August 02, 2012

Gillibrand, Schumer Bill to Enforce Sanctions Against Syria Passes Congress – Heads to President’s Desk as Part of Bipartisan Iran Sanctions Bill Toughening Penalties Against Iran

Senators’ Proposal Included in Iran Bill Aims to Prevent Human Rights Abuses in Syria, Prohibits the Sale of Technology or Weapons to Syria By Any Company Seeking to Do Business with the U.S.

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) announced final Congressional passage of a comprehensive bipartisan Iran sanctions bill which includes a measure they authored along with Sherrod Brown (D-OH) that will enforce sanctions against the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. Another measure in the bill by Senators Gillibrand and Mark Kirk (R-IL) will strengthen economic sanctions against Iran. After the Senators announced full Senate passage of the bill in May, the bill went to Conference to be reconciled with the House version of the bill.  Last night, both the Senate and House unanimously passed the final bill, the Iran Threat Reduction and Syria Human Rights Act. The bill now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. 

“This bill will enforce a broader set of sanctions against the Iranian regime, which is an existential threat to the United States and our allies,” said Senator Gillibrand. “By isolating Iran and bringing greater transparency to any investment being made in Iran, we can help defund the nuclear militarization of one of the world’s most hostile nations. It is also time for the Iranian regime’s best friend Syrian President Assad to step down. This new bill is an important step to end the bloodshed by the Syrian government by further isolating the Assad regime and blocking its ability to bring in tools of oppression used against the Syrian people.”

Senator Schumer said on sanctions against Syria, “The downfall of the Assad regime is an inevitable outcome of the ruthless and oppressive violence he has inflicted upon his own people. With this robust sanctions package we intend to hasten that downfall as quickly as possible.”

Senator Schumer said on sanctions against Iran, “The full force of the Iran sanctions package will hammer the Iranian economy and make clear that a nuclear armed Iran will not be tolerated. The choice is stark: abandon the drive for a nuclear weapon or abandon any hopes of a prosperous economy.”

The Gillibrand-Schumer-Brown measure would require the President to identify those persons in the Syrian government, and those helping them, who have violated the human rights of pro-democracy demonstrators, members of the opposition, or other Syrians, for the purposes of blocking of any financial and property transactions in the US. The sanctions bill also prohibits the sale of technology or weapons to Syria, by any company seeking to do business with the United States, which would be used for censorship or human rights abuses in the country. 

In April, President Obama issued an executive order which largely puts into place the Senators’ legislation. The White House's executive order would require the President to identify those persons in the Syrian or Iranian government, and those helping them or providing to them information technology tools that allow the Syrian and Iranian governments to monitor, track or disrupt communications. These governments have used these tools to violate the human rights of pro-democracy demonstrators, members of the opposition, or others in their countries. Persons found to have assisted the governments of Syria or Iran would have their property in the U.S. blocked. 

Senators Gillibrand and Kirk’s proposals would impose sanctions against those who aid in Iran’s human rights abuses and require companies that trade on the U.S. stock exchange to disclose any sanctionable business activities with Iran to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).  The measure’s target of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps is based on Gillibrand language in the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Sanctions Consolidation Act of 2011.