• 21 June 2010
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • 3 Comments
  • Congress, Nuclear file, Sanctions

Draft Iran Sanctions Conference Report

House and Senate conference co-chairs Rep. Howard Berman and Sen. Chris Dodd announced today they have formed an agreement on new Iran sanctions legislation, which they are circulating to other members of the conference committee today.

niacINsight has obtained a copy of the legislation, which is expected to be approved formally by the Congress and signed into law by the President in the coming days.

Update:

NIAC Deeply Concerned by Congressional Sanctions Agreement

For Immediate Release

Contact: Phil Elwood
Phone: 202-423-7957
Email: phile@brownlloydjames.com

The National Iranian American Council is deeply concerned by the Conference Agreement announced for H.R. 2194, the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act. While the Agreement contains some positive measures called for by NIAC to punish Iranian human rights abusers and ease restrictions preventing Iranians from accessing the Internet, these measures do not negate the fact that the bill imposes further suffering upon the people of Iran at their greatest moment of need and perpetuates a failed US sanctions policy that has hindered the democratic aspirations of the Iranian people.

“Congress had an opportunity to stand with the Iranian people by recalibrating US sanctions to target Iran’s government and ease pressures on innocent Iranians,” said Jamal Abdi, NIAC Policy Director. “Unfortunately, Congress missed that opportunity and is moving forward with another sanctions measure that imposes pain indiscriminately, making no distinction between the people and the government of Iran.”

H.R. 2194 imposes broad “crippling” sanctions targeting Iran’s economy. Congressional leaders have acknowledged that such measures will punish innocent Iranians.

NIAC has consistently urged that any Iran legislation passed by Congress take into account the massive protests and burgeoning democracy movement in Iran that became clear to the world following the disputed June 12, 2009 elections. NIAC advocated for Congress not to send the President legislation that would impose broad sanctions that would undermine and punish the Iranian people.

Instead, NIAC called for Congress to impose punitive measures against human rights abusers and companies that aid Iranian government repression while simultaneously easing pressure on innocent Iranians.

NIAC urged that the final Conference Agreement incorporate all three provisions of the Stand With the Iranian People Act (H.R.4303), including imposing travel restrictions on Iranian human rights abusers, barring federal contracts for companies that provide Iran’s government with repressive technology, and lifting the ban that prevents humanitarian relief and human rights organizations from working in Iran.

The Conference Agreement does include these first two punitive provisions, which NIAC strongly supports. But the Agreement fails to lift restrictions preventing US NGOs from working to promote human rights and humanitarian relief in Iran, instead only lifting restrictions for NGOs working on “promoting democracy.” It is unfortunate that Congress is willing to ease restrictions to promote democracy but not to promote human rights or provide humanitarian relief.

The Agreement acknowledges through non-binding language that “it is in the national interest of the United States” to allow American humanitarian and human right NGOs to work in Iran and to state that the US should ensure American NGOs are not “unnecessarily hindered from working in Iran to provide humanitarian, human rights, and people-to-people assistance” to the Iranian people. This is positive language, but unfortunately it does not carry the force of law and is therefore insufficient.

Additionally, NIAC called for the Conference Agreement to include the Iranian Digital Empowerment Act (H.R.4301) to lift all restrictions that prevent Iranians from accessing software to bypass Internet filters and government surveillance. While NIAC is pleased that the Conference Agreement endorses a March 2010 Administration decision to allow certain communication software to be exported to Iranians, and that it includes exceptions from sanctions for certain hardware used to connect to the Internet, the Conference Agreement does not lift restrictions for all software, such as anti-filtering software, and therefore keeps in place restrictions that prevent Iranians from accessing and communicating the Internet freely. Congress should have ensured that all software and hardware that enables Iranians to communicate freely via the Internet be unrestricted.

“There are a number of unintended consequences under existing US sanctions that isolate the Iranian people and undermine their democratic aspirations,” said Abdi. “By addressing those mistakes and lifting restrictions on humanitarian NGOs and Internet anti-filtering software, Congress could have done something positive to support Iranians, support human rights, and ensure we do not stand in the way of the Iranian people. Unfortunately Congress declined to take this opportunity.”

Posted By Patrick Disney

    3 Responses to “Draft Iran Sanctions Conference Report”

  1. Pirouz says:

    Remember the optimism we all felt after Obama;s election, regarding the prospects of rapprochement with the Islamic Republic of Iran?

    How unfounded that optimism turned out to be.

    Looking back, I can’t believe how naive I was in thinking that possible.

  2. Iranian-American says:

    “Looking back, I can’t believe how naive I was in thinking that possible.”

    … especially given the current Iranian dictatorship.

  3. Concerned Citizen says:

    I’m concerned – NIAC, are they taking our pistachios and carpets from us?

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Sign the Petition

 

7,349 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.

Sincerely,

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