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IRAN: U.S. business groups call on White House to drop proposed sanctions

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In his State of the Union address Wednesday night, President Obama offered a seemingly softened rhetoric toward the Islamic Republic on the issue of sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.

He said Tehran would "face growing consequences" if it failed to curb its nuclear program. But he didn't specify whether those consequences would include sanctions, as demanded by U.S. lawmakers expected to take action on a new set of proposed sanctions targeting Iran's gasoline imports.

This week, several prominent American business groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Foreign Trade Council, came out strongly against sanctions.

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The groups warned White House national security advisor James Jones and high-level economic policy advisor Lawrence Summers that expanding sanctions on Iran would hurt U.S. national interests on several levels.

"The undersigned business organizations are profoundly concerned that current legislative proposals to expand U.S. sanctions on Iran would significantly undermine the U.S. national interest. ... The proposed sanctions would incite economic, diplomatic and legal conflicts with U.S. allies and could frustrate joint action against Iran," read the letter posted on foreign policy journalist Laura Rozen's blog, which was among the first outlets picking up on the story. 

They said the proposed sanctions "could prohibit any U.S. company from transacting routine business with critical partners from around the globe even if these transactions have no bearing on business" with the Islamic Republic.

"The proposals could have a large impact on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, precluding it from partnering with counterpart agencies abroad to co-finance U.S. exports that have no relation to Iran’s energy sector," read the statement.

The business groups expressed concern over Iran's controversial nuclear program, but suggested unilateral sanctions would only undermine the efforts of the U.S. and its allies in dealing with the issue.  

"The United States and our allies must present a united front in the face of Iran’s nuclear ambitions," read the letter. 

"Unfortunately, these proposals would undermine these goals with sanctions of inappropriately sweeping reach, undue constraints on the U.S. Export-Import Bank, and the elimination of executive discretion in the conduct of U.S. foreign policy," it added.  

"We urge you to weigh in vigorously with Congress to eliminate these highly problematic proposals."

Pressure for sanctions is increasing. A day after the business groups made their appeal to the White House, some lawmakers in Washington called on Obama to adopt a tougher stance on Iran. 

In a letter addressed to the president on Wednesday, a number of senators urged Obama to take action and impose "crippling sanctions" on Iran, according to United Press International.

"It is imperative to put into action your pledge of increased, meaningful pressure against the Iranian regime," read the letter, signed by Democratic, Republic and independent senators including Evan Bayh, Bob Casey, John McCain and Joe Lieberman.

Iran imports about 40% of its gasoline, mainly from the Swiss companies Vitol and Glencore, Dutch-Swiss Trafigura, France's Total, Britain's BP and an Indian company called Reliance.

If the legislation is voted through, foreign companies that have more than 20 million of investments in Iran's energy sector could be targeted, according to Agence France-Presse.


On the Senate floor on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed his hopes that the Senate would pass the legislation that would impose sanctions on companies that supply the Islamic Republic with gasoline.

"The act will create new pressure on the Iranian regime to help stop Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon," the Reuters news agency quoted Reid as saying. "I am reaching out to Republican colleagues to help me find a path to get that done in the next few weeks."

-- Alexandra Sandels in Beirut

Photo: President Obama delivers his State of the Union address on Wednesday. Credit: White House. Image credit: U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Comments () | Archives (7)

Glencore was founded by Marc Rich. A new book about Marc Rich details his businesses in Iran: The King of Oil - The Secret Lives of Marc Rich (St. Martin's Press).

Highly interesting. Rich acknowledges having traded with Iran during the hostage crisis.

“It was a political development which did not affect the business,” Rich says in the book. “It was very unpleasant and tragic for the hostages and humiliating for America, but it didn’t affect the business.”

I was stunned to see that Rich openly talks about his businesses with rogue nations and about his private life.

Tell me why we should care about what the so-called business community thinks? Apparently all they are concerned about is their profit. They are otherwise utter cowards who do not care one bit about the larger effects of their actions on this nation. They have shipped our manufacturing prowess abroad, mostly to a nation thoroughly hostile to us, China. What they could not pick up and move they most often outsource to other nations, all of which deprives their own fellow Americans of opportunities. Business people have no allegiance to their own nation, so we should not concern ourselves if actions taken to protect our nation offend these business people. I will worry about what they think when they start doing things for the nation as a whole, not just to make more money for themselves.

First of all, I am against any war or military action on Iran, we dont have the time, resources or the money. Plus it would be wildly unpopular internationally, AND it would galvanize the Iranian people toward their government.

Sanctions are a possible solution, but they have to be smart sanctions. The few rounds of UN sanctions in place were supposed to make life more difficult for the leaders of Iran (whether they have or not I don't know). Its great that the US wants more sanctions but it NEEDS to be an international effort. The US has been sanctioning Iran alone for 30 years and nothing has come of it.

A wise teacher of mine once told me, the definition of insanity is to do the same thing over and over and expect a different result. We've sanctioned for the past 30 years with the same mediocre results. Isn't it time to try something new?

It is a shame that Israel has such a lock on our COngress that our businesses (and employees) have to suffer for the sake of Israeli interests that want to push the US into yet another disasterous war in the Mideast for the sake of Israel.

It is quite shame that american business people fart about national interest,it is shame that american president trying to make deal with saiten,over 70 million people are prisoner of saitanic republic and is shame that american not reaching to support the iraninan people,these people are only want basic freedom and with clerics in power no one will be free, you should concern about your national interest when these saintens have a greater power and willing to kill to reach to their goal,today they hanging young iraninas and tomorrow god knows what,
it is about a time fulfill your preach of freedom and stop saying yes to china.

If you have to approve posting of Comments, (freedome of speech) then you have an agenda..

American

Zionism at work as usual...

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