Washington— The US law makers introduced a bill on Wednesday to intensify sanctions against the Iranian regime. The new bill requires publically traded companies, their subsidiaries, and affiliates to report economic ties with the Islamic Republic.
The new legislation comes amid more heightened concerns among the intelligence community that Iran’s nuclear activities pose a substantial threat to the US and regional interests. The new intelligence report on Iran is widely believed to be a reassessment of an earlier report prepared in 2007.
The details of the intelligence reassessment on Iran are classified and have been shared with only a handful of US law makers.
Today, the International Atomic Agency made public a report that found Iran resumed its nuclear activities shortly after a cyber attack many believed was the work of Israel’s spy agency. The earlier setback suffered by the Iranian nuclear program as a result of a computer virus was not sufficiently devastating to hinder Iran’s long term nuclear ambitions.
Republican Sen. Mark Kirk along with Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Republican Rep. Dan Burton and Democratic Rep. Ted Deutch are the sponsors of the new legislation.
“I have been very frustrated with the lack of enforcement. My hope is that with this bipartisan legislation we can upgrade the enforcement”, Said Kirk.
Deutch told reporters “One of the reasons that this legislation is so important is because once the company identifies that they are doing business [with Iran], it will require the investigation to start and will pressure that company to make the decision to place national security interests first”.
According to Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, there are several companies that would have to report their dealings with Iran under the new legislation. “The hardest part has been trying to find out exactly what these companies are actually doing,” said Dubowitz.
Under the self reporting provision of the proposed law, an investigation is immediately opened by the Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as a company self-identifies an economic relationship with Iran.
In his testimony before Congress, National Intelligence Director James Clapper told a panel of US law makers: “We continue to assess Iran is keeping the option open to develop nuclear weapons in part by developing various nuclear capabilities that better position it to produce such weapons should it choose to do so.” He further added “”We do not know, however, if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.”