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Sponsors Join With Activists in Urging Stronger Federal Intervention

The General Assembly on Monday unanimously approved a measure (ACR-173) sponsored by Assembly Democratic members John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Linda Stender urging the federal government for stronger intervention to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Following the vote, the lawmakers discussed the importance of increasing U.S. pressure on Iran and were joined by statewide activists from groups such as the NJ Stop Iran Now Campaign and the No Nukes for Iran Teen Advocacy Program. No Nukes for Iran is made up of a number of high school students in Essex County who were largely the inspiration behind Assemblyman McKeon’s decision to introduce the measure.

“The threat that Iran’s enrichment program poses to the prospect of long-term stability in the Middle East cannot be understated,” said McKeon (D-Essex). “Iran has been identified by the United States as a sponsor of terrorism and their accelerated long-range missile testing and nuclear activities, with no civilian purpose, lead to the conclusion that the country is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. This development has such widespread and dire consequences that it inspired impassioned pleas for action from many of the high school students joining us today.”

The resolution approved today urges the federal government to utilize additional sanctions, financial divestment, and increased diplomatic pressure to stop Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

“Iran has engaged in a foreign policy that is hostile to the United States and our allies in the Middle East,” said Jasey (D-Essex).”Despite the country’s claims that it is engaging in a peaceful nuclear energy program, all reports indicate otherwise. We cannot afford to turn a blind eye to this situation.”

“Current sanctions against Iran have had a significant impact on its economy and oil production capacity,” said Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union). “However, it hasn’t produced our intended goal of forcing Iran to abandon its nuclear program. It’s more critical than ever that the federal government step up the pressure now before it’s too late.”

Danielle Flaum, Founder of the No Nukes for Iran Teen Advocacy Program thanked the lawmakers for sponsoring the resolution.

“Today, New Jersey elected officials took an historic stand. By ensuring that this issue is a priority and taking action to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, we can tell our fellow citizens of New Jersey, our children, and grandchildren – that we worked hard to make the world a safer place for us today and for future generations,” said Flaum.

McKeon noted that although President Obama signed comprehensive bipartisan legislation last summer to penalize companies that support Iran’s petroleum sector, various loopholes remained. Consequently, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) introduced a bipartisan bill in February, which would eliminate these loopholes that allow U.S. companies to continue investing in Iran’s energy sector.

“The United States has taken important steps in recent years to give teeth to our foreign policy and national security objectives in Iran, but more needs to be done,” added McKeon. “The Iran Transparency and Accountability Act is one in a series of measures that have been working their way through Congress to strengthen last year’s sanctions. It is exactly the type of action that we are urging in ACR 173.”

The Assembly resolution approved today calls for further economic sanctions and financial divestiture, including sanctions against the Central Bank of Iran, limiting access to refined petroleum products, and enforcing current United States sanctions against energy companies that invest in Iran’s energy sector in order to increase the pressure on Iran to stop its nuclear program.