, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company resurrected the term during its dispute with Mohammad Mossadegh, the Iranian Prime Minister whose battle with British oil interests would end in a U.S.-sponsored coup d'état that continues to haunt U.S.-Iran relations. In the 1960s, the title “Arabian Gulf” became central to propaganda efforts during the Pan-Arabism era aimed at exploiting ethnic divisions in the region to unite Arabs against non-Arabs, namely Iranians and Israelis. The term was later employed by Saddam Hussein to justify his aims at territorial expansion. Osama Bin Laden even adopted the phrase in an attempt to rally Arab populations by emphasizing ethnic rivalries in the Middle East.

We have serious concerns that Google is now playing into these efforts of geographic politicization. Unfortunately, this is not the first time Google has stirred controversy on this topic. In 2008, Google Earth began including the term “Arabian Gulf” in addition to Persian Gulf as the name for the body of water. NIAC and others called on you then to stop using this ethnically divisive propaganda term, but to no avail. Instead of following the example of organizations like the National Geographic Society, which in 2004 used term “Arabian Gulf” in its maps but recognized the error and corrected it, Google has apparently decided to allow its informational products to become politicized.

Google should rectify this situation and immediately include the proper name for the Persian Gulf in Google Maps and all of its informational products. The exclusion of the title of the Persian Gulf diminishes your applications as informational tools, and raises questions about the integrity and accuracy of information provided by Google.

We strongly urge you to stay true to Google’s mission – “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful” – without distorting or politicizing that information. We look forward to an explanation from you regarding the recent removal of the Persian Gulf name from Google Maps and call on you to immediately correct this mistake.



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