McKEON, JASEY, STENDER MEASURE URGING FEDS FOR INCREASED PRESSURE AGAINST IRAN NUKES PROGRAM ADVANCES IN SENATE

A measure sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Mila Jasey and Linda Stender urging the federal government for stronger intervention to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons was approved by a Senate panel on Thursday.

“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 high school students in my district.”

The resolution (ACR-173), which was approved by the full Assembly in May and now heads to the full Senate, 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.”

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 resolution 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.

McKeon credited the No Nukes for Iran Teen Advocacy Program, which is comprised of a number of high school students in Essex County, for being largely the inspiration behind his decision to introduce the measure.