WASHINGTON – Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman, ID-Conn., and Ranking Member Susan Collins, R-Me., Thursday asked the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to update its report on which foreign nations are violating Iran sanctions.
The request comes at the first anniversary of GAO’s last report on the topic, which found seven countries in violation of the sanctions passed by Congress last year. According to CRS, the Administration sanctioned two of those countries and exempted the other five.
Following is the Senators’ letter to GAO:
May 18, 2011
The Honorable Gene L. Dodaro
Comptroller General of the United States
Government Accountability Office
441 G Street, NW
Washington, D.C., 20548
Dear Mr. Dodaro:
It has been one year since you issued a report entitled Firms Reported in Open Sources as Having Commercial Activity in Iran’s Oil, Gas, and Petrochemical Sectors. This report identified seven foreign firms that had investments in Iran’s energy sector that also had contracts with the U.S. government valued at nearly $880 million. As you know, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee held an oversight hearing on May 12, 2010 that drew on GAO’s findings entitled, Iran Sanctions: Why Does The U.S. Government Do Business with Companies Doing Business in Iran.
The prospect of a nuclear Iran makes it imperative that the United States exercise all instruments of national power -- including the passage, implementation, and full enforcement of U.S. economic sanctions -- to persuade Iran to give up its pursuit of a nuclear weapons program. Therefore, we request that you update your previous report regarding the firms that are engaged in commercial activity in Iran’s energy sector.
In addition, given the less than vigorous enforcement of previously imposed sanctions, we request that you investigate the implementation and enforcement of the expanded sanctions and penalties provided for in the Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) of 2010. As the one year anniversary of the passage of CISADA approaches, we understand from the Congressional Research Service that the Administration has sanctioned two companies under the Iran Sanctions Act (Naftiran and Belarusneft, a subsidiary of the Belarus government) since the passage of CISADA. We understand that five other companies were identified and provided exemptions by the Administration.
Under the law, absent a presidential waiver, the Administration must impose sanctions if a person has knowingly made an investment since August 1996 of $20 million or more in any given year that contributes to Iran's ability to develop its petroleum resources. In addition, the Administration must prohibit U.S. banks from doing business with foreign financial institutions that support transactions by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps or with Iranian entities designated under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) for support of acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) or support of terrorism.
The expanded law also requires federal agencies to terminate a contract or debar or suspend those contractors who submit false certifications regarding sanctionable activities from doing business with the federal government. The GSA must list such parties on the List of Parties Excluded from Federal Nonprocurement Programs (EPLS). It is essential that each of these provisions is vigorously enforced.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Due to the urgency regarding Iran’s threat to the region, the United States and our allies, we request that you give this investigation priority consideration. Please have your staff direct any questions to Vance Serchuk of Senator Lieberman’s staff (224-XXXX) or Ryan Kaldahl of Senator Collins’ staff (224-XXXX).
Joseph I. Lieberman Susan M. Collins
United States Senator United States Senator