May 03, 2010

As Ahmadinejad Attends U.N. Conference On Nuclear Non-Proliferation, Gillibrand, Leaders Call For Senate Hearings To Investigate Companies Doing Business With Iran

Companies Around the World Must Make a Choice: Deal With Iran or Deal with the Rest of the World

New York, NY – With Iran blatantly ignoring its obligations to honor a nuclear non-proliferation treaty, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and a coalition of New York leaders, including Representatives Carolyn Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Joseph Crowley, Anthony Weiner, New York State and City officials, Jewish Community Relations Council of New York (JCRC-NY), UJA-Federation of New York and the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations declared Iran’s attendance at today’s conference at the United Nations  a “sham” and called for Senate hearings to investigate all companies that do business with Iran.  Companies that do businesses with Iran’s oil and gas industry are helping fund the hostile nation’s nuclear ambitions and enable terrorism, and calling for Senate hearings to investigate these companies.

“There are no other words to say it: Iran’s presence at this conference is a sham,” said Senator Gillibrand. “It’s time for Iran to make a real choice about its future, and it’s time for these companies to make a choice about theirs: Keep investing in Iran and threatening our security, or get real access to the global economy. They cannot and will not have it both ways. Their business in Iran funds the development of nuclear weapons that Iran’s own president says he will to use against America and our allies. We can’t allow these businesses to put their profits before our safety. It’s time to cut ties.”

“This is not the first time we have protested a visit of Ahmadinejad to our city but we certainly hope it is the last. The clock is ticking and deadlines are looming. The time for decisive action against Iran’s nuclear program is now,” said Janice Shorenstein, President, JCRC and Michael Miller, EVP and CEO, JCRC.

“Ahmadinejad is not at the United Nations today to engage in a constructive conversation about stopping the spread of nuclear arms,” said Representative Crowley.  “Iran does not respect international institutions or agreements.  Rather, Ahmadinejad will abuse the purpose of today’s forum to continue his anti-Semitic rhetoric, disrespect the United States and its allies and try to run out the clock on legitimate nuclear non-proliferation negotiations through stalling tactics, so Iran can obtain the bomb.  It is time to put an end to the status quo by imposing tough, enforceable sanctions on Iran.” 

“Mahmoud Ahmadinejad makes a mockery of everything the United Nations stands for. The United Nations was created so the countries of the world could ‘practice tolerance and live together in peace with one another as good neighbours’ – but Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been far from a good neighbor,” said Representative Maloney.  “Under his leadership, Iran has armed Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.  Under his leadership, Iran is developing nuclear weapons, which threaten the stability of the Middle East.  Ahmadinejad is coming to a conference that is supposed to recommit nations to the principles of disarmament, nonproliferation and the peaceful use of civil nuclear energy.  But there is every indication that Iran is dedicated to the principles of rearming, nuclear proliferation and the aggressive use of nuclear weapons.”

 “Once again, President Ahmadinejad has come to the United Nations to spout duplicitous and anti-Semitic propaganda before a world stage,” said Representative Nadler.  “We must join together to continue to denounce his regime’s odious policies of illegal nuclear proliferation, hatemongering, and malevolent disregard for the outside world.  I have proudly supported the House’s efforts to step up sanctions against Iran and I believe we must continue to push the Iranian government to abandon all efforts to develop nuclear weapons.  And we must not tolerate the continued flouting of sanctions by companies engaged in commerce with Iran – there is no excuse for doing business with a tyrannical regime.”

“In 2007, President Ahmadinejad used his visit to pull offensive PR stunts like attempting to visit the World Trade Center and spouting off inflammatory remarks and conspiracy theories at Columbia University,” said Representative Nita Lowey. “He should use this trip to join the community of nations by answering long-overdue questions about Iran’s nuclear program, coming into compliance with the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), and ceasing his pursuit of nuclear weapons.”

“As we have all seen, the President of Iran has used his office not as a vehicle for peace and prosperity but as a way of increasing tensions in a region that is already under far too much pressure,” said Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn. “What is even more troubling is that here at home, American businesses continue to invest in a country led by a tyrannical regime. Congress must hold hearings to investigate these companies and must pass tougher sanctions. Investment in Iran must not come at the expense of our national security or our core democratic values.”

“It has become clear that Iran's nuclear program is a threat to all who embrace freedom and democratic values,” said John Ruskay, executive vice president and CEO of UJA-Federation of New York. “President Ahmadinejad has clearly expressed his hopes and aspirations. We stand with all who reject them--for the people of Iran, the entire region, and far beyond.  We must not and will not remain silent.”

The New York Times last month uncovered 74 businesses in America and around the world are doing business both with the American government and with Iran’s oil and gas sector. America has awarded over $100 billion in contracts and grants to businesses that invest in Iran’s fossil fuel industry, including $15 billion in companies potentially violating current American sanction laws.

Due to recent public exposure, nearly 20 companies have recently disinvested from Iran, including 15 that stopped selling gasoline to the nation. But for every business that has divested, more than three continue enabling Iran’s nuclear ambitions that threaten Israel, America and countries everywhere.

Senator Gillibrand and the New York leaders are calling for Senate hearings to investigate companies reported of doing with business in Iran, and forcing them to cut ties with the hostile nation or lose access to business in America and the rest of the world. The leaders are also calling on Congress to immediately pass a new Iran sanctions law that would allow President Obama to impose tougher sanctions and checks against companies tied to Iran, including blocking federal contracts to violators and imposing a three year ban on government contracts against companies who falsely claim they do not conduct business with Iran.