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“Iran Threat Reduction Act” gaining Republican support in House

cross posted from


Late last month, the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, introduced H.R. 1208, the “Iran Threat Reduction Act of 2009.”  The bill now has 48 cosponsors–all Republicans.

Rep. Ros-Lehtinen has also introduced three other resolutions focused on Iran in the three months since the beginning of the 111th Congress: H.Con.Res. 16, H.R. 485, and H.R. 364.  Two of these deal specifically with the nuclear issue, while the other, H.Con.Res. 16, “recognizes the threat of spreading radical Islamist terrorism and Iranian adventurism in Africa.”

According to a letter from the office of Congresswoman Ros-Lehtinen, the Iran Threat Reduction Act “requires U.S. sanctions against Iran to remain in place until the President certifies that they have verifiably dismantled all their weapons of mass destruction programs.”  Current sanctions that would be affected by this measure focus on Iran’s energy sector as well as US export controls and a ban on most imported goods from Iran.

Additionally, the bill would require managers of federal and private pension plans, thrift savings plans and mutual funds “to divest all investments of such plans from Iran’s energy infrastructure.”  Congress has previously wrestled with the issue of Iran divestment, which many trade groups say would violate the Constitution.

Finally, it would “prohibitbilateral U.S. nuclear cooperation agreements with countries assisting Iran’s nuclear or missile or advanced conventional weapons programs.”  This provision is largely directed toward Russia, with whom President Bush signed a 123 Agreement last year, but which requires Congressional ratification.

The Act is being seen by many as an attempt to make good on Ros-Lehtinen’s promises to beef up Iran sanctions in the current session, but Democrats have been hesitant to support such an aggressive move before President Obama unveils his new strategy for engaging Iran.

At the close of the legislative session last Fall, Rep. Ros-Lehtinen lamented Congress’ inability to pass tougher sanctions, saying the provisions that did pass the House “fall far short of the type of comprehensive sanctions that would truly cripple the Iranian economy, which is dependent on investments in its energy sector.”

The bill has been referred to a number of committees, including the Committee on Foreign Affairs, where it awaits action.

  • 10 December 2008
  • Posted By Patrick Disney
  • Legislative Agenda, Nuclear file, Persian Gulf, Sanctions

Ros-Lehtinen introduces bill to block UAE nuclear deal over Iran smuggling

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen introduced a bill today (H.R. 7316) blocking a 123 Agreement with the UAE over that country’s shipments of goods to Iran despite current sanctions.

Basically, this bill would prohibit the US from entering into a civilian nuclear agreement with the UAE until it stops shipments of goods, services, and technology to Iran currently under US and UN sanctions.

One passage that stands out in this bill extends the prohibition until the UAE “has developed and implemented the appropriate or necessary legislative and functional actions to target the logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations.”  Huh?

I think it’s safe to assume “logistical and financial networks that support terrorist organizations” is a convoluted way of saying Iran’s financial and military sectors.  The intentionally vague language here makes it nearly impossible for the UAE ever to satisfy this requirement.

As for the rest of the bill, it’s pretty straightforward–no seriously inflammatory rhetoric toward Iran–just a hard-nosed ultimatum to the UAE: stop going around our Iran sanctions or we won’t send you our high-tech stuff.

And for anyone who paid attention to the US-Russia 123 Agreement from this summer, you’ll notice a popular proposal that surfaced in the House Foreign Affairs Committee: changing the procedure for granting Congressional approval to 123 Agreements.

Under existing rules, the President submits a 123 Agreement to Congress for review.  After 90 days, unless Congress adopts a resolution blocking its entry into force, the agreement is adopted.  This bill would reverse that process, and require explicit Congressional approval for any agreement to be approved.

This is a pretty popular idea, in part because this summer the Bush administration waited too long to submit the Russia deal to Congress and consequently, there weren’t even 90 days left in the term.  It’s pretty clear the old procedure doesn’t make a lot of sense, so look for this bill to get noticed by a HFAC members from both sides of the aisle.

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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